DOWNEY - In an annual ritual meant to underscore its support of local education, both public and private, the Downey Federal Credit Union (DFCU) Thursday handed out 41 checks of $200 each to an assortment of Downey teachers and others within the educational fold to help enrich the lives of students under their care.This was the eighth year DFCU has given out the checks for student enrichment. This year's recipients, whose number actually increased over last year's, were selected out of a total of 110 grant applicants. Comprising this year's awardees were "regular and new teachers, non-teachers, support [staff]," as well as those affiliated with Character Counts, financial education, and Adopt-a-School programs. The eventual grantees won for the "clarity, uniqueness and creativity of their idea; number of students impacted; relevance to classroom focus and district standards; level of enhancement of student's learning experience and environment; and relevance to DFCU, personal finance, and financial education." Alameda Elementary's Kim Brooks said she would use the $200 to fix up their kindergarten playground and get a mural painted on the wall, while Gauldin's Karla Hufenbach is thinking of a Character Counts garden for the school grounds; Imperial's Tracy Yanez plans to buy a flip camcorder to monitor student progress with their social stories; Lewis' Charlene Shimada is using her incentive money to teach leadership skills to those holding student council government posts, while, operating under DFCU's Adopt-a-School program, Brad Mathews intends to use his for an informal garden club; Rio Hondo's Valerie Leonard is taking 20 disadvantaged fifth graders to Walden Books to buy their own book; Rio San Gabriel's Diana Vance will use her funds to support her garden club. There were four winning representatives from Ward. Adriana Perez is treating her class to a field trip to El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, while Charlotte Rippel will award T-shirts to her first grade students for reading 100 sight words; Jackie Graves (Adopt-a-School) will be in the market for monarch butterflies for her life cycle science project, while Leslie Neill (Financial Education) will be providing her students with T-shirts with multiplication tables on them. Williams' Lori Zaremski (Non-Teaching) plans to spend the money on play and art materials for use in socialization groups for special ed kids. There were winners from private schools, too, three from Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and one from Calvary Chapel Christian School. OLPH's Gina Pilloni intends to purchase books and study aids for the academic decathlon team competition; Molly Smith (New Teachers) plans to buy a document camera with visual projector for "upclose views of primary documents"; and Amanda Kravanger (Character Counts program) plans to provide birthday/Christmas gifts for adopted children at Children's International. Calvary Chapel Christian Schools John Voorhies is using the money to buy a class guitar to be kept in the classroom for use by forgetful students. The money received by TLC's (True Lasting Connection) Luz Perez (Support) will buy a new (replacement) fax machine heavily used, she says, for referrals for health care, counseling, and other critical needs services. Griffiths Middle School's Jessica Ortiz is taking her special ed class on a field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Sussman Middle School had four awardees. Leslie Chavez said she will hire an outside company, Mosaic Academy, "to help solve community problems"; Lorraine Neal intends to get a video camera to film an original screenplay for their 'Academy Awards Night'; Kelly McClurg will use her money to pay for buses for college field trips by seventh and eighth graders enrolled in the AVID program; and Jennifer Angulo (Character Counts) will use the funds to help the Impact Club volunteer at Samaritan's Purse (for Operation Christmas Child, etc.). West Middle School also had four representatives to the awards ceremony: Darla LaFortune-Webster is taking her special ed class on a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance; Marlene Camacho will purchase reading books for her 'literature circles'; Daniel Rojas is taking autistic kids in the community for socialization/community-based instruction; and Pat Bledsoe (Non-Teaching) will invest in Radio Flyer wagons for transporting handicapped students around the city. Also turning in winning entries were nine Downey High School students: Josette Bean and Teresa Hill are both taking their senior classes to hear Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel at Chapman University; Bryn Wade is taking her class on a field trip to Huntington Library to analyze art; Kevin Kendall's share will pay for class transportation in a tour of the Los Angeles Police Academy; Michelle Napoli will underwrite printing costs of high-end award-winning photojournalism magazine; Steven Guthrie will use his money to use as bus fare for field trips to the LAPD Academy; Leslie Patterson will purchase Therabands for physical education students; Melody King (Support) is setting aside her money for grief support group for students who lose someone; and Charlotte Mann's (Character Counts) funds will help prepare special ed kids learn appropriate behavior for their junior and senior proms. Warren High had four winners: Kyle Deichman plans to buy new scripts for the theatre arts program; Monique Willis (Non-Teaching) will use her funds for student training so they can help freshmen achieve better grades and attendance; Simon Moon (New Teachers) will buy tickets to the Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center; and Erin Hanohano (Financial Education) is earmarking the money to buy videos to make the subject of economics more interesting to students. Columbus High School's Susan Rodriguez and Scott Marshall are both getting APEX learning programs that allow students to recover class credits. DFCU operates out of 8237 Third St. in Downey and Downey Regional Medical Center on Brookshire Avenue.
********** Published: December 11, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 33