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Giving spirit

When Alfee Enciso wrote an opinion column for the Los Angeles Times pleading for better funding in his inner-city school, he never expected that a girl young enough to be one of his own students would be the only person to respond.

Julie Byren, a 13-year-old from Hermosa Beach, Calif., located about 20 miles from where Mr. Enciso teaches English/language arts at the 1,900-student Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, read the piece and decided to hand over $800, a portion of the money she had recently received for her bat mitzvah, the Jewish rite of passage for girls.

Mr. Enciso used the money for a field trip to a local African-American bookstore, where 20 students were able to pick out any book they wanted. Some teachers accompanied the students and ordered volumes for their classrooms.

Most of the students on the field trip had never been in that bookstore before, Mr. Enciso said, and he wanted them to own their own books. "In the rush to get test scores up, we are not promoting reading for the sheer joy of reading," he said.

Late last month, the Los Angeles Times published a story describing the donation and field trip. Mr. Enciso said the day the story came out, he received seven phone calls from people following Julie's lead and wanting to donate. "An African-American man walked into my classroom and gave me a check for $1,000," he said. "I wanted to hug him."

No seconds

Ever crave a second helping of school cafeteria food?

Some students at Ramah High School in Ramah, N.M. are demanding that their school keep providing free extra servings of burgers topped with government-issue cheese, among other delectable dishes.

When servers at the school stopped the practice in an effort to cut down on costs and overproduction, a group of boys petitioned the school board to reinstate free second helpings.

Suzanne Whitehead, the director of food services for the 13,000- student Gallup-McKinley County school district, said she decided to curtail the free second helpings because her other 26 cafeterias charged for additional servings.

The district 140 miles west of Albuquerque is 5 1/2 times the size of Rhode Island. In school lunch terms, it covers an area equivalent to 26.4 million 12-inch pizzas.

—Michelle Gallery & Alan Richard

Vol. 19, Issue 14, Page 3

Published in Print: December 1, 1999, as Take Note

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