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LEARNING HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.



Byline: ROBERT NOTT

Books can work like miracles for homeless children.

That's how Vanessa -- a third-grader in Brenda Dominguez's class at Agua Fria A·gua Fri·a  

A river of western Arizona rising east of Prescott and flowing about 193 km (120 mi) generally southward to the Gila River west of Phoenix.
 Elementary School elementary school: see school.  who took part in a classwide project to collect books to donate to the district's homeless students -- explained it Monday.

Vanessa was one of 18 very animated third- and fourth-graders who spoke with pride of their efforts, which netted 1,655 books. The book drive benefits Santa Fe Public Schools' Adelante Program, which has been serving homeless school-age children and their families for six years. More than 850 students qualify as homeless, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Adelante estimates.

The students were inspired to launch the drive after Adelante program coordinator Gaile Herling visited the class earlier this semester to speak about the needs of homeless students. Herling screened an educational video for the class that showed the challenges faced by one homeless student whose house had been destroyed by a tornado.

"We made a poster that showed how we could help," explained third-grader Jocelyn, pointing to a poster on the back door of the classroom. "We could collect groceries or games or books. We chose books because they're the easiest to collect."

The class's goal was 800, but their energetic efforts garnered them more than double that number. The students made wall charts detailing book-donation quotas in every grade. The class that donated the most books -- Rebecca Casaus' fourth- and fifth-graders -- earned a popsicle party, courtesy of Dominguez's class.

The class also discussed what it means to be homeless, and several students recounted stories of how their parents helped homeless people who they encountered at the grocery store or on the street.

"Homeless students don't have what we do," said Angela, a very confident third-grader. "They don't have books, and we do." Angela also said that if you read a book once and it really grabs you, you'll want to read it again and again.

The emphasis on books reinforced the importance of reading, as was made evident as many of Dominguez's students said reading teaches them new words and important facts. One student said a good book makes her feel "peaceful," while another said books take her on a journey.

The collected books were piled on the floor and on a table in the hallway outside the class. The titles and topics included the usual children's favorites involving Sleeping Beauty Sleeping Beauty

sleeps for 100 years. [Fr. Fairy Tale, The Sleeping Beauty]

See : Enchantment


Sleeping Beauty

enchanted heroine awakened from century of slumber by prince’s kiss.
, Cinderella, Snow White, Harry Potter and Curious George Curious George

inquisitive, mischievous monkey. [Children’s Lit.: Curious George]

See : Curiosity
. A small percentage of books were fictional paperbacks more suited for adults, and some of the books were in Spanish.

On Dec. 3, members of the class will help hand out the books to homeless students at Cesar Chavez Elementary School ]]

At 1221 Anderson Road, Davis, California lies Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Originally at this location was the prior school, West Davis Elementary school. In 1997 they turned West Davis Elementary School into Cesar Chavez Elementary School, a Spanish Immersion (just like
, where the Adelante program hosts a weekly social-services event that includes dinner, workshops on relevant issues related to homelessness, and art classes for homeless students.

"There's a lot of economic difficulties that our students and students around the city are experiencing," Dominguez said in explaining why she encouraged the drive. "I want my students to feel empowered and learn how they can make a difference without it being dependent upon a financial donation."

Agua Fria's assistant principal, Vanessa I. Romero, said that overall, the school's teachers and students are very supportive of the immediate community, but that Dominguez is particularly "amazing a·maze  
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es

v.tr.
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.

2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.

v.intr.
" in this department.

Dominguez, who has taught at Agua Fria for nine years (she was a student there herself), works a social-services project into her lesson plan every quarter.

"I don't just want them to be great students," she said of her class. "I want them to be great citizens."

Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or rnott@sfnewmexican.com.
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Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Nov 24, 2009
Words:603
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