The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Reading Initiative hosts free pancake restaurant in the library for second annual Valentine’s “read dating” event

Students+at+the+Read+Dating+Restaurant+on+Valentines+Day.
Katherine Lian
Students at the Read Dating Restaurant on Valentines Day.
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On Valentine’s Day, the Townsend Harris Reading Initiative held its second annual “Read Dating” event right after school in the library. With half of the library decorated and set up as the “Read Dating” restaurant, teachers and staff members took on the roles of wait staff, cooks, and hosts as students had a Valentine’s Day “read date” based on their love poetry preferences. 

“When I first walked into the left-hand section of the library, I was greeted with vibrant colors of pink and red everywhere to fit the romantic mood,” said freshman Adora Uddin. “The tables were also really well decorated, and the whole event brought back a lot of nostalgia for when I was younger.”

Adora said that there were some couples present, but the majority were friends who had come together to have a good time. Students could order either chocolate chip or plain pancakes and a beverage, with everything being free. 

Librarian Arlene Laverde paired students based on their rankings of a series of love poems that all students received in their email. Some students sat based on these rankings and met a new friend, while others were already friends or couples who requested to sit together no matter what their rankings were. 

Junior Tristin Hall, who was matched with a friend, said, “The event was really fun and the quality time I had with [my friend] Denise while downing pancakes was entertaining.”

I highly recommend that others attend these events throughout the school year, as it definitely helps [to] clear one’s mind.

— Adora Uddin

Many teachers helped out at the event. English teacher Brian Sweeney worked with Mrs. Laverde to plan the event. Social Studies Teacher Blayne Gelbman cooked the pancakes. Social Worker Alison Harris-Chauvet, Parent Coordinator Jodie Lasoff, and Social Studies Teacher Eleni Sardina took on the role of waitstaff.  Save for Ms. Sardina, who joined THHS this year, everyone who helped out this year also helped out last year. 

It began last year as English teacher Brian Sweeney, and librarian of THHS Arlene Laverde, created a Valentine’s Day event for students to enjoy the special day while still getting in some time to read. Students who attended the event had nice experiences, and the majority said that they would return next year when it takes place again. 

Around sixty students attended, and unlike other Reading Initiative events, which have involved hundreds, this event is designed to have limited space to create a more personal experience. 

“The turnout was exactly what we were hoping for,” Mr. Sweeney said. “We wanted it to be a simple event that was in the spirit of the holiday.” 

Freshman Anisha Islam said, “the read dating event was nice and calm…my friend and I spent the entire time relaxing and just talking to each other after such a busy day.”

Anisha’s friend, freshman Gabriella Karpiuk said the event was “a relaxing way to spend time.” In terms of suggestions for the future, she encouraged the organizers to go bigger with the Valentine’s theme: “there could be improvements in ambiance and overall setting [which] would make it seem more like a Valentine’s event,” Gabriella said.  

Freshman Vivian Lin said the only thing she’d change about the event would be to include more reading materials. “Perhaps since it is a read dating event, they can provide us with some reading material at the event while we are eating pancakes. Although, with just the pancakes, the event is still really enjoyable,” she said.

Teachers making pancakes for the “Read Dating” restaurant hosted by the Townsend Harris Reading Initiative on February 14. (Katherine Lian)

Mr. Sweeney said that he and Mrs. Laverde, who both plan all Reading Initiative events, hope to create social events that students enjoy first and foremost. By getting people to talk about their events, they said they believe more people will stay aware of the larger goals of the initiative. 

“Each event keeps the goals of the Reading Initiative in the spotlight,” Mr. Sweeney said. “By putting on social events that a lot of people are talking about, more students raise awareness about the Reading Initiative and our efforts to encourage more independent reading.” 

“I highly recommend that others attend these events throughout the school year, as it definitely helps [to] clear one’s mind,” Adora said.

Vivian said she would “of course” be coming back to the event next year. “I love the pancakes and the creativity of the event astounds me,” she said.

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About the Contributors
Shayra Shoshi, Science & Technology Editor
Shayra is a Junior at Townsend Harris High School. She spends her free time hand-knitting, reading, and journaling. She hopes to study medicine in the future.
Katherine Lian, Multimedia Chief
Katherine Lian is a senior at Townsend High School who enjoys taking pictures, dancing, and trying new things. Her favorite memory with The Classic was her trip to Albany with her peers.
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