More than 200 people attended the recent Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Antioch Middle School. The event went beyond admiration for King -- it was also a chance to honor top students with an African-American Honor Roll banquet.
"It was a huge success," said Dr. Lamont A. Francies, AMS counselor. "Parents, community members, extended family and staff from other schools packed the multipurpose room."
This is the second year AMS has paid homage to King, along with putting about 70 top achieving students in the spotlight.
The event included student speakers reciting King speeches, along with a musical slideshow tribute to the civil rights leader.
"Music played throughout the ceremony ... it is celebratory, inspirational and reaches three generations of the African-American community."
There was also line dancing, which included students, parents, community members and staff from AMS and other area schools. Dinner was served, providing "an opportunity for fellowship."
Francies said the community-building event helps develop "trust between the school and community, which is a missing component crucial to integrate parental involvement. It allows teachers to connect with families."
The counselor is proud that the celebration gives students a positive identity and connects them with their culture.
"These are students who are, many times, overlooked and ignored because they are not behavior problems. Events like this help redefine what is 'cool.' "
AMS now gears up for its Feb. 21 Black History Month program. Organized by the student body, all are welcome to attend. For more information, call 925-706-5430.
READ TO LEAD: Laurel Elementary held its second annual Family Reading Night. The Oakley school played host to about 100 people, who came to hear local "celebrities" read a variety of books to students.
"It was a great event," said librarian Laurie Seeno. "Karen Fray (PTA) did a wonderful job getting a variety of celebrities from the community to participate."
The readers were tennis player Monique Paris, Falcon quarterback Joey Sweeney, water polo's Megan Stephano and soccer star Kaylee Stoltenberg, all from Freedom High. In addition there was also chef Gillian Espinosa, vet Lexi Espinosa, nurse Maria Goyich, paramedic Dave Torres, Contra Costa sheriff's Lt. Jose Beltran, new Oakley police Chief Dan Gomez, and Laurel Principal Mimi Curran. Also on the roster was firefighter Kevin Erickson, who brought equipment to show to the students.
"I think (this is a) family-friendly activity for our students and parents. Children can move from reader to reader to listen to stories read by community heroes," Seeno said. "It reemphasizes the importance of reading no matter who you are."
Seeno especially likes that the event includes a book swap.
"We collect donated books throughout the year," she said. "Even if a child doesn't bring a book, he or she can still pick one to take home."
For more information, call 925-625-7090.
WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE?: Barnes & Noble is hosting its annual "My Favorite Teacher" contest.
Open to those in middle and high school, students are encouraged to tell why their teacher is the best. Teachers from grades 1-12 are eligible for nomination. The contest features local and regional winners, who have the chance to be Teacher of the Year.
According to the news release, nominations can be an essay, poem or thank you letter that shares how the student's teacher has influenced his or her life and why they appreciate and admire their teacher. Entries will be judged on the compelling nature of the teacher's qualities, the sincerity of the student's appreciation and the quality of expression and writing, according to the contest rules.
"(The contest) is just one more way ... to recognize how important teachers can be in their students' lives," said Shannon Skinner, B&N community relations manager.
Deadline is March 1. Area entries should be turned in to the Antioch Barnes & Noble, 5709 Lone Tree Way. The local winner -- and student who nominated the teacher -- will be recognized at an event at the Antioch store. Each regional winner receives a Nook and a $500 B&N gift card. The top winner and his or her school each receive $5,000.
Visit www.bn.com/myfavoriteteacher or call 925-978-1053.
READY FOR SCHOOL?: On Feb. 12, the Brentwood Union School District begins registration for its transitional kindergarten and kinder classes for the 2014-15 school year. Children entering kindergarten must be 5 years old by Sept. 1. If entering transitional kindergarten, the child must turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.
Contact your resident school site beginning Feb. 12 to schedule a registration appointment, which will be held March 4-6. For more information, visit www.brentwood.k12.ca.us.
If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Trine also does community outreach for Antioch High.