The State of California has new laws this year governing the promotion of students in all schools. It is now mandatory for children to be working at their grade level before they can be promoted to the next grade. All schools are required to identify the children who aren't working "at grade level" and provide special after-school classes for them to help them catch up. The area in which most children need help is Reading.
Orangethorpe School began its after-school program on November 15, giving students one hour of extra help on Mondays and another hour on Tuesdays. At Orangethorpe Learning Center, we believe it's important to supplement the schools' programs, so we began our own special reading classes on Wednesday, November 17, which will continue every Wednesday for as long as we believe them to be necessary.
Our special Wednesday classes, which are from 1:30 to 3:00 pm, are only for the children who the schools say are "at risk of retention". The children who attend the classes will be expected to work only on the subject matter which we assign them, which will include phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. It is very important for all children who are enrolled in Wednesday classes to arrive on time and attend regularly. We must ask that other students attending OLC on Wednesday not come until 2:45 pm or later and not interrupt or distract the students who are in the reading classes.
23 students attended our first special reading classes. We were impressed by how interested most of them are in learning to read better. One mother told us afterwards that her daughter had never been given phonics training (which emphasizes sounds of the letters and pronunciation rules) before at school and found our phonics drill to be helpful.
The adults who make up our Wednesday team include our Director, Norm Todd, and volunteers Carl and Darlene Borris, Chuck and Jeanette Carey, Mabel Lovgren, María Bertilia Solares and Bill Yee.
On November 4, we had a meeting which was attended by 17 parents of Learning Center students. Ann Rose, the Vice Principal of Orangethorpe School, accepted our invitation to attend and answer the parents' questions, especially concerning the new California retention laws.
This is just one more example of the cooperation which exists between Orangethorpe Learning Center and Orangethorpe School. Ann and her teachers have visited our center several times and have told many children and parents about OLC. It wouldn't have been possible to organize our new Wednesday classes without the information which Ann Rose provided us. Thank you, Ann!
As we said last month, "Orangethorpe Learning Center would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our friends who serve as volunteer tutors." This month we were blessed by the arrival of new volunteers from several different sources.
Members of our three sponsoring churches have been working with the children since OLC opened in 1995. At first, when we had about 20 children a day attending, there were enough of us. But attendance has increased beyond what our little group could handle. Now several other groups of volunteers are now working with us to help OLC's children...
The students' parents, led by Margareta Iancului and María Bertilia Solares, check the children in and out, prepare snacks, keep our library in good order, control the restroom key, help our littlest students with their homework, and in general keep things running smoothly, Verónica Gómez and Aydé Pacheco, are now maintaining the attendance charts which show which children are attending regularly.
The St. Jude Medical Center's "We Care" program sends us five to ten volunteers each day, including St. Jude employees and Sunny Hills High School students. Kathy Hight, Cristina Martínez and Regina Ziashari have been unusually helpful in organizing these volunteers' participation and also in working with the OLC children.
Rev. Ron Farmer, the Dean of Chapel at Chapman University, has brought several groups of very enthusiastic Chapman students recently.
Juan Loreto and other students from Buena Park High have given us a lot of help with the kindergarten and first grade students. Just last week, Amy Chan and four of her Sunny Hills friends showed up and offered to help.
We are grateful to everybody who has been helping out and hope that all of you will continue to play a regular role in the OLC story. We can't succeed without you!
Attendance at OLC Increases!
As we've already mentioned, the teachers at our local schools are recommending OLC's services to students and their parents. Nearly every day, new students arrive and want to enroll. During the month of November, our average attendance was more than fifty children per day. We hope we'll never have to turn away any child who comes to us for help.
It has become harder and harder for us to know each child by his or her name. We have two Biancas, a Carol and a Carole, a Deserae and a Desiree, two Irenes (both in kindergarten), two Dannys, two Jesses, one Betty and three Elizabeths, and two Luis Cerdas, both of them in the third grade! Many of our children have invited their little brothers and sisters and cousins to join them at OLC.
With so many new faces, not only among the children, but also among our volunteers, it is more important than ever that everybody wear a badge! Carl Borris designed good-looking and durable badges for all of us to wear. He produces a batch of badges every few days for our new students and volunteers. Put your badge on when you arrive and hang it up when you leave. If you don't have a badge yet, print your name on a label and stick it on your shirt or blouse.
Another New Computer at OLC!
Another new computer is at the service of OLC's children now. Our friend Craig Follett called us recently to offer us a powerful Pentium. Craig said the machine's hard drive was fried, but we said "no problem!" because we had a disk drive which another friend, Perry Couvillion, had donated which needed a home. We plugged Perry's disk drive into Craig's computer and the next day installed the new Pentium in place of a very tired 486. Now our little kids have a powerful modern computer for their "Math Blaster" programs.
Orangethorpe Avenue is very dangerous. If you walk to or from OLC, please cross only at the crosswalk by the signal at Gilbert Street.
Some advice to each OLC student...
Turn off your television and read a good book!
WE WISH YOU A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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