Friday, May 3, 2019

A Tribute to Stephanie

It has been a little over a year since the incredible Stephanie Squicciarini passed away. After we lost her, I lived in a state of disbelief and confusion at how any of us would go on without her. The founder of TBF, the hero who fought for libraries and teens all over Monroe County, and our very own Fairport Teen Librarian. I cried,  I read through every email she'd ever sent me, and remembered every memory she had helped me to make. I hold each memory I have with her so tightly in my heart, and carry them with me everywhere I go, hoping to make her proud each day. Here are some of my favorites:

Growing up in Fairport, I have been involved in library programs since I was a little kid in Library Club, which is where I first met Stephanie. She would pop into my elementary school, and later my middle school every once in a while. Nevertheless, I didn't truly know her yet as the children's librarians ran our club. But as we all grew up she and the incredible Carly Dennis founded the Teen Fairport Advisory Board, or as we all nicknamed it, FAB and then I finally truly met her.

We'd meet once every month and a half or so, usually on days off from school in the early afternoon. Here I made friends and found out about incredible books through the countless ARCs Stephanie would receive and share with us all, encouraging us to take "at least one more!" as she'd rather one of us have and maybe love them, rather than have them piled up in a dark back room. One of those books she pushed my way was Kids of Appetite by David Arnold, which I ended up loving. Inside was an old style library due date card, with a cute funny little summary on it that Stephanie had written. That card hangs above my bookcase to this day.

At the founding of the club, we had two packages of Oreos and every meeting more seem to appear. Stephanie would always call it our buffet. I remember one summer I showed up and saw the new Fourth of July special 'Firework Oreos'. My friend and I laughed and cheersed them and wondered where the pop rocks were until our mouths started to pop (and didn't stop for the whole rest of the meeting). I remember Stephanie trying one and saying, "these ones aren't as good as the others," as she proceeded to eat a second. Maybe just to make us smile, like she always did.

When I was in eighth grade, Stephanie was the one who suggested me to the team as a blogger and made sure I got involved with TBF, as she knew I'd love it. The fall of 2017, I wrote a blog post about wanting to read American Panda by Gloria Chao, and the week after at a FAB meeting Stephanie pulled me aside and excitedly said she'd read my post and loved it. She then pulled an advanced copy of it from behind her back and insisted I take it and write a review of it. Last TBF, our first without Stephanie, I volunteered with Gloria Chao and knew she would have been so happy and excited to see me there.

A week after she passed away, our head blogger and I were talking on the phone and told me Stephanie always said she was so proud of what I had become, and couldn't wait to see me succeed in my future endeavors. And to this day, I think of her and hope I am making her proud, with everything I do, and with every book I read.

Until next month,

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