The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

LafKid Connect brings Easton Area Middle School students to campus

LafKid Connect hosts students from Easton Middle School on campus every Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Camille Carthy ’23)

Although LafKid Connect is a relatively new program on campus, it has been making a major impact on Easton Area Middle School students through fun, skill-building activities with Lafayette students.

The idea for LafKid Connect was first conceived by Adam Finkelstein ‘20 in his senior year at Lafayette while taking a class on social entrepreneurship. With help from Associate Director of Landis Center Community Engagement Chelsea Morrese, he found a way to partner with the “Picasso program,” an afterschool program that runs for three hours.

Before Finkelstein graduated, he appointed two then-first-year students, Camille Carthy ‘23 and Samantha Riebesell ‘23, to take over LafKid Connect after his graduation. 

“I wanted to be involved and kind of lead this since [Finkelstein] was graduating, and I took on Camille as the co-president. And I was like, ‘I think we could really do a great job leading this together.’ And we founded it and have been leading it ever since,” Riebesell said.

As co-presidents, Carthy and Riebesell began the LafKid Connect programs online in the fall of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The middle schoolers] would actually just Zoom in and do activities,” Morrese said. “Actually, it was at one point where … we were dropping off materials at the middle school for the kids to use and then they would work on them together online.”

Despite having to conduct meetings and activities over Zoom, LafKid Connect was already beginning to impact the middle school students.

“It was a time also where the school districts needed some extra support,” Moresse said. “Their kids were not engaged. They weren’t showing up for class. So, we kind of used it as almost like an incentive. You know: ‘You zoom in for class and then you can do this too.’”

Although the LafKid Connect meetings are currently conducted on campus, in their junior year, Carthy and Reibesell went to Easton Area Middle School to meet with the students.

“When we would go there, I would say it was definitely a bit more rowdy,” Riebesell said. “It was harder to … keep them in with the activity at hand.”

Once pandemic restrictions were lifted, the meetings began to take place on Lafayette’s campus, and Carthy and Riebesell noticed a difference in the middle schoolers’ behavior as the location of the meetings changed.

“When they’re here, I’ve definitely noticed that they’re much more well-behaved and they’re taking more of an interest in what we’re doing. So I think their mindset changes a little bit,” Reibesell said.

LafKid Connect partners up with different Lafayette clubs to expose the middle schoolers to campus activities, such as making ice cream using liquid nitrogen with the American Chemical Society and writing their own stories with the help of the English Club.

“From partnering with those clubs, it’s kind of spreading what LafKid Connect is,” Carthy said.

Part of the mission of LafKid Connect is to help the middle schoolers envision their futures through a peer mentorship program. Easton Area Middle School teacher Jennifer Goodyear found that LafKid Connect especially impacted one of her students.

“[My student] was telling me that because of this, he asked questions about college and what it was going to be like and how he had to get into college and [what] kind of grades and so forth because he wants to be an engineer,” Goodyear said. “He was asking the people here how to do it. So yeah, it definitely impacts them.”

Students who want to get involved with LafKid Connect can visit the group’s Instagram page @lafkidconnect or reach out to students on the executive board through their emails.

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About the Contributor
Kristen Vincent, Assistant Culture Editor

Kristen Vincent ‘26 is an English Major and a Government and Law Minor. Aside from writing and editing for the newspaper, she is an EXCEL scholar, Writing Associate, LEO, and Secretary of the English Club. When she is not critiquing the latest biopic about a musician with a legendary past, she can be found working on her latest poem or rustling through the bargain bin at your local record store.

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