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Pinecrest Private School students, teachers win award for excellence

Posted: April 20, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Pinecrest Student Council representatives from fourth through eighth grades pose with their directors, Cam Woernley, Principal Iliana Faraldo, left, and Daniel Waybright, right, and their award from National Independent Private Schools Association.

Students at the Pinecrest Private School in Canyon Country are beaming with pride after receiving the prestigious National Student Council Award for the 2008-2009 school year.

The school was awarded the Certificate of Excellence on behalf of the innovations and efforts of its Student Council, made up of fourth- through eighth-grade students.

"It is an honor to be rewarded this way," said student council President Sandra Mercado, 14. "It feels good to make a difference and show others that they can make one, too."

Sandra and her fellow student council members at Pinecrest were chosen out of student councils from schools across the nation and captured the highest recognition for their outstanding community service.

The students work together with nonprofit organizations and other programs in the community to serve needy causes.

"It is important to partake in different helpful programs," said seventh-grade student council representative Megan Bersamira, 12.
"Big or small, we believe that we can help with anything and it will count."

Pinecrest teachers Daniel Waybright and Cam Woernley are involved in guiding the council in multiple projects throughout the year, and their efforts ensure a strong support system for the students.

"Our goal is to connect our students to their community and the world around them," said Woernley, a fourth-grade teacher. "We want to instill a strong sense of awareness in the students, so they know what needs to change and feel that they can change it."

Woernley and Waybright helped the students come up with ideas for the past year's new and noticeable outreach projects.

During the winter months, the council held a coat drive, encouraging a school-wide effort to collect coats and donate them to the Hunger Defense Fund in Canyon Country.

From October to November 2008, more than 120 coats were donated by the school to the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter.

"Student were running up to me for weeks yelling, ‘Look what I got!' when they had another coat for donation," said science teacher Waybright, who has been active with the council since last year. "It was really inspiring to see them so excited to help other people."

Among many beneficial projects made up by the council this year was the school's "Think Pink Day" to raise student's awareness about breast cancer.

The student council handed out breast-cancer awareness pink T-shirts they had printed for the special day and organized a bake sale to raise money for research.

"This event was special because it was something the whole school could get involved with," said council Vice President Jacqueline Parkinson, 14.

The students brought their own money to school and bought cookies, brownies and other baked goods.

"Everyone learned a lot and felt like they made a difference that day. That is why it's my favorite project so far," Jacqueline said of Think Pink.

Upcoming council projects include helping the Children's Hunger Defense Fund on May 21.

Students will donate an entire day to helping the fund sort through boxes of food, clothing and toiletries to send to poverty-stricken children all over the world.

"It is important for us to remember how fortunate we are and remember that other kids don't have all that we do," said council Secretary Emily Vosen, 12.

The school will make its largest attempt to encourage student awareness on May 30 to May 31 when the entire school is invited to participate in Relay For Life.

Families of students and administration at the school, located on Lost Canyon Road, will join in the 24-hour event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money to help the American Cancer Society.

Students will each be sent home with a sign-up sheet to encourage parents, friends and neighbors to join the event to raise awareness.

School Principal Iliana Faraldo has an idea about what makes the student council a special one.

"This school has built up a system of teamwork that will contribute to strengthening each student's development," Faraldo said. "By continuing to work on important projects together, greater connections will be made for the students, their community and others around the world."

Faraldo and the school want to encourage others in the community to get involved in community outreach, letting people know that they don't have to be a part of a council to help.

"There are so many different ways to contribute to needs around the world," Faraldo said. "And you don't know what you are capable of until you try."


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