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A whimsical achievement for literacy

Literacy and book fans Richelle Rikal, Diane Bialecki, Nancy Cingolani, Karen Sheakley, and Dr. Maureen Russell on Sunday at Butler County Community College. Chris Leisie/Special to the Eagle

Many of us take for granted the joy of curling up with a good book or reading the U.S. tax code.

Well, maybe not so much the tax code. But it’s important to be capable of understanding the tax code, especially this time of year.

So what better time to host an event dedicated to literacy?

The Rotary Club of Butler PM hosts a luncheon for literacy at Butler County Community College each year. Funds raised benefit the college’s adult literacy program, which helps some people earn their general education degrees and others learn English as a second language.

And it’s not some boring affair. Every year, attendees deck out their tables with themes from the literary world. This year, there was live music and a cookie table.

James Bond and Harry Potter were in attendance. Sort of.

Author and BC3 graduate Juliette Godot was on hand to discuss her process and to read a bit from her book, “From the Drop of Heaven.”

But the guests of honor were a few of the people who have benefited from all this effort.

Two alumni of BC3’s literacy program spoke at the luncheon, Cearra Mackalica, who earned her General Education Development diploma through BC3, and Khadija Akhouad, who arrived from Morocco speaking Arabic and French, and learned English as her “third” language at the college.

Both are now full fledged college students.

Barb Gade, grant director of BC3’s adult literacy program, said during the luncheon the program’s classes are funded through federal and state money. The Rotary Club has helped the program provide scholarships to help students pay the $142 it costs to take the four tests required to earn a GED.

“If they want to take the GED, we’re allowed to give them a scholarship for the practice test, but we weren’t allowed to scholarship them for the actual test,” Gade said. “Rotary heard about our need ... it helps us to afford what we do in the community.”

The luncheon raised about $3,200 in its first year. This year’s total has not yet been calculated.

These extraordinary efforts provide an added level of support to those seeking to better themselves through education. We applaud the Rotarians, BC3, and everyone who put in the time and effort to create a fun and engaging event.

— RJ

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