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Youngsters to Pen Letters to College Pals

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In this electronic age, there is something special about plucking a hand-written envelope from a stack of mail, the sender’s neat script as familiar as the faint fragrance that lingers on the stationery tucked inside.

At 10 Glendale and Los Angeles unified district elementary schools, participants in the AmeriCorps Tell Me a Story program are about to experience the fun of old-fashioned letter-writing in the new Pen Pals program, which will pair about 50 youngsters with Glendale Community College students and staff members.

With the help of their Tell Me a Story tutors, the kindergarten through third-grade participants will write letters to and read letters from their pen pals once a month. The scribes will talk about their favorite books and other school-related topics.

The year-old Tell Me a Story program seeks to help young people achieve grade-level reading and writing proficiency by providing in-school, one-on-one tutoring sessions twice weekly with volunteers from Glendale Community College.

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The program recently graduated its first 32 members, who donated a combined 40,000 hours of tutoring last year.

“The purpose of the Pen Pal program is to make reading and writing fun for these kids,” said Sally Holmes, Tell Me a Story’s program assistant. “We’re hoping it will expose children to writing and provide positive role models through contact with the adults in the program.”

PROGRAM NOTES

Radio Days: Picture children’s entertainment that involves no screen, keyboard or satellite dish; just a pair of ears and a keen imagination. Students at Calabash Street Elementary School will get to experience just that Friday when Vocalworks--a vintage radio performance group--will bring music of the ‘30s and ‘40s to the more than 300 children and staff members at the Woodland Hills school.

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Costumed actors will present authentic news, sound effects, commercials and comedy sketches from radio’s heyday.

Vocalworks’ “Radio Hour” is presented by the Music Center Education Division’s Music Center on Tour program, which provides hands-on workshops to Southern California schools.

Beach Cleanup: Rather than hauling towels, sunscreen, radios and paddle boards to Santa Monica Beach, students from The Mirman School in Bel-Air brought garbage bags and a strong community service spirit to the recent annual National Beach Clean-up Day. The 10 elementary school students joined their science teacher, Amy Keeler, for a day of trash collection along a strip of beach notorious for its piles of Styrofoam cups, papers and cigarette butts.

In addition to collecting about 200 pounds of garbage, the students raised funds for the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium in Manhattan Beach, which offers marine science programs for kindergarten- through 12th-graders.

“The kids learned firsthand that what is dropped on the street ends up on the beach,” Keeler said.

KUDOS

Top Scholars: Two students at Lancaster’s Paraclete High School have been recognized as finalists in the National Hispanic Recognition Program, which honors Latino students who perform especially well on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. Christina Chacon, 17, of Lancaster and Daniel Dominguez, 17, of Palmdale are among the 3,000 high-scoring Latino students whose names are released to colleges and corporations for scholarship consideration.

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Class Notes appears every Wednesday. Send news about schools to the Valley Edition, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or fax it to (818) 772-3338. Or e-mail them to diane.wedner@latimes.com.


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