Students Tell Story of Literacy


What could be better than enjoying a good book and a cup of Joe? Sharing the experience with others, according to 30 Glendale Community College AmeriCorps students participating in Tell Me a Story, a popular literacy program.

Once a month, eight to 10 students arrive at a local coffeehouse to read aloud to a group of children whose mothers are clients of the Glendale YWCA Domestic Violence program. The children get to act out stories, play theater games and create props, while their parents learn to promote positive reading experiences at home.

Starbucks has kicked in grant money to cover the students’ AmeriCorps stipends--which they use toward tuition--and funds to help the YWCA pay for books and other supplies for the program. The coffeehouse also gives the children free hot chocolate.


“The blending of these entities is a unique combination of education, social services and the corporate sector helping families in our community,” said Courtney Spikes, Tell Me a Story’s program director. “They’ve come together to improve the students’ reading skills and let them experience a fun and normal childhood activity.”

AmeriCorps’ 2-year-old Tell Me a Story program also places Glendale College students in elementary schools, where they use drama and storytelling techniques to help young people achieve grade-level reading and writing proficiency. The volunteers, who last year donated 40,000 hours of instruction, provide one-on-one, in-school sessions.


Book Lovers: Students at the Mirman School learned recently that it is indeed better to give than to receive. The Bel-Air students donated more than 2,000 books to Brockton Avenue Elementary School’s kindergarten through fifth-grade classes. The Los Angeles students were allowed to select up to five books to take home to their personal libraries.

Flying High: A local flying club has donated $500 to James Monroe High School’s Aviation Academy, a program for students interested in aviation careers. The contribution, from Airventurers of Southern California, will be used to purchase flight-simulator software for the school’s computer system.


Bilingual Award:Reseda High School’s Ludivina Vasquez recently took home the top prize in the ninth- through 12th-grade division of a statewide writing contest sponsored by the California Assn. for Bilingual Education. The ninth-grader’s winning essay, which touched on the personal rewards of knowing two languages, was selected from among 400 entries in her division.

Ludivina and the other winners were recognized at a special ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center last month, where the young writer received a $1,000 scholarship from the association.

Geography Bee: Students and teachers at George K. Porter Gifted Magnet in Granada Hills are abuzz after Adam Reilly recently won the first round of the National Geographic Society’s National Geography Bee. The eighth-grader, one of thousands of students competing nationally in the annual event, will advance to the state-level competition to be held April 9 in Sacramento.

Each state champion will travel to Washington, D.C., at the end of May to participate in the final round of the competition. The winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship.