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Value of Reading: No Tall Tale

Community leaders share wisdom with Tesoro Del Valle students as part of 'Read Across America.'

Posted: February 28, 2008 8:12 p.m.
Updated: April 30, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Miss Santa Clarita Valley Brianna McGowan (left) and Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley Patty Brauneisen read a tale to students during the "Read Across America" program held at Tesoro Del Valle Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

The kids sat in rapt attention, hanging onto every word. Throughout the week, the students at Tesoro del Valle Elementary School gathered in groups of 100 onstage by grade level to listen to stories of bravery, courage and doing the right thing. The readers - each one a prominent member of the community - chose books appropriate to age level to teach lessons of courage, bravery and doing the right thing as part of the big "Read Across America" this week in elementary schools throughout the country.

On Monday, Mayor Bob Kellar read from "Brother Eagle, Sister Sky" by Susan Jeffers and Chief Seattle to third-graders. The book talks about respect for all people and especially for Native Americans.

On Wednesday, City Councilwoman Marsha McLean read "Minnie's Diner" to a group of second graders. Other prominent community members in the SCV who read stories during the week were Dr. Judy Fish, superintendent of the Saugus Unified School District; Firefighter Suey Tiengerd; Sgt. John Bomben of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, John H. Hicks, author and a 22-year member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department; Jay Stalings, Founder of the California Youth Chess League; Sixth Degree Black Belt and owner of Anti-Gravity, Master Charles Young Shin; John Dow, producer of the Santa Clarita Symphony; and Mike Josten, owner of the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts.

Stalings, who has coached the Tesoro Del Valle chess team for years, read "The Ransom of Red Chief" in costume to a group of 5th graders.

On Wednesday morning, Mrs. Santa Clarita Patty Brauneisen and Miss SCV Brianna McGowan read "Sneetches" by Dr. Suess to a group of fourth-graders.

"After reading the first page, I asked them what they thought the book meant," Brauneisen said. "They said 'discrimination;' they really understood the meaning.'"

Even though her three boys attend Tesoro del Valle and she is a dedicated volunteer mom, Brauneisen said many of the students did not know she was Mrs. SCV. As a result, after reading the story, the kids even asked Braunisen and McGowan great questions about what is was like to be in a beauty pageant.

Cynthia Brown, the organizer of "Read Across America" event at Tesoro and a PTA mom, said for the first time at Tesoro, she brought in outside readers. She said Kellar was most enthusiastic about participating in this event because he feels strongly about the education of youth.

Master Shin read the first part of "The Black Belt Club" and said his main focus is building self-esteem and helping to improve health and fitness in today's youth. "People who feel good about themselves make the right choices," he said. "The real goal of the program is to inspire kids to read and explore new subjects." Master Shin said he has participated in the "Read Across America" program for three years throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, including North Park and Helmers Elementary Schools.

"This is a great idea, I hope all schools in the area participate, I want to encourage kids to read more often," Master Shin said. "Knowledge is power."

"I think it was a good program to help the community," said fourth-grader Beau Zacharias. "Sneetches" was a good book about discrimination and how important is was for people to get together."

Isabella Anaya, a fourth grader in Mrs. Kohli's class, agreed that the choice of a Dr. Suess book was a good one, because of the clever way the message was presented by people were not their teachers or parents.

"I think it was great that these people took the time to come and read to us," she said.

Isabel Granados in Mrs. White's Room 25 also had very high marks for the "Read Across America" program at her school.

"I like it because it teaches us a lesson to be nice to other people," she said. "It is something you should learn in class but it is nice to learn it here."


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