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Valley students pay tribute to Cesar Chavez

March 31, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Students in the fourth through sixth grades at Blanche Charles Elementary School here were treated to a special assembly honoring United Farm Worker founder Cesar Chavez on Friday.

AmeriCorps members volunteered their time to speak to students about the impact Chavez had on society.

AmeriCorps is a nonprofit community service organization that encourages volunteer activities in schools and communities.

Following the assembly, students were selected to participate in the initiation of the Dolphin Pride club, a service committee of Blanche Charles Elementary.

"It's important first that students know what he did for the Hispanic community," said AmeriCorps member Maria Dura, "especially living in this community where a lot of students have parents who mainly work in the agricultural business."

Dura was one of the AmeriCorps volunteers who spoke to students and helped the kids beautify their school by picking up trash.

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"I hope someday these kids do things for their community, too," said Liliana Siordia, an AmeriCorps worker.

Siordia described Chavez as a "common man with an uncommon ambition."

"It's important for these kids to believe that one person can make a difference," Siordia added.

Roger Rascon, 12, a sixth-grader and student body president, participated in the Dolphin Pride cleanup club.

"It's something exciting to help your school look better," Roger said, adding he hopes students get involved in the club.

Roger hopes to be like Chavez when he grows up.

"I want to help farm workers, too," Roger said, "Even though he struggled as a child, when he was bigger, he accomplished what he wanted."

Eddie Hernandez, assistant principal, said the Dolphin Pride club will continue throughout the year.

"We hope the students go home with a sense of pride for the community and for themselves," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said many teachers have been doing Chavez-related activities since January.

Daniel Arias, 10, a fifth-grader, said his class has learned a lot about Chavez.

"We watched movies, wrote poems, and wrote a letter to President Bush asking that Cesar Chavez day be a national holiday," Daniel said. "It's not fair that Martin Luther King has a national holiday but Cesar Chavez doesn't."

Schools throughout the Valley participated in the Cesar Chavez learning day.

Second-grade students at Oakley Elementary had an assembly Friday and planted a tree in honor of Chavez.

San Diego State University- Imperial Valley campus, students participated in the learning day as well. Many students gave presentations about Chavez in elementary schools throughout the Valley.

"What's most important for kids to know is that he sacrificed his time to help others succeed," said AmeriCorps worker Eliud Ruiz.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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