Neighbors of Park City

How our family foundation fosters literacy and multicultural bonds

Local family brings multilingual reading room to Park City

By Maritza Roño Refuerzo, Neighbors of Park City

Coming from San Francisco, a culturally diverse city, my husband and I wondered about the demographic makeup of Park City, given the fact that the Park City School District (PCSD) has two Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs. The San Francisco school our sons attended is tucked between Glen Park and the Mission District, two areas encompassing myriad Hispanic and LatinX communities. In these neighborhoods, we could easily attend a Día de Los Muertos altar workshop at a San Francisco public library or check out ¡VIVA!, a Latino/Hispanic culture festival that’s free to the public. 

Earlier this year, I wrote a short piece about Casey & Charley’s Foundation for Dogs and Kids, a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit established by my family—my husband, Ray; our two sons, Marco Casey and Emilio Charley; and me. Our foundation supports organizations that promote language and youth arts enrichment, literacy, and the physical health and well-being of dogs. In Neighbors of Park City’s March issue, I discussed DLI (Dual Language Immersion) in Park City School District, where Marco and Emilio are students in its Spanish secondary pathway and Spanish DLI elementary model, respectively.

Ray and I, obviously both fans of multilingualism, discovered that in the PCSD, there are 4,600 students, with about two-thirds in either the Spanish or French DLI program.

We dreamt up a reading room, a hub for learning and cultural exchange… and brought it to life. Today it’s called Casey & Charley’s Lectura Lounge. The lounge is located in Prospector Square, close to PCHS, McPolin Elementary, TMJH and public transit. It’s set up like a living room, with multiple reading nooks, cushy seating, lively colors, dog-themed décor, and books in both Spanish and English (and French to come).

“One of our goals for Lectura Lounge is to offer the community another place to hang out, to bring everyone together, not just at the schools,” Ray explains. “The Prospector neighborhood is diverse—for the most part, it has a strong Latino presence—so I’d love for Marco and Emilio, along with other Spanish learners, to know more about the Latino and Hispanic cultures through reading buddies.” 

Lectura Lounge runs an afterschool reading buddies program, where volunteers read to kids whose dominant language is the opposite of theirs. Sessions are slated to be approximately an hour, with the first 20-30 minutes dedicated to a light meal, then nestling into comfy chairs with reading partners, complete with acoustic room dividers to help reduce neighboring noise. A 5:00 time slot is currently being offered, along with the light meal—free of charge to our communityevery Monday and Thursday to kick off the program

“It’s not an easy thing for kids to jump in and learn a second language for half the day,” Ray says, “and for parents to help with homework if they don’t know the second language their child is learning. We hope to eventually offer programs for adults, especially parents of DLI students, or even just host events for new families and all Park City residents.”

In addition to books, Lectura Lounge will have tabletop games like Bananagrams (in both English and Spanish), puzzles, bilingual movie nights with popcorn, and conversational AI language software that visitors can access. Drop-in hours are 9:00 to 4:00 on Monday and Thursday, 9:00 to 6:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9:00 to 5:00 on Friday. 

To learn more, visit the foundation’s website.

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