Spooktacular, a Halloween-themed program sponsored by Lehigh’s Community Service Office
, will once again delight and entertain children from Bethlehem’s South Side this weekend with a series of activities.
The popular event, which usually attracts more than 250 South Bethlehem children and their families to campus for an afternoon of frighteningly good fun, will run from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, on the third floor of the University Center.
Lehigh student groups began working with the Community Service Office last month to submit proposals for themes and activities. The groups met with Carolina Hernandez, director of the office, and with Marc Palmer ’10, the Spooktacular student coordinator for the past two years, before making final decisions. Student volunteers then started working to convert their assigned activities into reality.
In addition to activities and free food and drinks, the schoolchildren will have an opportunity to carve pumpkins and to trick or treat at the Tremblay Square apartments.
"The goal of Spooktacular—and all of our on-campus community service events—is to make South Bethlehem residents and their children feel more comfortable on Lehigh’s campus," says Palmer, a mechanical engineering major from Brewster, N.Y.
"Spooktacular is great because it allows these kids to feel a part of the Lehigh community and to interact with our students. Our hope is that being on campus and being with the Lehigh students will encourage them down the road to think about higher education."
Clear, concise communication
Palmer says his four years of volunteering in the Community Service Office and two years of overseeing the Spooktacular (three years, if you count the 2007 Spooktacular which he co-supervised with Tiffany Searles ’07) have been a great learning experience.
"Working in this office has helped make my Lehigh experience an even better one," said Palmer. "It’s given me the chance to try and make a difference in the community and to work alongside Carolina Hernandez.
"She’s a great boss, because she gives you a long leash. She wants you to shape the events that you work on and to learn important skills that you can use in your life after Lehigh such as how to manage a large project and how to communicate in a concise, clear fashion with a number of volunteers from all across campus to ensure that an event goes off just right."
"Spooktacular is one of the most well-attended local community events of the year, along with the annual Spring Fling," says Hernandez. "This is a special program that challenges students to be creative, and allows them to witness firsthand the fruits of the efforts. They see the UC filled with kids running around in their costumes, taking part in all kinds of activities and really enjoying themselves. The place is just filled with life and laughter.
"And Marc does a great job of running the event, which isn’t easy because you’re bringing together 20 different groups from all across campus. He’s diligent, organized and dedicated to serving others—something that he’s done since his freshman year at Lehigh."
Palmer’s day planner will remain jammed after Spooktacular is over. He is applying to graduate schools between now and Dec. 1, and he plans to delve more deeply into mechanical engineering in the classroom, while volunteering outside the classroom.
His graduate school application won’t lack credentials. An Eckardt scholar
, Palmer is a Gryphon and the recipient of the Treen Memorial scholarship. He is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma honor society, the Lehigh student chapter of ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), and the Catholic Student Union. Plus, he has interned at Procter & Gamble-Gillette’s research and development group in Boston.
"The company that ends up hiring Marc Palmer will be quite lucky," says Hernandez. "Not only is he smart, hard-working and driven, but he he cares about the world around him and he wants to help serve others."
Story by Bill Doherty
Posted on Friday, October 23, 2009