Students in Carolyn Davenport’s second-grade class at Canyon Springs Community School received visitors Friday morning: Aid for Schools, Valencia High School’s club comprised of 16-year-old juniors Symone Adams, and twins, Nicole and Noor Haddad.
“We started this club last year. We thought of the idea because we realized the privilege we have to have a big library in our schools,” Adams said. “So we want to give students a lot of books so they can better their reading skills and love reading as much as we did when we were younger.”
Canyon Springs, which is a Title I school, caught the eyes of the Valencia students, who wanted to ensure that the second-grade students had the same resources they received when they were younger. Not only did Aid for Schools donate two new books to each student in the classroom on Friday, but also gave the remaining books to the school library.
In addition, the morning in the classroom consisted of students creating their own books with the assistance of the club, to later share with the rest of their classmates.
“We knew we wanted to help our community first — the community we’ve grown up in,” Nicole said.
With the advancement of technology, Aid for Schools aims to bring a strong reading presence to the students who may prefer to be on their electronic devices, such as tablets.
“I also think we wanted to get kids excited about reading again, because with social media, kids may be more on electronics. At least for me, my favorite memory as a kid was reading a book on the couch on a Saturday morning,” Noor said.
In addition to a Chipotle fundraiser, book drive and selling baked goods, the club received donations to their GoFundMe page, while also promoting events on their social media. The total amounted to $750.
“The first thing we did was start a GoFundMe, where a lot of our family members donated, because we come from pretty big families,” Nicole said. “Then we spread the information around on Instagram, and to our neighbors. We also had a couple of school fundraisers.”
The budget earned is for buying books and supplies to donate. Each book is purchased purposefully and with the mindset of what the Valencia students would’ve wanted themselves when they were the elementary students’ age.
“We knew the last couple of years have been hard with COVID, and we wanted a balance in books because we know that with some kids, reading comes really easy to them and that there are different levels,” Noor said. “We wanted a balance between chapter books and picture books, so that each kid can find their own level and set goals with what books they want to read.”
To encourage this endeavor, the Valencia students spent time looking for a diverse collection of books so that every student can benefit, in addition to doing their research about the demographic.
“We really wanted to have a diverse collection of books so kids can have access and are not limited in any way. We also had some Spanish books in there, because we know it’s a Spanish-speaking school. We wanted to find books for bilingual students. That’s what we found really important,” Adams said.
Friday’s visit is the first of the many visits Aid for Schools hopes to accomplish in spreading the positive message of reading.
“Our next school is actually going to be here, just because we were only able to visit one class so we’re coming back for first grade, but in the future, we want to help like the school more as a whole by holding assemblies, getting more resources and helping bring more of an impact and resources,” Nicole said. “But today, our point was to get the students excited to read.”
While the Valencia students are directing their attention to Canyon Springs for the time being, they are hopeful to expand as much as they can in the future.
“For the next couple of schools we visit, our goal is to reach these underprivileged children and benefit their education more by giving them the supplies they may not already have,” Noor said.
While Aids for Schools has big goals, the steps to expand will include building a website, continuing to spread the word and staying true to their incentive, where every student should have the same access and balance to resources.
“We just want people to know how much we want to help our schools, especially in the community, and how we believe that education should not be considered a privilege,” Nicole said.
Ensuring that reading, and education overall, is a right, all three concurred with Adams’ statement: “We don’t want to limit kids’ education by their economic status.”