Donegan Elementary School is located on 4th Street. Many Lehigh students volunteer to help with the after school programs held there each week. (c/o Dana Grubb/Bethlehem Munincipal website)

Lehigh athletes show Donegan students ‘Reading Rocks’

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Lehigh students partake in several after-school programs with Donegan Elementary School. One such program is called “Reading Rocks” in which players from one of Lehigh’s 24 athletic teams go to the elementary school every Wednesday and help students practice their reading skills.

This program, which was created by St. Luke’s Hospital, is designed not only to help the Donegan students learn to read but also to encourage them to do so outside of the classroom. By Lehigh students showing them that reading can be fun, the hope is that the Donegan students will want to continue practicing. As a reward, the students who practice reading the most are even given a pizza party at the end of the semester.

Rosa Carides-Hof, the community school coordinator for Donegan Elementary, said the program is extremely beneficial to the elementary school students.

“It’s great because it lets our students get to know the Lehigh students,” she said. “The Lehigh students have become an excellent example for our kids. They encourage our students to work hard and show them that it is important to get good grades.”

Carides-Hof also praised the “Reading Rocks” program because it exposes the Donegan students to life outside of their own community. Despite the close proximity, Carides-Hof said Lehigh is “very far” in terms of actually being a possibility for the students in the future.

“Spending time with the Lehigh students breaks the stereotype that our kids can’t do well,” Carides-Hof said. “Seeing the Lehigh students shows them that there is a reward to working hard.”

Roseann Corsi, the “Reading Rocks” program coordinator for Lehigh, says the program is highly poplar among Lehigh athletic teams because students enjoy giving back.

“Our kids love the program,” Corsi said. “The kids look up to them as role models, and they love knowing they’re making a difference. The first thing they say to me after they go for the first time is ‘I want to go back.’”

Corsi is also currently trying to get the Greek life on campus more involved in the program.

Lehigh students themselves benefit from the program, as well. Samantha Mazzeo, ’16, a member of the rowing team, participated in the program last month and said she enjoyed working with the students.

“You can tell that they loved that we went to see them,” Mazzeo said. “I’m glad that I was able to help them with their school work and to give them something to look forward to.”

Mazzeo said she would definitely participate in the program again and that she would encourage her teammates to also go along.

Jennifer Liu, ’17, another member of the rowing team, said she liked spending time with the students because it gave her a chance to do some much-needed community service and to get away from her stressful workload.

“I’m always busy with homework, so it was nice to do something else for a change,” Liu said. “I also really liked it because I could tell the girl I worked with really looked up to me. I’m glad that I was able to help her.”

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