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June 23, 1997

Young authors honored at University House reception

By Jennifer McNulty

[Spanish-language cover of Aromas book] It was a bittersweet moment for Aromas School teacher Katy Stonebloom last Thursday as more than 30 of her students were honored by Chancellor Greenwood and other UCSC officials for their work on a bilingual book called Kids Around the University (photos).

The culmination of two years of work, the book was researched and written by the third and fourth graders and is being published this summer by UCSC. It will be distributed this fall to all fourth graders in the Monterey Bay region.

"The project has been successful beyond our wildest expectations," said Stonebloom, who oversaw the project with teaching colleague Linda McCue. "Now we'll have to come up with something new."

[English-language cover of Aromas book] Watching the children work hard and dedicate many afternoons and weekends to the project was rewarding and inspiring, said Stonebloom, noting that the endeavor not only improved reading and writing skills but taught the children how to organize and work collaboratively.

"A lot of our bilingual curriculum is structured around publishing because it gives the kids a reason for acquiring the skills we want them to learn," she said, adding that students in the program are performing considerably better on writing assessments than those who are not involved.

For UCSC, the 32-page book--which is colorful and packed with engaging photographs--represents a powerful outreach tool that will expose grade school children to the academic and social value of attending college--and it will give them hands-on information about how to prepare for college. Because the book is written in English and Spanish, it will help admissions officials bridge a cultural gap, too.

Satisfaction with a job well done was apparent during the bilingual reception for the young authors, which was held at University House.

"What we learned is that if you want to talk to fourth graders about college, you cannot, because there's no such publication," Greenwood said during opening remarks. "Now, other students won't have that problem. When they want to know something about UCSC, there will be this book."

Carrol Moran, coordinator of the Monterey Bay Educational Consortium and an early champion of the book project, said the book will be an "incredible tool for thousands of children in the region" and has the "very real" potential to make a difference in the lives of children.

A team of 12 student editors took turns telling the gathering of about 100 guests what their goals had been and who had helped them along the way. Another highlight was the presentation to each student of an honorary certificate of admission to UCSC from Greenwood; Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor for student affairs; and Michael Thompson, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management and admissions.

"Writing the book helped us because it helped us to write better," said editorial team member David Palacios. "We are authors now."

Stonebloom honored the children, saying that they had achieved the goal of being a "positive influence in the lives of your peers. . . . We're proud of you. Both Linda (McCue) and I hope to be invited to each of your college graduations."

McCue noted that although the young authors have reading levels that range from first to tenth grade, "all your voices came through with equal power because you work so well together and support each other."

Stonebloom and McCue received two standing ovations during the ceremony. Afterwards, young author Sarah Newman said she hadn't known much about college before she started working on the book but now hopes to attend UCSC. "I think it's a really neat place," she said. "I like this college because I started to make friends with Chancellor Greenwood, and I like all the choices you can make in learning at UCSC."

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