Kids choose giving over getting

Kids choose giving over getting
Above: Kate Fackler, seated center, and guests at her birthday party on River Cleanup Day Below: Jennie Busey shows birthday girl Kate Fackler how to glue to the back of the storm drain placard

Mentoring literacy leads to blessings
St. Mark’s Episcopal School fifth graders Ben Magevney and Ben Wachholz share more than just first names. They have birthdays in February just two days apart. So this year, to celebrate turning 11, the boys held a birthday party together. But instead of opening presents for themselves, they asked their guests to bring a book for a kindergarten age child.
The boys have been participating in a service learning project of mentoring literacy and writing skills with kindergarten students at Ortega Elementary.

“This relationship with Ortega Elementary is a gift to all involved,” says Beville Anderson, St. Mark’s Director of Christian Education and Guidance. “It gives our students the opportunity to mentor younger children, and build relationships outside of our school community, and it is a blessing to the children at Ortega to have older children affirming them and spending one on one time with them.”

The goal is not only to encourage the reading skills of the kindergarteners, but also to improve the fifth grader’s writing skills. St. Mark’s students write journal entries after each visit and will use the journals to create a personalized story written and illustrated specifically for their Ortega partner.
At a visit in March, the boys carted 60 books down the street to present to their kindergarten partners. “Wow, what a thoughtful idea coming from a fifth grader,” said Stephanie Shepara, principal of Ortega Elementary. “Kind of ironic since our character trait of this month is charity!”
Because of the generosity of the boys and their party guests, all fifth graders were able to present a book to their kindergarten partner, and the children at Ortega were delighted to receive a book they could call their own and take home.
The boys held a basketball themed “BeNBA” party for their friends on St. Mark’s new basketball courts.

Cleanup trumps the cake

Above: Kate Fackler, seated center, and guests at her birthday party on River Cleanup Day Below: Jennie Busey shows birthday girl Kate Fackler how to glue to the back of the storm drain placard

St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School student Kate Fackler decided to celebrate her 12th birthday on Mar. 16 by inviting 14 classmates to participate in River Cleanup Day. After spending part of the morning cleaning up Stockton Park in Ortega, the sixth graders met up with Jennie Busey, education director of the St. Johns Riverkeeper, for a quick lesson on placard placement on local storm drains. “She really wanted to give back to the community,” said proud dad Mark Fackler. “They will ride their bikes around the area putting “rain water only” cards on storm drains.”

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