ALAMEDA -- Eighth-grader Isabel Luna knows how to stand by her word.

Last year, when she ran for president of St. Philip Neri Catholic School's student leadership council, she proposed a tutoring program for students that would be run and staffed by students.

"I wanted the idea to really come true and not make an empty promise," said Luna, who was elected to head the student group in the late spring.

This fall, the Bay Farm resident completed a detailed proposal as requested by school Principal Jessica Murray and science teacher Bill Frank. And by Nov. 1, the tutoring program was up and running.

"I gave Isabel a task list, and she came up with the proposal, a flyer and schedule," Murray said. "She's very thorough. She did the training with the tutors and handled the sign-up sheets. This was thoughtfully done and not just thrown together."

The free tutoring program had about a dozen participants initially, but now at least 25 students are signed up. (The sessions take place on Monday and Tuesday after school and are open to those in kindergarten through eighth grade.)

"We need more tutors," Luna said, "even though we have about 13 now. It's a very effective and fun way for the kids to learn."

Tutor Maddie Bonner-Bianchi, also in the eighth grade, said she enjoys the experience of working with other students.


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"I like helping them, especially the younger kids," she said. "I am able to see them do better."

"A fourth-grader, Frank Paterson, told me he really looks forward to it. 'I want to do it every week,' he said, because he enjoys his tutor, seventh-grader Kevin Sullivan," explained Murray.

Luna admitted that work as a tutor is not all fun and games.

"It's hard to get the students to focus all the time," she said. "But once you see their improvement in class, it's impressive."

The tutoring work is also satisfying, Luna added, and she hopes it will continue.

"It's great to know what I started is developing, so hopefully the tutoring program can fly and succeed in the future, too."

St. Philip Neri, at 1335 High St. in Alameda, will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.