The students at Milken Community High School's Middle School threw a massive book fair for 250 kids from Sylvan Park Elementary School, whom they've been tutoring through the KOREH L.A. reading preparedness program. The seventh- and eighth-graders created carnival games, art projects, participatory performances and snacks, all related to books they had been reading with the kindergarten through second-graders for an hour every Friday this school year.
While the day was fun and meaningful for the visitors, it was even more meaningful for the middle schoolers. Rabbi Leah Kroll, rabbinic director of the middle school, and principal Sarah Shulkind, scheduled the day to fall on May 10, the day in 1933 when the German Students Association attacked "Jewish intellectualism" and burned more than 25,000 books, not only those by Jewish authors, but any that inspired free thinking.
"A lot of the books they burned were books we read in school and books on our summer reading list -- 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Catcher in the Rye,' 'Of Mice and Men' -- so it really impacted all of us," said Rachel Duboff, a Milken eighth-grader. "We learned how the students, even kids our age, burned some of the books, and that compelled us to want to read more."
Before the younger kids arrived, the middle-schoolers met for a commemorative assembly, where they saw a video with archival footage from 1933. The students chanted a portion from a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust, and the school band and choir performed. They heard from author Sonia Levitin, a child survivor who recently wrote a children's book about the crisis in Sudan, as well as from Kerry Madden, who is writing a teen-aimed biography of Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
"It was great to hear the authors talk about reading on a day when reading was supposed to be banned," said eighth-grader Ariel Stern.
After the assembly, the middle schoolers welcomed their visitors to 16 stations they had prepared, all relating to books the Milken and Sylvan students had been reading together all year.
With the band playing, the students played red-light-green-light, based on "Make Way for Ducklings"; they made leaf rubbings and laurels for "The Giving Tree"; they reenacted "Stone Soup"; and they made butterfly headbands, did a play and played butterfly tag for "La Mariposa." They skipped through an obstacle course to drive home the message of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" and all of the kids got their faces painted.
The middle schoolers were touched by how thrilled and grateful the Sylvan Park kids were for the attention showered on them.
"It was so nice to see how our school could turn a day that was once a sad day when Nazis burned books into a day when all these kids could have so much fun celebrating books that we were reading to them," said Max Offsay, an eighth-grader.
And the middle schoolers took home other lessons as well.
"It doesn't take so much work to make a difference and to help these little kids," said eighth-grader Shaida Haikali. "You might think that kids our age can't do so much, but this showed that we could, and we can do even more."
Newspaper Honors For Shalhevet
Shalhevet high school's Boiling Point won two awards in the national Quill & Scroll competition for high school newspapers. In the news category, junior Louis Keene picked up an award for his story on rabbinic and communal response to teen alcohol abuse, which also ran on The Jewish Journal's Tribe page in March 2007. Seniors Alex Melamed, editor of the Boiling Point, and Ortal Shlomo won in the in-depth team coverage category for their reporting on Shalhevet students in Israel during last summer's Lebanon war. The Boiling Point publishes eight issues a year, with stories on school, local and world news, sports, fashion, Torah and features and opinions on a variety of topics.
For more information, visit http://www.shalhevet.org.
The Envelope Please
The Bureau of Jewish Education recognized 174 graduating middle and high school students from 99 religious and day schools for excellence in Jewish leadership, learning and values at a ceremony May 20. Awards were presented in the categories of Ahavat Torah (Love of Jewish Learning), Arakhim (Exemplification of Jewish Values) and Manhigut (Jewish Leader of Tomorrow). Nine students were chosen to speak during the awards ceremony: Lily Armstrong from Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School; Ezra Laemmle from Temple Isaiah Religious School; Yael Mellon from Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy; Michael Rosenzweig-Bock from Milken Community Middle School of Stephen Wise Temple; Mitzi Steiner from Shalhevet School; Jacob Bash from Temple Ami Shalom Religious School; Sara Frend from YULA High School; Gillian Schoenfeld from Temple Akiba Religious School; and Ari Platt from YULA High School.
For more information visit http://www.bjela.org.
Maybe They Are Rocket Scientists ...
Two Kadima Academy students and a Kadima alumna won honorable mention at the California State Science Fair in May, and Kadima and Pressman students also won awards at the L.A. County Science Fair a few weeks before. Kadima alumna Miriam Glicksberg, now a junior at El Camino Real High School, won honorable mention in the behaviorial and social sciences division at the state fair and third place in her division at the county fair for work that looked for distinct ability categories in math. Glicksberg, who also won a spot at a Hebrew University science program this summer, has placed at the county science fair every year since sixth grade and in the state fair since seventh grade, mostly for research having to do with music, singing and pitch.
Glicksberg served as a judge at Kadima's science fair this year, a formal event where professionals from different fields help judge. Kadima usually sends a delegation of students to the county fair and has arranged with organizers to make provisions when the fair landed on Passover.
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