Bayonne Summer Literacy Camp Concludes Successful First Season

Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that the Bayonne Summer Literacy Camp has concluded its first season, and that the program “was a great success.” Mayor Smith said, “The Summer Literacy camp was a collaboration of Bayonne High School, the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF), the City of Bayonne’s Recreation Division, and the City of Bayonne’s Community Development Program. The camp brought together high school students and young children. The older students read to the younger students and helped them with their reading. All residents should be proud of this very positive program.”
The camp had two daily sessions, and lasted from July 8 to July 18. The program took place at the Bayonne Community Museum at 9th Street and Broadway and at Bayonne Head Start on West 9th Street. There were 15 to 20 campers per session. The campers were three-to-five years old. Eight students from Bayonne High School’s Service Learning Program and two students from a Hudson County summer youth program worked with the young children. Since the Summer Literacy Camp was new this year, it provided the current group of Bayonne High School students the chance to be the first Service Learning group to participate in the program. According to Samantha Howard, Administrator of the Community Development Program, “The high school students were very engaged in reading to the young children. Although Bayonne High School requires just twenty hours of service learning, some students signed up for forty hours of work. As a result of the Summer Literacy Camp and the Service Learning Program, one of the high school students decided on a career in education.”
The high school students read to the young children in small groups. All of the young campers received donated books that they took home with them at the end of camp.
Ms. Howard said, “It is crucial that children develop a love of reading at an early age. Literacy gives students a competitive advantage in school and in life. When students expand their vocabularies and improve their reading skills, they are in a better position to excel in the years ahead.”
BEOF Executive Director Ana Quintela said, “I was overwhelmed by the support for the camp from Mayor Smith and Bayonne’s community leaders. The Chairman of New Meadowlands, Jeff Gural, came all the way from New York to speak at the camp. The high school students’ devotion to the program inspired me. They got involved and they liked it.”
Community leaders, educators, and business people addressed the campers’ parents or read to the children during the camp. These leaders included Mayor Mark A. Smith; City Council President and Member At-Large Terry Ruane; Council Member At-Large Debra Czerwienski; First Ward Council Member Agnes Gillespie; City Business Administrator Steve Gallo; Police Chief Ralph Scianni; Deputy Fire Chief Keith Weaver; Assistant Superintendent of Schools-Business/School Business Administrator Leo Smith; Dr. Dennis Degnan, Principal, Lincoln Community School; BEOF Counsel Kathleen Walrod; Dr. Thomas Howard, Jr., Executive Director, Boys and Girls Harbor; Jeff Gural, Chairman, New Meadowlands, LLC; John Atkins, Chief Operating Officer, Global Terminal and Container Service, LLC; Brigid Atkins, daughter of John Atkins; Mona Vaccarella, Director of Human Resources, New Meadowlands, LLC; Kevin Price, Vice President, Global Terminal and Container Service, LLC; Lisa Weaver, a local teacher; and Dr. Joseph E. Ryan, Public Information Director, City of Bayonne.
In addition to the Summer Literacy Camp, the other service learning projects for the students this summer include mural painting; a local history program; the Summer Sounds concert series; and surveys of merchants and customers.

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