The John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School Out-Of-School Program Selected As A Teen Reading Lounge Pilot Site

The John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School Out-Of-School Program Selected As A Teen Reading Lounge Pilot Site

The John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School Out-of-School Program (OST) was one of four OST Programs located throughout the Philadelphia region selected as a Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) pilot site by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) for the 2017-2018 academic year. Hallahan OST is a ministry of Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The TRL is an award winning, non-traditional book club for teens ages 12 through 18. The program combines book-based learning and hands-on activities to help students build stronger interpersonal, communication, literacy, and critical-thinking skills. This is the first year that program expanded outside of the traditional library setting.

Hallahan OST received $9,000 in program funding to support the TRL. The funds cover program expenses and an outside facilitator. Hallahan’s TRL facilitator is Ms. Samantha Dugan, an English teacher from Conwell Egan High School. As a TRL facilitator, she helps plan the program and facilitates dialogue around the featured texts.

Approximately seven students participate in Hallahan’s TRL which meets bi-weekly. So far, the group has read four novels including “Dreams and Nightmares,” by Liliana Velazquez. This month, the group met Ms. Velazquez at an event hosted by Free Library of Philadelphia—Philadelphia City Institute.

Jo Nicole Bradley, Director of Hallahan OST said, “Ms. Velazquez’s book was so open and raw it brought the students into her life.  The student readers truly shared the journey with Liliana and walked in her shoes through some very troubling developments. Our students were excited to meet her and talk to her about her personal experiences.”

For more than 20 years, Catholic Social Services has served at-risk children and youth in grades K-12 through OST programs located throughout the city of Philadelphia. During the school year, the programs provide challenging and engaging learning experiences that help children develop the social, emotional, physical, and academic skills vital to future educational achievement. For more information, please visit

The Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. As a key part of its prevention focus, The Philadelphia Department of Human Services provides financial support to operate the Philadelphia Out-of-School Time pilot sites. For more information, please visit