Taylor Burke Contributing Writer
Recently UMF faculty, students and community members participated in the UMF Read to ME event at W.G. Mallett School, where volunteers read to the elementary students as part of a state education initiative.
The Read to ME event is a state-wide challenge from the Department of Education that asks people to read to children for at least 15 minutes and post a picture or video of them reading with #ReadtoME in the caption to celebrate and spread a love of literacy to children across Maine.
Literacy Education Professor Kathryn Will was one of the primary organizers of the UMF Read to ME event at Mallett School. Once the volunteers arrived in the cafeteria, Will explained some logistics and how the volunteers would be split up amongst the students.
Shortly after, an announcement came over the intercom informing students that the guest readers were on their way to the classrooms. With that, the volunteers filed out the doors and scattered into the hallways.
Kaden Pendleton, a junior education major, read to a group of kindergarteners. He sat on a bench at the end of a hallway and students gathered around him with eager eyes. As he turned the pages, the kindergarteners were in awe of the illustrations displayed.
Pendleton is passionate about literacy and the connections between schools and their communities, which makes him an active supporter of the Read to ME event. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Everybody should read to children.”
When he heard about the need for volunteers for the event, he jumped on the opportunity. “Reading to children is so important,” he said. “They want to hear the stories that you have to tell them. Even if it’s a book they’ve heard before, it’s a different voice.”
Classrooms were buzzing with students eager to meet and listen to their guest readers. Principal Tracy Williams observed this as she circulated throughout the building. “The kids are really excited and attentive,” she said.
Kaden Pendleton reading to children. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Mastrangelo.
She sees the event as a positive literacy experience. “I think it’s good for kids to see other community members and college students and adults from out in the community who they see acting on reading and really enjoying it,” she said.
Williams helped organize Read to ME at the Mallett School, but attributes much of the leg work to Will, who sent out a call for readers throughout the community and created an online page where volunteers could sign up to attend. She looked at the page the night before the event and only had 14 volunteers. However, the next day she had 39 people coming in to volunteer. This made the organization a little tricky due to the quick logistic changes that needed to be made on the day of the event.
This is Will’s fourth year organizing the event. She hopes that students and volunteers find joy and delight in participating. Will explained that the moments students have with readers aren’t complex but have a positive impact. “You can make the difference in the life of a child in reading to them for 15 minutes,” she said.
One of Will’s favorite parts of the event is the connections that can be made between people and the community. She described an experience at the event when a teacher showed interest in having Will return to read to her class. “I love those moments where people have opportunities to connect with ways in which they can contribute to the community,” she said. “And that’s the whole point of Read to ME.”
Jocea Jordan Contributing Writer
UMF and the Farmington community will be coming together soon for trick-or-treating through the residence halls, as well as a wide variety of additional activities. Children and families are encouraged to join in on the trick or treating event which is hosted by Alpha Phi Omega (APO), dress up and connect with the students and campus community.
APO is a co-ed service fraternity that hosts community service and friendship events catered towards the members of the club and the community. The main goal of the club is to “provide service to the university, community, and nation, as well as foster fellowship and leadership among the brothers and members,” according to the APO page on the University’s website.
Madison Vigeant, a junior psychology major and vice president of APO, has been helping to organize and plan the trick-or-treating event and activities that are going to be taking place. “It’s just really fun to see how much of a community we can get together for this one event,” said Madison, “seeing how many people turn out is really amazing.”
Kaden Pendleton, a junior elementary education major, is a member of APO as well as a mentor community assistant (MCA) for the Scott residence halls. The MCA’s role is to assist other community assistants with any questions or concerns they may have as well as working closely with the Area Coordinator.
“I think it’s a way for people in the community to feel connected to the campus. This event kind of dissolves [campus] from being this big scary place that’s in their town and makes us more a part of their town. I think it’s good for them to feel included in what we do here,” said Pendleton.
“All of the residents that want to participate can open their doors and give out candy to the kids as they’re walking by,” Pendleton said, “or they can just put a bowl outside of their door with candy that says take one.”
Pendleton said he also enjoys seeing all of the professors and staff members from campus come to the event with their children because “you get to see the professors in a different role from when you normally do.”
“It’s not just trick or treating in the halls. In the Ed Center there are all kinds of activities. Families and kids can play games and get a whole bunch of candy and then the kids can walk around the dorms and get even more candy,” Pendleton said.
“APO usually does activities like face painting or musical chairs,” said Vigeant “just fun social activities to help the children to interact and get to know each other.”
Making sure everyone is accommodated is important to APO. Pendleton said, “We really try hard to ensure that everyone is accommodated and can feel included.” he also likes being involved in the MCA role and said “It’s fun to get the dorms ready, we encourage residents to decorate their doors… so that the kids are all excited when they walk through the halls.”
Mariah Langton, a junior early childhood major, who is also a community assistant for the Dakin residence hall, said in an email interview, “I’m excited because I love both Halloween and children, hence why I’m an early childhood major. Seeing the children excited and all dressed up is the best part of Halloween.” Langton also feels at ease knowing that the children “are doing something fun and safe in the community.”
Sydney Goodridge, a sophomore elementary education with a concentration in English major, said, “ I love seeing the kids’ costumes and giving out the candy. “I loved trick or treating when I was younger and enjoy being on the other side of it now in college.” Goodridge also looks forward to “seeing how creative the kids will be with costume designs. Also I can’t wait for leftover candy.”
Trick or treating through the halls will happen on October 27 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and children and their families can meet in the Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center for various activities. For any questions or concerns contact Madison Vigeant via email at Madison.Vigeant@maine.edu.