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Local STEM Youth Explorer Academy participants attend annual Rotary picnic

Allentown West Rotary held its annual picnic to celebrate each other and to enjoy the company of other Rotarians recently at the home of Rotarians Bill and Sue Weber.

About 50 people were there, including three of the five middle school students that the club sponsored for Rotary District 7430 STEM Youth Explorer Academy which took place at Albright College, Reading.

Rotary District 7430 STEM Youth Explorer Academy participants at the picnic included Kylie Graczyk from Northwestern Lehigh Middle School, Gaurav Perugu and Vishank Somala, both from Springhouse Middle School.

The club’s public image chair Marlene Heller interviewed the students about their participation in the STEM Youth Explorer Academy at the picnic.

“They all said they were glad they went and that what they learned will help them in their future in some way,” Heller emailed The Press. “Vishank said the best thing that happened during the weekend was looking through the powerful telescopes, it was the first time he’d seen the moon up close. For Kylie, it was meeting all the people she met. For Gaurav, it was making new friends.

“Kylie wants to be a vet, Vishank wants to be a geologist and Gaurav wants to do something in biology,” Heller added.

Heller said the students would definitely encourage other students to consider attending in the future and Graczyk assured them, even though it’s called “camp, it’s not in the middle of the woods.”

The Allentown West Rotary will be looking for students in Parkland and Northwestern to attend STEM YEA again next year and all the other middle schools in Lehigh County.

“As for the picnic itself, it was great,” Heller said. “Delicious food, which everybody brought; I brought the baked beans. There were interesting salads, barbecue, macaroni and cheese, hot and cold appetizers, and of course, the best desserts including a birthday cake for one of our members, Halyna Stegura, who was celebrating her birthday.

“She is a longtime member and resident of Macungie who never stops helping others, even while battling her own health issues,” Heller said. “Besides being a Rotarian, I know she volunteers at Lehigh Valley Health Network – Cedar Crest, because I am also a volunteer there. She joined Rotary in 1997 and joined our club in 2003.”

“Bill and Sue Weber, who own the farm where the picnic is held, are wonderful to let us use it every year,” Heller said.

PHOTOS COURTESY of ALLENTOWN WEST ROTARY Vishank Somala, Kylie Graczyk, and Gaurav Perugu, are all participants in the inaugural STEM YEA program at Albright College recently, sponsored by Allentown West Rotary Club.
Sue Weber, center, graciously welcomes Rotarians to the picnic at her farm. Listening are District Governor Len Gieseler, Allentown West Rotary Club President Gail Micca, Bill Weber, Dennis Houser and Helen Papathanasiou.
Cindy Hornaman helps Halyna Stegura as she blows out the candles on her birthday cake.