Literacy group jumpstarts spring celebration

Close to 100 kindergarten students were invited to the Queens campus on March 28 to help welcome in spring.

St. John’s University’s Jumpstart program works with kids in local elementary schools and last Friday it hosted its first ever “Celebrate Spring” event.

The event took place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the kids participated in various different events and activities.
The children attend Bright Beginnings, a school in Jamaica, Queens for pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners.
Jumpstart is a national early literacy organization that works towards helping children succeed. St. John’s University participates in this program and plans several annual events that work with students in seven different local schools.
The planning committee for St. John’s consists of Volunteer Coordinator Yolanda Sullard, Associate Site Coordinator Amanda Lenar, Senior Coordinator Theresa Pumilia, and Campus Champion Charisse Willis.
This committee is responsible for coordinating the late March event.
The day began when several buses filled with a total of 100 students arrived on campus.

According to Lenar, aside from a problem with transportation preventing more students from coming, the events still “went smoothly.”

Upon arrival, the children were split into six groups and rotated through six activity stations, each lasting around 15 to 20 minutes.

One activity, the Easter Egg Hunt, had students searching for hidden eggs around the St. John’s softball field.

“We hid eggs all over the field, and in order to make it more difficult we brought our own props,” Lenar said. “Inside the eggs were Hershey’s kisses and a ticket.
“The ticket allowed the students to receive a free book courtesy of a program called ‘First Book,’ which is associated with Jumpstart,” she said.

Lenar added that the students were most excited for an event called “Jumpstart Song,” where the Jumpstart workers led the children in a “variety of different songs intended to help the kids with their rhyming skills and with their pronunciation.”

The students participated in a number of other spring-related events, such as face-painting images like butterflies, flowers, and bunnies. They also competed in an outdoor activity called “The Egg Olympics.”

The Olympics, according to Lenar, consisted of three events: the Egg Toss, Egg and Spoon Relay, and the Bunny Hop, in which students placed a balloon between their legs and attempted to sprint to the finish line.

Jumpstart provided students with the opportunity to create spring crafts inside in the Donovan Community Room. Supplies that were provided included feathers, sequins, and glitter. Students were encouraged to create spring-related crafts with these supplies.

Jumpstart workers also read stories to the children, all relating to the spring season.

This spring was the first time that this particular event was held, and, Lenar said that she thought the turnout of both workers and children were exceptional.

“There were about 50 to 55 volunteers for about 100 children”, said Lenar.
Diana Concepcion, a freshman who has been working with Jumpstart since October, was happy with the way students reacted to the events.

“It took a while for kids to get here,” she said, “but once they got here, they were really excited about everything.”
Four-year-old Nick Claxton, a student at Bright Beginnings Kindergarten, especially enjoyed the egg hunt.

“I found eggs!” he exclaimed. “Four of them!”

Al Leon, Nick’s teacher at Bright Beginnings, was impressed with the way Jumpstart handled the event.

“They had a great time,” he said. “We had them running around. It’s great to take them away from the norm.”

According to Lenar, plans are already in the works for next year’s spring event. “[We are planning] a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday,” she said.