Reading fuels positive change
This week's column will be a little different than my previous ones because it is about a very special club at Yuba City High School. The Youth Literacy Club was started just this year by a very devoted English teacher. I had the privilege of experiencing first hand some of the great work the club's member have done and are currently doing.
The main focus of the Youth Literacy Club is to participate in the annual Read Across America event, or RAA, at local elementary schools. RAA is sponsored nationally by the National Education Association.
For years, Amelia Davies, faculty adviser of the Youth Literacy Club, was the only representative from Yuba City Unified School District participating in RAA. She would dress as Dr. Seuss' character the Cat in the Hat and visit as many local elementary school classrooms as she could to share her love of reading with the students.
"It would break my heart," Davies explained when asked what inspired her to start the literacy club. "I would see children in the windows of classrooms, but I just never had the time to go to every class."
So she decided to begin searching for more potential Cats in the Hat — as well as Dr. Seuss' other familiar characters Thing 1 and Thing 2 — at YCHS.
Before I joined the literacy club, its original members were chosen by Davies. "All I was looking for was a willingness to help. There were no requirements in GPA, experience or public speaking skills," she said.
By her reasoning, if the student had the will, the rest would come naturally. By chance, I stumbled into a club meeting two weeks before the RAA event on March 2; after hearing their plans, I asked if I could help.
Being among this group of students was amazing as their natural talents gradually appeared. I realized that these students personified creativity, passion and enthusiasm. After a hurried training in reading "Green Eggs and Ham" and "Fox in Socks," we donned our costumes: candy cane-colored top hats for the Cats; heavily teased blue hair for the Things; and tails, ears and socks for the Foxes.
More than 20 of us split into teams and visited every elementary school in YCUSD. I was assigned to Butte Vista school as the Cat along with Thing 1 and Thing 2, Paulina Rodarte and Jasmine Maraya.
At the end of the day, nobody could stop smiling. The whole project came together so beautifully and effectively. We visited every class on our agenda, and also other classrooms per teacher request. We could feel the appreciation from both teachers and students as they called out to us and literally pulled our "tails" on our way out.
"High schoolers often get stereotyped as lazy, self-centered and rude," Davies said. "I have found it to be different. I hope that this club will go on to allow young people to continue to prove those wrong who doubt them."
Some may think that this club only benefits the grade school students, but in reality, the high school students profit just as much. But the most worth lies in adviser Amelia Davies, without whom this would not have happened, and through whom endless inspiration for a positive change can be found.
Greg Geraldo is a senior at Yuba City High School. His column appears every six weeks in Education.