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When Jahlicia Cruz started interning with York Academy Regional Charter School, she knew she wanted to do something to enhance the reading skills of the students during her time there. She decided to host free book drives and an event at Martin Library.

Cruz is a senior at Penn State York focusing on human development and family studies. For her senior project, she needed to identify a need and find a solution during her internship. She chose to focus on reading skills at York Academy, and her event at Martin Library is one aspect of her solution.

First, she sent students in the school home with a paper bag and a note to the parents explaining that the school was looking for book donations from students. More than 1,400 books were collected in five days from the staff, faculty and students.

A book drive was then held for the entire school so students were able to find new-to-them books for free.

"I wanted to teach younger students that if they have a book and have already read it, let someone else read that book," Cruz said. "Look out for your York Academy family."

The final part of her project will be taking that attitude and extending it to the public. Fifteen student ambassadors have been selected from York Academy to help Cruz in each step of her project, especially her event at Martin Library. Five of these sixth- and seventh-grade students will work together to choose a book to read to younger children at the library.

After the story, the students will work with the children to do a craft related to the book, which Cruz said will probably be fall-themed. The event is free and open to the public.

Cruz will continue to give the free, donated books to parents at parent-teacher conferences in the two days before her event. If there are books left over, she plans to bring them to Martin Library to give to community members.

Her project seeks to help students at York Academy reach the reading goals the charter school emphasizes in its instruction. She wanted to be sure that students had new and interesting books to read.

The Saturday event at Martin Library will be free to the public and will begin at 1 p.m. Martin Library is located at 159 E. Market St. in York City.

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