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A Marathon Experience

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Three fifth-graders from George Washington Elementary in Burbank are still nursing blisters, tired legs and sore knees after walking the 26.2-mile Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, despite the worst weather in the event’s 15-year history.

“The rain was torture,” said Daniel Dyer, 10, who completed the course in six hours and 50 minutes. “But I just thought about finishing. I set a goal and I made the most out of it.”

Daniel said he wore three trash bags and a poncho to fight off the pelting rain, but it was a pair of borrowed pink gloves that helped him the most.

“They were good luck charms,” he said. “As soon as I put them on, the rain stopped.”

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This was the 10th consecutive year students from George Washington have walked in the marathon. Besides Daniel, Heather Harris and LeChee Singleton represented the elementary school. They were among 10 students who in September began marathon training, including predawn Saturday walks in Griffith Park.

“The kids were prepared for this,” said coach Deborah Gal, “but they were thrilled when they were finished.”

Daniel--who walked the race last year about 10 minutes faster--was treated afterward by his family to pizza. The school’s other walkers--who included two coaches, an administrator and a parent--sought comfort at home, in a steaming hot bathtub, Gal said.

KUDOS

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FBI Bound?: Chris Arifin, a 17-year-old junior from Reseda Science Magnet, last month attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence and Diplomacy.

About 350 juniors and seniors from across the country spent five days in Washington, D.C., touring the Pentagon, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., and other strategic military headquarters.

“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I get older,” Chris said, adding that working in national security might be an option because “you get to explore the world.”

Chris’ selection for the program was based on his strong academic achievement. He has a 4.5 grade point average.

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PROGRAM NOTES

Jet Setters: Palm Springs? Cancun? Baja? Nah. Students from Viewpoint School in Calabasas will travel during spring break to educational destinations in the United States and abroad.

Twenty-two students will tour Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich and meet German politicians and American diplomats. Another two dozen will board with French families and tour historical and cultural sites in France, including Paris, Chartres and Normandy.

Two other groups will tour locations in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as an eight-day tour of 13 Eastern colleges.

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Seeing Clearly: Free eye exams and glasses are available for Los Angeles Unified School District children through Vision Service Plan’s Sight for Students program.

“We know what a difference good vision can make,” said Roger Valine. “We want to help make a difference in education.”

Vision Service Plan will commit 40% of its annual profit this year to try to reach 50,000 students nationwide, Valine said.

School nurses throughout the district will provide vouchers to students who need comprehensive exams. A total of 10,000 vouchers were provided to the school district, said Sally Coughlin, assistant superintendent of student services.

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“We hope that we can give out every single one of those,” Coughlin said.

About one in every four middle school students in the district was identified last year as needing glasses and about half of all children in the district do not have health insurance, she said.

Signs of vision problems include squinting, excessive eye rubbing and difficulty completing homework in a timely manner.

Low-income families should consult with school nurses for more information.

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For Art’s Sake: San Fernando Valley high school students can enter their creative work in an arts festival sponsored by the San Fernando Valley High School Advisory Commission in conjunction with Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks).

Winning entries in black and white media, color media and three-dimensional or sculpture will win a trip to Sacramento to see their artwork displayed in the state Capitol building.

For more information, call Eddie Shiomi at (818) 904-3840. Winners will be notified April 4.

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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.


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