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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
By LAUREN FOREMAN, Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUNITY SUPPORTS CHILD: Students at Sequoia Elementary School manned lemonade stands, dropped change in collection boxes and distributed flyers about a silent auction in a community effort to raise money for a former student dying of unknown causes.
That student, Isabel Rodriguez, is bed-ridden and has limited use of the left side of her body. White mass covers the left side of her brain, which has eliminated function on her right side as well, said Jillayne Lowe, a third-grade teacher at the Richland School District's Sequoia campus.
She visits Isabel each week.
"She grew up in this school district," Lowe said.
She described Isabel, 11, as "a happy, healthy third-grader, running around the playground at school" three years ago, before the student's health began to decline.
"It's gotten more and more serious," Lowe said.
She said her mom, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, found out about two weeks ago that Isabel is not going to recover.
"We want to make sure the family is taken care of," Lowe said.
The school, backed by efforts from local businesses, is raising funds to help the family cover medical costs.
Volunteers planned an enchilada dinner and silent auction that will begin at 3 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. April 10 in the Sequoia cafeteria.
"We are hoping to bring all the schools and staff together for the dinner and have all food donated to increase the amount we are able to raise," Lowe wrote in an email.
Pre-sale tickets will be $8 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets sold the night of the event will be $10 for adults and $7 for children. The event will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
To donate to the Rodriguez family, visit gofundme.com/7jjbfk. The school has a goal to raise $10,000 and had collected $755 as of Wednesday afternoon.
TEACHER OF THE WEEK: Megan Bassett, a Spanish teacher at Stockdale High School, has been an educator for 12 years, and March 16 became one of three teachers that the California Language Teachers Association honored with its Outstanding Teacher Award this year.
The organization has about 3,000 members, according to its website.
Bassett said her nominations included letters from a colleague at Stockdale and Pat Rice, coordinator for the California Foreign Language Project at Cal State Bakersfield,
"That was a huge honor just to be nominated, so I was really surprised that I was awarded it," Bassett said.
President of the Kern County Language Teachers' Association, she began her career with the Kern High School District in 2001 as a English language development and Spanish teacher at South High School.She moved to Stockdale High in 2005 and continued work in the field.
"I really love the Spanish language and culture, and I love sharing that with my students," Bassett said.
LOCAL MUSIC ED ONE OF THE BEST: The Bakersfield City School District is one of nine districts in California nationally recognized for its music education program.
This week, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation honored the district and eight others in California -- Lincoln Unified, Berkeley Unified, Irvine Unified, Scotts Valley Unified, San Diego Unified, Davis Joint Unified, Milpitas Unified and Glendale Unified -- as the Best Communities for Music Education in the United States.
The NAMM issued a press release Wednesday that featured 376 districts out of the nation's 13,588 school districts as Best Communities for Music Education.
Michael Stone, coordinator of the Bakersfield visual and performing arts department, said the local school district offers steel drum, Mariachi, choral, orchestras and band programs.
The district has been able to buy new instruments and add a music teacher because of an arts and music block grant awarded in 2006.
Steve Gabbitas, a spokesman for the local district, said one of the reasons the Bakersfield program has thrived is because officials did not cut the music budget during the economic downturn.
"We haven't cut our music program at all," he said. "In fact, our music programs have grown by probably more than 50 percent over the last years."
Upcoming school bits:
* The deadline for local entries in the Bright House Networks 2014 Future Leaders Scholarship program is April 3. But applications (available online at brighthouse.com/futureleaders) must be postmarked by Friday.
For more information, call Nellie Gallen at 634-2251 or email Nellie.Gallen@mybrighthouse.com.
* A Design Your Own Success Grants program of the Children First Campaign, a local nonprofit, will offer five $1,000 grants to individuals, groups and organizations that live and work in the Bakersfield City School District. The deadline to apply is April 4. For more information about the grants, visit childrefirstcampaign.org.
* The Early Childhood Council of Kern, a Kern County child care planning council, will conduct a public information session April 2 to gather input about established priorities regarding needed child development services for students who are most underserved.
This session will be held in room 204 at the Larry E. Reider Education Center.
For more information or a copy of the proposed priorities, call the Early Childhood Council of Kern at 861-5274.
* The music department at Cal State Bakersfield will feature Rovshan Mamedkuliev, an award-winning concert artist, in the fourth season of the Guitar Arts Concert Series
This concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 3 in the Dore Theatre. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors and $5 for students with student identification. Tickets are available at csubguitarartsmamedkuliev.bpt.me or at the door on the night of the event.
SHAVED HEAD LEADS TO CHANGE: A Colorado charter school's board members reversed an earlier decision Tuesday to ban a student who broke the school's dress code when she shaved her head in support of a friend with cancer.
A barrage of media protest targeted Caprock Academy, and parents celebrated third-grader Kamryn Renfro, the student who shaved her head.
Her friend, Delaney Clements, is not a student at Caprock, The Denver Post reported.
In the aftermath of the decision to change the school's policy, Jamie Olson Renfro (Kamryn's mother) asked Wednesday in a Facebook post that those following the story "move beyond the bald controversy and keep in mind the more important issue: 'Delaney is still in the fight of her life, and needs as much love, support and prayers as she can get.'"
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: We posted the story on The Californian's Facebook page. Here's one response about the Colorado school's policy change:
Nelson Villatoro, Facebook: "Not enough, school needs to issue a public, formal written and verbal apology to the children."