September 29, 2008
Students Forge New Friendships
By Banks Albach
In an effort to build partnerships with other schools, the newly- formed Ravenswood Education Foundation began making friends this week.The foundation invited 70 Menlo School eighth-graders to the seven Ravenswood City School District campuses Friday, where they mingled with elementary students during recess, read aloud to kindergartners in class and shared ideas with their eighth-grade peers over lunch.
The excursion was also part of Menlo's eighth-grade annual community service project. The students collected books for district libraries and raised about $5,000 in gifts for Ravenswood's positive behavior program, which offers prizes to students exhibiting "safety, respect and responsibility."
Once stored in classrooms, however, the boxes of donations were a small part of the day. At Flood Elementary, Connor Patterson, 14, Jeremy Stern, 12, and eight other Menlo School students spent recess shooting basketball, jump-roping and tossing footballs with a group of young elementary students.
And in the classroom, Jeremy said he had a great time just watching the younger students learn.
"It's like nothing can stand in their way," Jeremy said.
Throughout the district, similar interactions were taking place Friday afternoon. As Jose Nava, 5, was returning to class from recess at Green Oaks Academy, he said he played tag with the older kids and talked to them during lunch.
"I told them they could be my friends," Jose said.
Next door at Cesar Chavez Academy, the elementary school's Renaissance Team -- students who voluntarily mentor others on campus -- was having lunch with 10 Menlo students. The group of about 26 students painted banners for the school's upcoming fall festival and went on a scavenger hunt that taught the visitors about the campus, its students and its teachers.
"This should happen more than once per year," said academy eighth- grader and Renaissance Team member Dinah Motuliki, 13.
That's what Charley Scandlyn, executive director for the Ravenswood Education Foundation, hopes to achieve.
Whether it's a large event with hundreds of students or monthly collaboration between eighth-graders from different districts, Scandlyn said forging partnerships, especially across cultural and socioeconomic lines, is important for everyone's success. On March 13, the entire Sacred Heart Preparatory School -- about 550 students and 50 staff -- is coming to the district.
And a partnership with Menlo School might be brewing. Patti Yukawa, one of the parent volunteers helping with the community service project, said she hopes to bring the Renaissance Team from Cesar Chavez to Menlo School soon.
The Ravenswood Education Foundation was launched in January with the intention of raising outside funding for the Ravenswood district. Scandlyn said the organization has brought in about $450,000 so far and spent much of it on classroom renovations, technology upgrades and quality improvement for teachers, such as a new lounge area.
E-mail Banks Albach at [email protected]
Originally published by Banks Albach, MediaNews.
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