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Newhall Elementary gives back

Education: An After School Enrichment and Safety program film class does its part for Haiti

Posted: March 8, 2010 10:44 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.

A Free Rice bulletin board made by students hangs at Newhall Elementary School. Students in the ASES program donated 170,000 grains of rice to Haiti in a relief effort as part of an outreach project.

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Nearly 170,000 grains of rice, a pair of shoes for a child in need, dog bones and treats for shelter dogs and money for relief efforts in Haiti.

That’s what the students in the After School Enrichment and Safety (ASES) program at Newhall Elementary School have collected since September when Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival co-founder Jennifer Fischer and film teacher Maria Garcia initiated an innovative film arts enrichment class.

The class was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

The class, which has about 15 students, learned about hunger, poverty, education, animals, natural disasters and Haiti.

The children also created film projects and other art projects that spread what they learned as a way to engage their peers in the lessons they’ve learned.

Students in the film class learned about world hunger through the Free Rice campaign,, and discovered that through the Internet, they could practice their multiplication facts, reinforce their grammar skills and demonstrate their Spanish language ability, while also giving grains of rice to those in need.

For every correct answer given, 10 grains of rice are donated.

Through the film class’s own efforts and by telling others about the site, students in the after-school program have, so far, been responsible for nearly 170,000 grains of rice being donated to those in need, and students are still using the site to help others.

Students also made a short film about free rice, which was shown at this year’s SCV Film Festival.

“Free Rice is a great program that really got the kids involved and had an added benefit of reinforcing their academic work,” Fischer said. “I would love to see the entire Newhall Elementary School District get involved with Free Rice and compete to see which school could donate the most rice.”

Other projects included learning about the needs and realities of animals living in shelters and encouraging their fellow classmates to donate dog bones and dog treats for a local animal shelter. Students also learned about Toms Shoes,, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased.

Students, once again, engaged their peers and raised money to purchase a class pair of Toms Shoes, which is on display at Newhall Elementary School in the after-school program classroom.

They made two short films about helping animals and Toms Shoes, both of which were also shown at this year’s Film Festival held in early January.

“I am very proud that this past year I’ve done more to help others and myself than ever before,” Garcia said.

“We use the arts to communicate humanitarian issues to provoke change. Film can be used as a platform to get people to listen and want to take action. Our films have been very well-received by our community.”

Currently, the film class is working on a short film about Haiti and other enrichment classes at the Newhall After-School Program have gotten involved.

The entire Newhall Elementary School raises money for Haiti through a Change for Change program in which students are encouraged to donate their spare change to help those in need in Haiti.

To learn more about these film projects, donate your spare change or get involved in other ways, please e-mail Jennifer Fischer at


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