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Jefferson Hills summer programs provide plenty for youngsters to do

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Murphy the striped skunk follows a trail of apple chunks around a pen inside the program room at Jefferson Hills library on Tuesday afternoon. Murphy was the special guest during an Animal Rescue League presentation.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Murphy the striped skunk sniffs around his pen inside the program room at Jefferson Hills library on Tuesday afternoon. Murphy was the special guest during an Animal Rescue League presentation.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Easton Noderer, 4, of Jefferson Hills does his best impression of a digging skunk during an Animal Rescue League presentation on Tuesday at the borough library.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Bella Stosic, 4, of Jefferson Hills gets a boost from her sister Destinie Stosic, 11, as she identifies squirrels and other woodland creatures during a slideshow, as part of the Animal Rescue League's library program on Tuesday.

Jefferson Hills Public Library's summer reading program and the borough's summer camp provided children from the community with plenty of fun and educational experiences this season.

The theme for the reading program was “Dig Into Reading” and featured a variety of gardening and digging-related festivities.

One of the most entertaining events at the library was Tuesday's visit by Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center's humane and environmental educator Gilda Arroyo and Murphy, a 3-year-old striped skunk.

Arroyo talked about squirrels, foxes and other animals that dig as well as fielded questions from the children prior to bringing out the animal.

Olivia McGuirk, 10, of Jefferson Hills and her cousins Cassidy LaMarca, 6, and Dominica LaMarca, 4, also from Jefferson Hills, were exited about the visit.

“I didn't know that squirrels did dig. I thought they just hid their acorns in a tree hole,” Olivia said. “I knew that foxes dug their den out, but I didn't know that they dug their food to keep it cool. I never saw a skunk before, only road kill.”

The girls not only enjoyed the animal program, but also like to visit the library.

“I like what kind of books they have,” Cassidy said. “‘On Top of Spaghetti' (is my favorite book). It's fun (at the library).”

“I like the books,” Dominica said. “I like to eat apples.”

The girls said going to the Animal Rescue League would be a fun field trip.

Olivia said she was involved in last year's library reading program, and wants more children to take part in it.

“Reading is sort of fun,” Olivia said. “I didn't do it this year so I could go to my camp.”

Jefferson Hills resident Bob LaFrankie brought his grandchildren, Cooper LaFrankie and Cody Bloom, to the library.

“They learn a lot. Cooper loves coming here,” Bob LaFrankie said.

Bob LaFrankie said parents would really enjoy the programs with their children.

Jefferson Hills children's librarian Ann Zettl said the reading program's success is a team effort.“I want to thank my teens because my teens do a lot to help out with the summer reading program,” Zettl said. “They help out with the artwork around the community room ... A lot of them have been here for several years. They come back and they tell their friends. We have a good group of kids that help out. With all these little ones, they get individualized attention so it's great. The kids look up to our teens for sure. No question.”

Library summer events draw 35-40 youths.

“I'm amazed by the questions that they ask,” Zettl said. “You can tell that their little minds are thinking all the time. Just the excitement and enthusiasm. I think it's great. They're learning. Programs like this, they take something home with them.”

Activities conclude next week for the reading and camp programs.

A dinosaur party is planned for the reading program for preschool and kindergartners on Tuesday and for kindergartners through fifth-graders on Thursday. Children are encouraged to continue their reading and keeping track of a reading log through August for prizes.

Jefferson Hills summer camp is for children ages 6-12. Camp hours are 9 a.m. to noon weekdays at Gill Hall GBU Community Center and 885 Andrew Reilly Memorial Park. About 120 registered campers participated. Camp registration closed last month.

Monday is kite craft day. A scavenger hunt is planned for Tuesday. Participants will go to a zoo on Wednesday, make homemade Gak on Thursday, and have a Wiffle ball game on Friday.

People still can participate in the free library events. More information about summer reading is available online at

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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