$1K supports Battle of the Books; volunteer to help kids read; superintendent lunches with students; child abuse-prevention trainings; why we don't eat more seafood

$1K supports 'Battle of the Books'

The Rotary Club of Milwaukie recently contributed $1,000 to support Linwood Elementary School's "Battle of the Books" program, which encourages reading and comprehension by fourth- and fifth-graders.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Celebrating the $1,000 grant to Linwood Elementary are, from left, Joel Bergman with Milwaukie Rotary, fifth-grade teacher Bridget Miller and fourth-grade teacher Ana Eguren.Linwood hosts "in-school" competitions that display students' mastery of the approved reading materials. With the help of this grant, Linwood teachers hope to expand their program to include regional competitions, as well as replenish and update the books available to students participating.

In order to give Linwood the $1,000 grant, Milwaukie Rotary combined funds from its own foundation with a matching grant from the Rotary District 5100 Foundation. Vistors and guests are always welcome to attend club meetings at noon Tuesdays at the Odd Fellows Hall, 10282 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie.

Volunteer to help kids read

Herlene Benson, a volunteer mentor with AARP Foundation Experience Corps since 2009, says she is fortunate to observe students build their reading skills and confidence.

Every week for 10 hours, Benson mentors at least eight students, one-on-one, helping them develop their literacy skills at Lot Whitcomb Elementary School in unincorporated Milwaukie, 20 miles from her home.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lot Whitcomb Elementary School student Angel Gutierrez enjoys learning to read with Herlene Benson, a volunteer mentor.She said: "Recently a second-grader I work with asked me how old I am, which always occurs at some time during the year. When I said 75, he had such a surprised look on his little face and said, 'AND you're still alive?' Cute, huh?"

Benson said it is very important to her to be a part of this early educational program.

"I love my contact with these children, they make me laugh, and I work hard at encouraging them to have a positive outlook on learning," she said.

Benson learned about Metropolitan Family Service's Experience Corps after retiring from Oregon Health & Science University while volunteering in former Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office. Since retirement she and her husband traveled a lot and played more golf than she ever expected.

"With our children now being adults, I began to think, 'OK, now what?' I was feeling a need for a deeper purpose," she said.

She found that purpose through Experience Corps, a program made up of volunteers 50 and older who are dedicated to helping children become great readers by the third grade, a benchmark that research has shown will lead to better math and science skills long-term.

"I must tell you that working with children is extremely rewarding, and more so than chasing a little white ball on the golf course," Benson said.

Lou Weisberg, who works at Metropolitan Family Service, is kicking off a spring recruitment campaign for Experience Corps to coincide with National Volunteer Week from April 23-29.

MFS is a nonprofit in the Portland area dedicated to helping people move beyond the limitations of poverty, inequity and social isolation. Visit for more information.

Superintendent lunches with students

Gladstone Superintendent Bob Stewart makes a point to have lunch with a different group of Gladstone High School students once each month.

"I talk with six or seven students from a different grade level each month," Stewart said. "It's interesting how different their thinking is at each level."

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sophomore Avery Marshall tells Gladstone Superintendent Bob Stewart about the importance of having teens help with community service projects.This month, Stewart shared sandwiches with six sophomores, including some athletes, a few dedicated scholars and a budding filmmaker. Principal Kevin Taylor and Assistant Superintendent Jeremiah Patterson also joined in the conversation.

The sophomores agreed that in their close-knit school, the best teachers are those who connect and care about their lives beyond the classroom. They also appreciate the teachers who take extra time to help them work through schoolwork when they feel stressed.

They hope to take more advanced classes for college credit. On the flip side of the coin, students emphasized the importance of practical courses that teach life skills such as cooking, managing finances, auto mechanics and maintaining life balance.

"I talk with such a wide variety of kids, and I always learn a lot about ways we can make Gladstone schools better," Stewart said. "It's important to hear what students are really thinking."

Free child abuse-prevention trainings scheduled

In observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Northwest Family Services and the Children's Center will hold two free Stewards of Children trainings.

Communities across the country are making a special effort during the month of April to raise awareness about preventing child maltreatment and enhancing child well-being. Studies have revealed that about one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. During 2017, there will be about 400,000 babies born in the U.S. that will become victims of child sexual abuse.

"Despite these startling statistics, it is a silent epidemic that people are afraid to talk about," said Iliana Fontal, employment assistance manager at Northwest Family Services. "We must break through the stigma and shame and talk about how the sexual abuse of children happens. It is the only way we will be able to stop what is arguably the No. 1 health crisis that children face today."

Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children child abuse-prevention workshop has been nationally recognized for raising public awareness about child abuse, providing support for those who have suffered child abuse and ensuring the local community is equipped to prevent and report child abuse. The workshops include videos of survivor stories, expert advice and practical guidance generated through facilitated discussion of five simple steps adults can take to help keep children safe.

"The emphasis is on being proactive to help minimize opportunities for abuse to occur," Fontal said.

Child-care providers, social workers, educators, youth leaders, community workers and families are all invited to attend the workshops. Each attendee will receive a free Stewards of Children prevention workbook (in English or Spanish).

The trainings will be delivered in Spanish from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 28, and in English on Tuesday, May 16, at Northwest Family Services, 6200 S.E. King Road, Milwaukie. For more information about the trainings, call 503-546-6377.

Why don't we eat more seafood?

Oregonians love the wild beauty of our 363 miles of coastline, but finding truly local seafood can be hard, even on the coast. Why aren't Oregonians eating more local seafood, when preserving and distribution technologies are the most sophisticated they have ever been?

Explore these ideas at "Fish Tales: Traditions and Challenges of Seafood in Oregon," a free conversation with Jennifer Burns Bright from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at the Environmental Learner Center's Lakeside Hall at Clackamas Community College, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City.

Bright is a food and travel writer based in Port Orford. She recently retired from teaching at the University of Oregon, where she researched desire in 20th-century literature, led a faculty research group in the emerging discipline of food studies, and won a national pedagogy award for a team-taught, interdisciplinary class on bread. She holds a doctorate from the University of California at Irvine and a Master Food Preserver certification. Her writing has appeared in Gastronomica, Oregon Quarterly, NPR's "The Salt" blog, AAA's Via and Eugene magazine.

This event is sponsored by CCC's Cultural Arts Committee and Oregon Humanities.

Gladstone invites public to review new science curriculum

The Gladstone School District is recommending the purchase of new education materials for high school science classes. Parents, students, and other community members are invited to review and comment on the curriculum.

"Due to funding cuts, it's been well over a decade since we last had new science materials in schools," said Assistant Superintendent Jeremiah Patterson. "We invite the community to come and take a look at what we hope to have in our classrooms."

Materials will be on display in the School District Board Room, 17789 Webster Road, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through May 10.

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