A Rainy Day in Placitas
The air was cool and crisp.
It was so clean and new
that you could taste it.
It tasted like fresh air
with the dirt and the trees.
It tasted like Earth.
Across so many miles of nothing,
the rain splattered every foot of land.
It showered down like magic.
Like a force field that was washing away
all of the pollution and bad energy.
Standing in the rain in Placitas
is the most magical thing ever.
Itís like youíre free.
You realize what life is really about.
Itís not about school or homework.
And itís not about being the best at anything.
Itís about being there.
Doing what you can do.
Life is about standing in the rain
and noticing the trees, the smell.
Itís about taking life
and riding it.
Get caught reading!
óU.S. Representative Tom Udall
If you're enjoying the opportunity to read this newspaper, consider yourself fortunate. An unsettling fact about American society is that there are nearly forty-four million adults who are unable to read a simple story to a child. This alarming statistic is cause for concern because of the importance that reading plays in improving an individual's quality of life. The president has talked of "leaving no child behind" and this is certainly a worthwhile goal when we speak of reading.
Unfortunately, too many Americans are being left behind. Of 158 countries, the United States ranks only forty-ninth in literacy. Approximately 120 million adults are unable to read beyond a fifth-grade level. Furthermore, nearly 60 percent of the adult population has never read a book of any kind.
These troubling statistics are stark evidence that much more needs to be done to promote reading in America. What can we do?
Most importantly, we can instill good reading habits in our children by reading to them often, starting at an early age. Research shows that reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for developing their literacy skills. It's so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians prescribe reading activities along with other instructions to parents at visits to the doctor.
Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years.
Parents, childcare providers, and teachers are not the only ones who must do more to encourage reading. Nationally, we need to all work together to raise awareness about the value of reading. I'm hopeful we'll begin to see improved results from these efforts. Some have even implemented creative campaigns to achieve our goals of improved literacy. The Association of American Publishers and Magazine Publishers of America have established the Get Caught Reading Program. It is designed to heighten awareness of the need for a renewed focus on reading in America.
This nationwide initiative is supported by schools and libraries, as well as book and magazine retailers all over the country. John Elway, Whoopi Goldberg, and Sammy Sosa have all been "caught reading" at one point or another. Even Donald Duck and the Rugrats have been "caught reading."
We can all set aside time to pick up a good book and experience the joy of reading. We should promote reading for the sake of our children. So set aside a time each day to read and encourage others in your family to do the same.
Optimists de Sandoval report
Once again the Junior Optimists will meet at Placitas Elementary from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting September 4, to assist their community with crafts and nature projects. These fine youngsters are also helping to build a community playground.
This year your Optimist Club begins working September 3 with even younger children as we cosponsor a prekindergarten program at San Antonio Mission. We plan to move to Placitas Elementary when space allows. Children may participate during all or part of the school week. For information about the prekindergarten, please call Snow Moore Watson, 867-2047.
The elementary schools in Sandoval County will be visited by Kasey, the Optimist-sponsored pooch who so much enjoys spending time with good, well-behaved readers. He finds a lot of those in Sandoval County.
September brings Optimists to Rio Rancho High School to register new voters in time for the November election. This program was initiated in the spring with the Optimists' visit to Bernalillo High School, where many first-time voters were registered. For further information about voter registration, please call Margaret Palumbo, 867-6614.
The annual Optimist essay, oratorical, and golf contests are getting started. Winning these programs can lead to scholarships as well as good experience.
The Optimists de Sandoval are looking for other organizations with whom to partner in the fall candidates forum. April's forum, again, showed that the community has outgrown the Volunteer Fire Station.
This new, one-year old club is making a great impact on Placitas, but is limited in how much it can do beyond Placitas. For that reason we want to start a noontime club in Bernalillo to better meet the needs of this neighbor community. For information about the new Bernalillo club, please call Suzann Owings, 867-0567.
The Optimists de Sandoval are selling a great community calendar and ushering at Lobo sporting events to raise money for community youth programs.
To learn more about the Optimist Club de Sandoval, join us at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, September 16, for our Officer Installation and Awards (potluck) Banquet at the Placitas Mission San Antonio Community Center on Paseo de San Antonio. We will be thanking Nancy Hawks, our superb outgoing charter president, and welcoming Elaine Sullivan, our terrific, incoming club president for 2002-2003.
For further information, please contact Optimist Club president Nancy Hawks at RNHteacher@aol.com or Maude Linnartz at 771-2337.
Calling all mentors. (Yes, thatís you!)
Bernalillo High School is offering a new program to some of its students this fall: a mentorship program for women students at risk of dropping out of high school. This program is modeled after an award-winning program in which Intel employees mentor students at Cibola High School. Cibola students benefit tremendously and rave about the experience of having a mentor.
This program at Bernalillo High School will use Sandoval County residents as mentors. We have a lot of small-businesses and home owners, artists, a large retirement community, and local residents, all of whom are committed to increasing the quality of life for everyone in the community. One way of doing this is to be involved in the local schools. This is an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the life of young women who have dreams and aspirations, but maybe not the know-how to achieve them.
A mentor is someone who encourages, listens to, and supports their student. You can talk about career goals, review their classes, and help them be successful, or just provide a sounding board for their concerns and issues. Mentors meet with their students once a week for one hour on the BHS campus from September to May.
There will be a mentor training session on September 10 at 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Bernalillo High School Library for anyone interested in finding out more about the program or signing up to be a mentor. A kick-off celebration to meet the students will be scheduled for early October. Please confirm your attendance by calling Bernalillo High School at 867-2388, or just stop by on September 10. All are welcome.