Greencastle Exchange Club takes book project to the national level

Greencastle Exchange Club honored community members who helped create a book for first-graders. It won a national award. Pictured, from left, front row: Caitlin Silva, Sarah Johnson, Laura Yacoubian, Heidi Yacoubian, Becky Pineda, Kelly Mower. Back row: Carolyn Baker, Robert Browning, Nathan Nardi, Garon Gembe, Adam Ritchey.

Greencastle Exchange Club has presented Greencastle-Antrim Primary School first-graders with a personalized book for years. Last spring they made the project entirely local, and won an award as a result.

“Let’s Go Fishing” was written by Becky Pineda. The illustrations were created by high school Art III students under the direction of Carolyn Baker. Graphic designer Adam Ritchey put the pages together and his employer Graphics Universal printed the 240 books.

The Exchange Club entered the product into the National Outstanding Service Project competition, and won the Youth Award at the National Convention of Exchange Clubs in Columbus, Ohio in July.

“This is just one example of the outstanding work the club does in Greencastle and the surrounding community,” said George Hubbard, Mid-Atlantic District Exchange Clubs president.

Putting it together

Exchange vice president Nathan Nardi said the project began with the club paying a vendor to produce the books. Eventually they bought the rights to do it themselves. Then the club decided to go independent and create their own publication, using the talents of local people.

Each book is personalized for the students, using names of people and pets important to them. The topic is a fishing trip, and the dilemma of using worms or corn for bait.

“I wanted a story that would appeal to both a boy and a girl,” Pineda said.

With fond memories of childhood fishing excursions, that became her plot.

“It’s exciting and I was glad to do it. I love to write,” she continued.

The art department also had to think broadly, and avoid pictures of people, since the characters changed in every book. Baker had her students brainstorm how to make the visuals interesting using scenery and objects.

They did it, and also inserted pictures of fish for the children to color.

The participating students were Caitlin Silva, Brittany Engle, Sarah Johnson, Abigail Fink-Gonzalez, Laura Yacoubian, Heidi Yacoubian, Skylar Grove and Robert Browning.

Browning plans to study art in college and is glad youngsters are reading the book.

“It may make them want to go into art. It feels really cool to do something to help these little kids,” he said.

“A huge thank you to the students for doing an awesome job,” said Kelly Mower, Exchange Club member who entered the information into the software.

Garon Gembe, owner of Graphics Universal, agreed to publish the books, and Ritchey worked on the pages. The project was funded with ad sponsorships.

Mower was thrilled that the book received a good reception at the local and national level.

“We are such a small club.”

Greencastle Exchange Club meets Thursday mornings. For information, call 240-347-2006.