Tutoring Program Fosters Service and Student Camaraderie

LENDING A HAND: The 28 fifth-graders from Montemalaga Elementary School in Palos Verdes Estates rushed to class, sat down and tried to stay calm as they waited for their guests to arrive.

Five minutes later, 30 first-graders dashed into the classroom, ran to their peer tutors and started working on spelling, coloring, reading and simple math problems.

Once a week, fifth-graders at Montemalaga Elementary help first-graders with their exercises. Fourth-graders also help tutor first- and second-graders.

The tutoring helps improve the rapport among older and younger students while taking some of the workload off teachers.

Last week, fifth-grader Elsa Tung had her pupils, twins Yuyu and Mana Kinoshita, spell out the words "orange," "green," "black," "red" and "yellow."

"Now we have to go back and color," Tung instructed her charges.

"It's a good teaching experience," Tung said later. Asked if she wants to teach one day, Tung replied, "I don't know. Maybe."

Fifth-grade teacher Kermit Welch agrees that the peer tutoring has helped bridge the gap between the older and younger students.

"There has always been a division between the younger and older ones, but through the tutoring they've been able to develop special relationship with each other," he said.

REDONDO REDUX: Officials of the Redondo Beach Unified School District say nearly a $1 million has been spent on school renovations.

Assistant Supt. Thomas Cox said the district set aside the money in April for capital improvements.

The work included asbestos removal from a tunnel at Parris School and new roofs on the auditorium and music building at Redondo Union High School. Other work at the high school included the installation of a new phone system and the replastering of the pool.

Cox said the old age of the buildings, some of which date to the turn of the century, prompted the renovations.

CROSS-COUNTRY: Three high school students from the South Bay will be among 70 students from the Los Angeles area and Oakland who will travel across the country on a 14-day bus tour.

Inglewood High School students Tamekia Clark, 14, Darlinda Laidley, 13, and Jessica Tarnay, 14, of Westchester High School will leave Oct. 27 on the tour, which will be sponsored by the Los Angeles and Bay Area Urban Leagues and AmericanTours International, a Los Angeles travel agency.

The Urban League chose students, some of whom were involved in the organization's literacy program, based on their grades.

The itinerary includes visits to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, the John F. Kennedy Museum in Dallas, the Empire State Building in New York, a tour of Cable News Network in Atlanta, and a reception at the White House.

Noel Irwin-Hentschel, chief executive officer of AmericanTours, said she wanted to help kids who otherwise wouldn't have a chance to see the country.

"I grew up in South-Central Los Angeles, and I know that the kids there have so much peer pressure, one way or another, and wind up turning to gangs or drugs," Irwin-Hentschel said. "We wanted to expose the kids to something greater."

While on the tour, the students will keep journals. Math, geography and history lessons will be taught by chaperons.

Tarnay said she's never traveled anywhere "except my grandmother's house near Sacramento."

"I've seen these places on television and read about them in books, and I can't believe I'm going to get to see them now," said Tarnay, who has been counting the days until the trip.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE: The city of Torrance has donated a building formerly used as a teen center to Friday Night Live, a junior and senior high school drug prevention program run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

An opening ceremony will be Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the McMaster Park center, which will be used by the group's 5,000-member South Bay and Harbor Regional Chapter.

Friday Night Live sponsors beach parties, field trips, discussions on topics such as AIDS and teen suicide, and other activities as an alternative to alcohol and drug use and gangs.

The group began using the center last month. The center has two soccer fields, a basketball court, Ping-Pong tables, a meeting room and a full kitchen. Monday night football parties are held from 6 to 9 p.m.

The center is at 3612 Artesia Blvd., and will be open from 3 to 9 p.m. on Monday, and 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Every other Friday the hours are 3 to 9 p.m. The center is closed on weekends.

Items for the weekly Class Notes column can be mailed to The Times South Bay office, 23133 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 200, Torrance 90505, or faxed to (310) 373-5753 to the attention of staff writer Carol Chastang.

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