Monday, February 11, 2013

3 things to do on a rainy day

1. Find a good book.
2. Sit down in a comfy chair.
3. Get lost in the adventure that awaits.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Latinos find success in BEHS service class December 19, 2012


This is the article that I wrote and was published in the Box Elder 
News Journal in Brigham City, UT


Latinos In Action
By Sharee Wanner
Staff writer

For Mauricio Valdez, his family’s move to Brigham City was terribly frightening for the small boy. It was more than just a new place; Mauricio couldn’t read, write or speak the language, either. Somewhere along the way, however, someone had a lasting impact on Mauricio, and he is now paying the favor forward by participating in Box Elder High School’s Latinos In Action class.
“I’m not sure who made a difference. I didn’t read a lot until I was in ninth grade,” said Mauricio, who indicated that he never really read anything. “But now I can read 600 pages in like a week.”
Mauricio is one of 21 students in the Latinos In Action Class who go to Lake View Elementary four times a week to help first graders improve their reading and literacy skills by reading short stories and working on fluency, phonetics and sight words exercises.
“It’s a critical time and very important to learn to read,” Mauricio said. “It’s very rewarding. It makes me feel good when I get to help.”
Mauricio and his classmates work one-on-one with the elementary students they mentor and are fully engaged with them for the 30-minute class. The students even form bonds as they get to know each other’s likes and favorite things to do.
High school student Ruben Davila said the biggest thing he’s learned from the program—“keeping the kids on track and on task”—is leadership.
Daniela Macias said, “I love the kids. I can translate to other people who are unable to speak English.”
The Latinos In Action program was started in Provo, but has expanded to several schools in Utah, Texas and Washington State. This is the second year Box Elder High School has sponsored the class. In order to be a member of the class, a student must be of Latino descent and maintain a good G.P.A. In addition to the reading program, the Latinos In Action class has other requirements for service and education, including sponsoring cultural activities at the high school.
According to Box Elder High School Latinos In Action advisor, Robbie Gunter, the program embraces “the good of both cultures and...trying to change the future of kids’ families by helping them graduate from high school and have the opportunity to go to college.” Likewise, the effects the youth in the Latinos In Action program have on their elementary-aged protégées will last for many years to come.
What’s more, high school students learn skills while participating in the Latinos In Action class will contribute to their future successes.
Mark Johnson, principal at Lake View Elementary, adds, “I am a real believer in service and I think that giving them the opportunity to help a child and having an impact on the future of a first grader can only help them. I think they develop more compassion and a greater sense of responsibility.”
Robbie Gunter agrees the lasting impact will be one of serving their community and trying to better themselves and their future families through education.
“All BEHS seniors in the class graduated last year, three of them are in college, and the rest are working to save money to go.”
As a whole, 100 percent of the students in the program have graduated from high school and 85 percent of them have gone on to further their education in college.