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Literacy Festival: Reporter for a Day

Posted: December 13, 2010 9:07 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Fidel Garcia, right, of Sequoia Charter School in Santa Clarita, shows students the art of rock balancing during the Litaracy and Arts Festival, which took place on Dec. 4. The festival aimed to spark a passion for reading among local youth. Fidel Garcia, right, of Sequoia Charter School in Santa Clarita, shows students the art of rock balancing during the Litaracy and Arts Festival, which took place on Dec. 4. The festival aimed to spark a passion for reading among local youth.
Fidel Garcia, right, of Sequoia Charter School in Santa Clarita, shows students the art of rock balancing during the Litaracy and Arts Festival, which took place on Dec. 4. The festival aimed to spark a passion for reading among local youth.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, the city and SCV Education Foundation hosted the annual Literacy & Arts Festival at Newhall Park. As part of the event, The Signal hosted the Reporter for a Day program where local kids took on assignments at the festival, interviewed authors and educators and wrote news stories about the festival. The following are the news stories written by The Signal’s Reporters for a Day at the festival. –Tammy Marashlian, Signal Assistant City Editor and Reporter for a Day coordinator.

Art teacher finds perfect balance at Literacy Festival

By Laird Mendelson
At the Dec. 4 Literacy & Arts Festival, heavy rocks were being stacked on top of one another—a feat that seemed to defy gravity.  However, according to Fidel Garcia, the art teacher from Sequoia Charter School, gravity was the only tool needed to accomplish this amazing balancing act.

Mr. Garcia was introduced to rock-balancing while vacationing with his son in San Francisco. There, they met Bill Dan, a professional rock-balancing artist, who was balancing beach rocks. They loved the art, and ten years later, they’re still balancing rocks.

Some of you are asking: “How does gravity, the force which pulls you and me down to the ground, keep rocks up and off the ground?”

Well, here’s the trick. For your base, find a rock that doesn’t move much. Pick up another rock and, holding it between your hands, let it swivel into a fixed position. The part of the rock facing the Earth is its relative “center of gravity.” Rest the rock on your base in the position in which it stopped, and then pull your hands 2 millimeters away from the rock, adjusting it as needed until perfectly balanced.

Now that’s how gravity keeps things up.

Literacy Festival encourages imagination and creativity

By Amanda Magalski

Couch potatoes unite!

If you’re the average American, you watch more than 28 hours of television a week, you spend more than 31 hours a week online, and you listen to 14 hours of music a week on your iPod. Basically, we get all the entertainment we want delivered to us without any real effort on our part at all. Isn’t it great to never have to use your brain or imagination?

Well, the Santa Clarita Literacy & Arts Festival challenges that notion.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, families flocked to the fourth annual Literacy & Arts Festival at Newhall Park. Attendance at the festival has grown to an estimated 3,000 people, who enjoyed the experience of imagination, creativity and­­­ — for once — no electronics!

This festival aims to spark the imaginations of kids and parents alike, getting ideas flowing in a fun and educational way.
Because of its low-key nature, it may not appeal to everyone, but those that did make it to the festival were rewarded with a fun atmosphere and plenty of hands-on activities.

Compared to your typical street fair or concert at the mall, this festival seemed to target those looking for the more quiet and thoughtful side of life. For most of the day, the loudest parts of the festival were the giggles that came from the families as they bonded over books and booths.

Ann Unger, the executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation, says that for many kids this event is an eye-opener.

“The goal of the festival is to let kids see things that they’ve never seen before and take home the creativity that they learn here at the festival,” she said. “It encourages and exposes families to different arts and lets them have fun with education.
The arts help the kids with the academics that they learn every day in school.”

One of the stars of the day was the Placerita Junior High School’s Drama Club, which performed several operas and musicals, such as “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” “Three Piggy Opera,” and “Once Upon an Opera.” In addition, singer and artist Jeff MacDougall sang for the crowd.

Families were introduced to new activities and businesses through the booths that were present at the festival, including the Castaic Lake Water Agency, College of the Canyons and Regal Entertainment Group.

Later in the day, an awards ceremony took place in which students from five school districts—Sulphur Springs, Saugus, Newhall, Castaic, and Hart—received honorary awards and prizes for their art and literature. The contest consisted of three categories: poetry, editorial and short story. From Castaic Elementary, Abhinav Behl won first place poetry for
Kindergarten through 3rd grade. From Oak Hills Elementary, Maya Marien won first place poetry for grades 4-6. From
Rancho Pico Junior High, Gisela Factora won first place poetry for grades 7-8. And last but not least, Salina Mahoney from Saugus High School, won first place poetry for grades 9-12. Everyone in the ceremony received bookmarks and certificates for their work. The festival was a great way to recognize students’ talents and have some fun with education.

The Santa Clarita Literacy & Arts Festival may not prompt kids to throw away their TV remotes or iPods, but it certainly sparks their imaginations and creativity in a way that electronics simply can’t.

Story Village opens new worlds for children

By Jamie Meyer

On Saturday, Dec. 4, children of all ages explored Newhall Park during the Literacy & Arts Festival, hosted by the SCV Education Foundation. Story Village was only one of the many attractions offered in the festival, which consisted of several booths for different genres of books including: sci-fi fantasy, adventure, humor and poetry, and all-time favorites.

Janet Squires, head of the Story Village, was asked how the idea came to be. She replied, “We can read children different types of stories in a variety of situations. It sounded like a fun area to be in.”

When Councilman Bob Kellar, who was one of the story readers, was asked why he believes reading is important, he responded, “Reading gives you the tools to be successful in life.”

As Braddon Mendelson, author of “Have You Seen the Tickle Bug?” concluded his storybook reading, 6-year-old Donovan explained that he loved the story, had so much fun, and couldn’t wait to come back next year.

While parents and children walked around with smiles of content glowing on their faces, it seemed as if one idea filled the air: Story Village was a success!


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