Learning together

Books and reading can have a powerful impact of bringing communities together, as many volunteers and elementary school children found out recently.

Nearly 60 people from around the area volunteered for the annual Community Readers Day at Dunkirk School 3 on Lamphere Street. Employees from Nestle Purina, Eden Daycare, Compeer Chautauqua, Lakeside Precision, and the Dunkirk Free Library, among other companies, showed up to read stories to children at the school. Students and professors from SUNY Fredonia and Jamestown Community College also showed up to the event.

“The people come in, they read real quickly with the children and explain what they do for a living, or if they’re retired, what they used to do,” said Community Readers Day Coordinator Corinne Rukavina, who is also a reading teacher at School 3. “It’s just a way to share with the community and the children that reading is still alive.”

Rukavina also said that many prominent people turned out to the event, including two published authors, the mayors of Dunkirk, Fredonia, and Forestville, the president of SUNY Fredonia, and even a Buffalo Jill cheerleader.

Jennifer Phillips Russo shared with several children at School 3 a book that she had published last September, titled “The Dragon Birthmark: World in the Shadows.”

“I really want children to read and just create and explore, instead of video games,” Russo said. “Get outside and play and read and be excited about it, that’s why I wrote the book.”

Dr. Kathleen Magiera, an associate professor at SUNY Fredonia, dressed the part for the book she was planning to read by dressing up in a graduation cap and gown. Her book was titled “Mahalia Mouse Goes to College” by John Lithgow.

“This day teaches the kids that there are community people that want to be involved with them,” Magiera said. “I think it’s just exciting for them to hear about what people do for a job.”

Dr. Magiera said she supervises students from the college at School 3, where they tutor an afterschool program.

“It’s just a natural thing for me to give back to the school since they give so much to our SUNY Fredonia students with the tutoring program,” Magiera said.

At the end of the event, Rukavina was happy with how everything turned out, calling it a success.

“The children look forward to it every year,” Rukavina said. “They think it’s so cool that people from the community come in and read to them. It also shows them that reading can help you become successful.”

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