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Service learning has taken over San Onofre School

This year at San Onofre School, three teachers got together to form a Service Learning Club, Ms. Ralston, Mrs. Dufour and Ms. Just. Since then many classes at the school have begun participating in service learning activities either for Haiti, kids in Africa, or troops in Iraq, but one of the classes that is leading the charge is Ms. Emily Just’s fifth grade class.

The fifth graders are working hard to help the kids in Africa get the things that they take for granted, including bathrooms and fresh water, by selling hot chocolate after school and sponsoring a Family Game Night.

Having been to Africa, Ms. Just found out that some of the kids don’t even have a pencil to write with or desks to sit at. During her time there, she also got to see what their restrooms really were, which were either non-existent or a bucket! Because the students know that health and sanitation are so important, they hope to raise thousands of dollars through various fundraising opportunities, like car washes and root beer float sales, so the kids at Kongowea School in Mombasa, Kenya can have a bathroom at their school.

Through her experiences Ms. Just has helped motivate her class to make a change in the lives of those who are less fortunate. Additionally, her class is participating in Cell Phones for Soldiers, which is where kids bring in their families’ used or broken cell phones, which then get recycled into phone cards so soldiers overseas can call home.

They also started a sock drive which received a donation of about 600 pairs of socks for a homeless shelter called Brother Benno’s Homeless Shelter. Finally, with the help of Ms. Just’s mom, Heidi Just, they are also knitting quilts for the kids at Casa de Amparo so the kids have something to keep them warm at night. The fifth graders are all learning to knit squares that will be croqueted together into quilts.

Although the class has helped with many causes, lots of other classes have done different activities, including the third grade classes which sold Smencils, which are smelly pencils. Each fruity or sugary smelling pencil was sold for $1 at the front of the school and all of the proceeds went to help the people of Haiti.

Also, two teachers, Mrs. Ballman and Mrs. Pezman, started the program called “Change for Change” which is where people are able to donate money, and the profits would help the people in Haiti, who were hit with terrible earthquakes, or the brave soldiers who were injured fighting for their country.

One of the other awesome programs was Mrs. Herter’s canned food drive, which went to the troops in Iraq. And finally, Ms. Bliss started a recycling program which is where her students go around getting the school’s recyclables, and then they exchange them for money. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s also good for Africa, because all the proceeds are donated there!

“I like the feeling I get when I help other people, while participating in service learning programs. My favorite one is the hot chocolate sales after school. First, because it’s hot chocolate, and second, because I like raising money for the kids and schools in Africa,” says Madison Ward, fifth grade student.

Other students also agree with Madison, not about how good the hot chocolate is (even though it’s good), but because of the warm feeling they get while helping with service learning projects.


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