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Penn College Students, Employees Participate in Local ‘Big Read’

This design by Natalie A. Smith, a graphic design major from Williamsport, is among the original book-cover artwork in a Big Read competition. Students and employees at Pennsylvania College of Technology, a partner in Lycoming County Big Read 2007, are taking on projects to support the initiative.

The National Endowment for the Arts is funding the The Big Read in communities across the nation, aiming to rejuvenate interest in literary reading. For the program here, facilitated by the Lycoming County Library System/James V. Brown Library, Penn College and other Lycoming County partners will present activities related to Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Penn College is planning projects on campus and off. Graphic design students, under the direction of Gary R. DiPalma, instructor of graphic design, are designing original book jackets for the novel. Their designs will be judged, with prizes for the top two provided by Borders bookstore. The book jackets will be displayed in all Big Read venues.

Mass communication students in Advanced Digital Media Production classes will record Big Read events and produce a DVD that will be submitted to the NEA. Students from the same major who are enrolled in the Radio Station Operation and Production course will record public-service announcements to help promote the events. The PSAs will air on the college radio station, WPTC 88.1 FM.

On campus, the Madigan Library is hosting a display of shoes from all walks of life (with a short narrative explaining where each pair has been) to demonstrate a quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird” character Atticus Finch: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” To further explore the quote, Penn College students have been invited to compete in an essay contest, relating the statement to their own lives or to humankind.

Students, employees taking part in Big Read.On March 24, during the college’s Visitation Day, the Madigan Library will host “Talkin’ the Blues.” Billtown Blues Challenge winner (and Penn College alumnus) Jonah Gregory will play a set with David Lynn from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. From 1 to 2 p.m., Gregory will present a musical blues program focusing on artists from the 1930s, the era in which “To Kill a Mockingbird” is set.

On April 13, the Madigan Library will host a book discussion titled “In Search of Atticus.” Attorneys Ken Hagreen and Brent Petrosky will discuss the ideal lawyer. The talk is scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m.

From noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 18, the library will host a book review of “To Kill a Mockingbird” over a brown-bag lunch.

Penn College faculty and staff members will also facilitate programs at area public libraries. College volunteers are William J. Astore, associate professor of history; Daniel J. Doyle, professor emeritus of history; Mary A. Doyle, part-time instructor of psychology; Eugene M. McAvoy, assistant professor of English-composition; Brad L. Nason, assistant professor of mass communications; Clifford P. Coppersmith, assistant dean of integrated studies; and Wendy A. Cunningham, documentation manager.

For more information about local Big Read events, visit online.

The Big Read is meant to address the national decline in literary reading as documented in the NEA’s 2004 landmark survey “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America,” which showed that less than half of the American adult population reads literature.

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