Inaugural book festival looks to unite Stoneleigh-Burnham School with broader community

Stoneleigh-Burnham School’s main entrance in Greenfield.

Stoneleigh-Burnham School’s main entrance in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Stoneleigh-Burnham School on Bernardston Road in Greenfield.

Stoneleigh-Burnham School on Bernardston Road in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ABNER ROJAS

For the Recorder

Published: 05-18-2024 4:32 PM

GREENFIELD — At Stoneleigh-Burnham School’s inaugural Community Book Festival next weekend, organizers will be giving out free books to raise interest in reading and build a stronger connection between the school and the Greenfield community.

“Community connection is the main focus,” said Head of School Laurie Lambert. “The secondary focus is the awareness of Stoneleigh-Burnham within this community and that we enjoy getting to know our community and having that special connection. Books are a wonderful way for this to happen.”

The event is free to attend and will take place on Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus, 574 Bernardston Road. In case of rain, the event will be moved inside the school’s gymnasium.

“We’re going to invite people in, give them a bag, and then they can take as many books as they want,” said Dave Garappolo, event organizer and the school’s director of auxiliary programs.

Book bags with the Stoneleigh-Burnham School logo will be on sale for $10 that people can then fill with books.

The festival will also include a tag sale for anyone looking to sell their own goods, whether they’re professional crafts or anything they want to part with.

Vendors who wish to participate can purchase a table from the school.

Attendees can also expect live music, food trucks and an inflatable obstacle for kids to enjoy.

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Lambert and the school hope to entice people with these fun, engaging activities to turn the Community Book Festival into a yearly event that fosters a stronger relationship with the people of Greenfield.

By putting books in people’s hands, Stoneleigh-Burnham intends to raise interest in reading and bring people together.

“We want to give as many free books as possible to support reading in our community — children, adults and everybody in between,” Garappolo said, noting that cost and accessibility are also big factors in folks owning physical books.

“It also gives everyone access to books,” he continued. “Oftentimes the price of books is expensive or maybe they just don’t have access because of transportation. Well, this book festival is going to enable those who do not have the ability, to come and to pick out something that they might not even think that they would like to read and maybe they’ll fall in love with them.”

From children’s books and murder mysteries to biographies and self-help books, the festival will offer a wide range of genres for attendees of all ages to choose from.

Book donations come from community partners such as the Greenfield Kiwanis Club, Franklin County’s YMCA, the Greenfield Knights of Columbus and local libraries.

The event will also host a panel discussing the writing process and journey of local authors.

Guest appearances include Joe Martino, author of “On the Run: Friendships & Finish Lines,” and Serena Burdick, author of “The Girls with No Names.”

The private, all-girls boarding and day school will have its students in attendance, helping to bridge the connection between the school and the broader community.

“We love Greenfield and the community,” Lambert said. “We have over 60 day students from the surrounding community, although people I don’t think realize that. We love books because we’re a school, so why not meld the two together and see if it can be a fun, festive and even educational day.”

For Lambert and Garappolo, the book festival also serves as a great opportunity to show off the beauty of the campus and how it can be rented out for all kinds of events, such as weddings or class reunions.

Mary Maloney, chair of Stoneleigh-Burnham School’s board of trustees and an alumna, agrees that having the book festival and events like it will go a long way toward showing the community that Stoneleigh-Burnham is a part of Greenfield.

“One of the things we’re trying to do at Stoneleigh is to have community activities, things that link the school to the community so that we are not separate entities,” Maloney said when asked how attendees should feel coming out of the book festival. “It just seemed to be an awesome way to get people to come to share books.”