Students and faculty come together to plan day for city children

It is December. Do you hear what I hear? It is the laughter of a small child. Do you see what I see? It is the brilliance of a youthful smile. No, it is not Christmas morning. It is Rhoads Day.

Every December, the children of James Rhoads middle school in Philadelphia set foot on Villanova University’s campus. It is a tradition that began a little over a decade ago. Dr. Terry Nance, chair of the communication department here at Villanova, established a relationship with the faculty and staff of James Rhoads School during her involvement in a research project. “After the project was over,” Dr. Nance said, “two of the teachers asked if they could bring the students to campus as a way of encouraging them to stay in school and work to go to college.”

The arrangements were made and Rhoads Day evolved into an annual event.

Initially, the day was a service activity which Dr. Nance incorporated into her Methods and Materials in Secondary School English and Communication or Speech Communication in the Classroom course. Since Dr. Nance no longer teaches either of these two courses, she contacted Dr. Mark Doorley, now a faculty sponsor of Rhoads Day, and asked if the Service Learning Community of Alumni Hall would be interested in organizing the event.

Dr. Doorley commented on the importance of continuing the connection with James Rhoads Middle School. “Rhoads Day,” Dr. Doorley said, “is precisely the kind of thing Villanova University is devoted to-providing a space for people of diverse backgrounds to discover their potential.”

This year, the Service Learning Community has control over the planning and execution of Rhoads Day. A TOG, or task oriented group was formed under the guidance of Carmen Ruiz Castaneda and Laura Egan. William Cameron, a member of the TOG, played a role in organizing the volunteers. Cameron said, “It is important for one to help put together a service event to help others and learn from the leadership duties that one serves in.”

The Sophomore Learning Community has planned a full day of fun for this year’s group of visiting fifth and sixth graders. Their day begins at 10 a.m. at the Pavilion, where they will be greeted and escorted to the Connelly Center Cinema. There, the students will be split into three groups. Each group will then participate in the three scheduled events: Football drills, an astronomy presentation, and an interactive African dance session. Later in the afternoon, the students will watch performances by the Villanova Spires and the Asian Students Association. At the end of the day, they will depart for James Rhoads School with a bag full of goodies and a heart full of memories.