Managing Editor Emeritus
Children from Ben Franklin and Carson elementary schools paraded around Denison’s campus, excitedly learning about study abroad, sign language, origami and Taekwondo as a part of the America Reads event, After School Adventures, that took place on Thursday, April 7.
This event, consisting of over 60 elementary school students from third to fifth grade and over 30 volunteers, including America Reads participants, Denison students and faculty, exposes the students to life at Denison and in college.
America Reads is a national institution that differs at every college, but at Denison the organization consists of students who have Federal Work Study, and the applicants go through a process consisting of essays and an interview.
At Denison, America Reads has hosted the After School Adventures event for nine years. Early in the semester the Advisory Board containing five student leaders of America Reads, begin to plan the event.
Mollie Evans ’16, an education major, psychology minor, who is a tutor and on the Advisory Board of America Reads describes the organization at Denison: “We are partnered with eight elementary schools in Granville and Newark. Every day, we send tutors to the schools for an hour for tutoring in reading. Typically, teachers will have you work one-on-one or in small groups with kids and you’ll practice things like sight words and phonetics.”
In the execution of this event, the Advisory Board, consisting of Evans, Kenna Bullard ‘16, Ellen Mullan-Jayes ’16, Drew Lewis ’18 and Patricia Galan ’18, reaches out to adult coordinators in the Newark school district to find available dates, recruit volunteers for the event, put together schedules for the event, decide on a theme and plan the activities for the visiting students.
This year the event had a multicultural theme, and children rotated throughout the different activities set up in Burton Morgan, receiving stickers in their paper passports for each activity visited.
After the activities, the students ate dinner in Curtis Dining Hall with the volunteers, during which the volunteers encouraged them to ask questions about college and school.
Mullan-Jayes, a sociology and anthropology major and women’s and gender studies minor and the student liaison for John Clem elementary and co-liaison for McGuffey elementary school for America Reads, said, “With this year’s event specifically, we wanted to provide the students with a range of cultures and activities that are often not found in the surrounding area. In order to do this, we worked with different groups from throughout campus and worked with Bon Appetite in order to provide food that was from different backgrounds.”
Evans shares, “There are a lot of good things about this program. For one thing, the Newark students get to leave their schools for a little bit, which can be a nice change of scenery. It also exposes the students to college, which is really good. Even though it’s early to start thinking about it, seeing a college campus is a really good way to put students in the mindset that someday they will attend college.”
Mullan-Jayes states, “There are two ways in which this specific event really benefits the children that we work with: students are exposed and introduced to a college campus and they also are engaged in cultural and diverse activities that they might not typically be surrounded by. One of our main goals is to show these students what life is like at college and to engage them in thinking about their future and the possibility of going to college.”