MLK students: Making a difference

February 16, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

If you'd happened to be driving past Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in El Centro at the end of the school day Thursday, you would have seen them — two young students wearing bright red baseball caps and vests with the words "Student Service Club" emblazoned on them.

They were there, in addition to the regular adult crossing guard, to assist fellow students cross busy Villa Avenue.

They are members of the 15- strong service club formed last October under the leadership of teachers Sue Evangelist and Inez Nelson.

Along with working as part of the school safety patrol, all the students involved take turns in cleaning the school's computers, manning the Accelerated Reader store and working on projects as part of the school technology team.

MLK Principal Sherry Kolset said Thursday the purpose behind the club, which is funded under the federal 21st Century grant program, is to get students involved with helping their school — and their community.


At the moment the students are primarily involved with school-based projects but Kolset said there are "big plans" for the future that will involve the larger community.

Students have to fill out a written application to become members of the club, which is open to fourth- and fifth-graders.

"We tell them it is just like the job application forms they will have to fill out when they are older," Evangelist said. "They have to tell us their reasons for wanting to become a club member and we also require they have two teachers sign off on their application. Lastly, we need their parents' approval."

Club members have to maintain passing grades, be up to date with homework requirements and not have any disciplinary problems.

As part of their technology team duties, club members were hard at work Thursday, working on advertising posters for upcoming school events. While some members sat at computers working on flyers for a Valentine's Day dance, others were diligently cutting, pasting and coloring large posters for the Reading Is Fundamental program.

Farther down the hallway, another group of club members was cleaning computers with an industriousness that might have surprised their parents.

Evangelist and Nelson agreed that not only the school benefited from the work the children did as club members, but the children themselves were gaining in confidence and self-respect.

"And they're learning, too. When they man the Accelerated Reader store, they have to tally the takings and balance the books … and when they're designing posters, they're developing their computer skills," Evangelist said.

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

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