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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

From Elkhorn to Uganda, books going abroad

By Mike Heine/The Week

Soon, children some 7,000 miles away from Elkhorn Area Middle School will have new books to read and new lessons to learn.


Terry Mayer/The Week
Students also created their own books. L-R: Ashley Crown and the book she wrote 'Body Fats can be Fun to Lose.' Ashlea Franjevic wrote poetry, Charlee Green with 'Counting Numbers' and Sergio Valadez wrote 'Alphabet with Animals.'
As a class project, the eighth grade English students made books for children at the St. Peter's Bwobo Manam Primary School in the Amuru District of Uganda.

It was the second year teacher Katie Furrer oversaw the task of helping African children in need.

"I try to do something each year where the kids do something to help other people," she said. "I wanted to get them involved somehow. Last year, I stumbled upon this whole project."

Eighth grader Ashlea Franjevic took the project a step further by coordinating a book drive at her school.

"Originally, I wanted to like get clothes and food and a whole bunch of things," Franjevic said. "But we had to dwindle it down to a book drive.

"Everybody there needs a lot of stuff. I don't know. I just really wanted to help out. I think it's really sad what's going on over there."

Almost instantly, donated books poured in by the dozens.

Elkhorn students wrote books on a range of topics for Ugandan children ages 6 to 14. The school provided a list of suggestions.

"We got to pick our topics. My topic was 'Body Fats Can Be Fun to Lose.' It's about exercise," said eighth grader Ashley Crown.

Franjevic chose poetry, and included some of her own prose as examples.

"I picked counting numbers," classmate Charlee Green said. "What I put in my book is some are even, some are odd."

She also wrote it with a character who loves to count.

"I worked on the alphabet with animals," eighth grader Sergio Valadez said. "It's just about animals that start with letters of the alphabet."

Furrer showed the class a documentary video on the war-torn country, which showed the hardships people there live with daily.

"When I watched that video, I wanted to cry," Franjevic said. "It was so sad to see what's going on there."

The students are proud to know their books, whether they be made or donated, are going for a good cause.

"There's more going on out there than a lot of people know," Franjevic said. "It's good to help, and I think it's good for people to know, especially kids. There are a lot of problems over there. Kids our age are being abducted and turned into soldiers."

Furrer said the project helped open the eyes of eighth graders beyond their own world. There are places in the world where children would love to have the opportunity to be in a school or simply read a book.

"A lot of people have things a lot worse, but we have it pretty good," Furrer said. "I wanted to let them see how lucky we are being here."

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