It is, as always, my pleasure and honor to acknowledge UDPL’s Teen Volunteers of the Year. This year’s recipients are especially close to my heart because they are part of the first group of students I’ve been able to watch throughout their entire high school career. May 1st will be the four year anniversary of Cheri offering me the position of YA Librarian at UDPL. This means that these volunteers started 9th grade at the same time I became their librarian. I spent that year learning how to be a Public Librarian instead of a School Librarian and they spent the year learning how to be high school students. How lucky are we all that they decided to make UDPL an integral part of their high school experience?
Our first Teen Volunteer of the Year is Lexi Schneider. Her older brother Martin ran our Kids’ Chess Club and when he was unable to attend meetings, he would send Lexi in his place. She immediately struck me as incredibly intelligent and I hoped that she would continue to volunteer. I was not disappointed. Lexi has been instrumental in the success of a number of library programs that were designed to allow older students to take on mentorship roles in the lives of younger students. Lexi participated in Reading Buddies and in our Kids’ STEAM Club. She was also instrumental in helping to host a National STEM Video Game workshop at UDPL. This particular event was the only one of its type hosted in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania during 2016. It’s also worth noting that the reason Lexi was able to facilitate the National STEM Video Game workshop was because she won this national competition twice, designing video games to help children learn how the different systems of the body interact with each other. Part of her prize was a $2000 institutional gift she was allowed to give to an educational program in her community. She choose the UDPL STEAM Lab and it’s because of her that we have so many robots and have been able to host so many coding programs.
Our second Teen Volunteer of the Year is Eleanor Simpson. Eleanor wasn’t just a high school freshman when she started volunteering at UDPL, she was also a relatively new UD resident. She and I went through some UD first together – our first Community Day where it rained and we got soaked manning the library’s table, our first Friend’s Book Sale where she handed out fliers and helped the Friends, our first Movie in the Park where Eleanor and I both helped Tammy put up the giant movie screen at Mondauk, our first Halloween Party where Eleanor dressed up and used her many artistic skills in our face painting station. Eleanor was also a Reading Buddy, a member of TLC, and part of the first group of student interns to use the technology in the STEAM Lab. Every initiative or large event that the library has held, Eleanor has been there with us.
I am very proud and thankful for the opportunity to briefly mention their successes as well as their impact on UDPL and on me. I adore them both and will miss them terribly next year.