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Local dentist donates computer to essay winner

While high school graduations tend to garner quite a bit of attention, the final days of the elementary school year are often overlooked.

Administrators at Claremont’s primary schools, however, do their best in the days leading up to summer vacation to plan exciting activities that reward students for their efforts during the past year.

The COURIER stopped by Vista del Valle Elementary School on Wednesday, June 13, the second-to-last day of school, and found a whirl of activity. Along with its annual awards ceremony, the school was also holding its yearly carnival. Festivities ranged from a watermelon-spitting contest to a competition in which students tossed water balloons at a clown. The fun was a welcome respite after a year dominated by state testing.

Two award ceremonies were held throughout the day, one aimed at students in the lower grades and the other organized for students in fourth through fifth grades.

Although there were awards given for perfect attendance, Vista Principal Dave Stewart noted that, in general, the school doesn’t honor students “just for showing up.”

Instead, students were lauded for a range of activities, from earning good grades to participating in the band to exercising outside of school.

Awards were also given to students for their writing, thanks to a contest sponsored by the Claremont Dental Institute. They were asked to write essays about good deeds they have performed, with the top 3 students winning prizes.

Dr. Vijay Patel was happy to present a brand-new computer to first place winner Norma Rodriguez, who was also the first-place winner in the school’s Brian Clay essay contest earlier in the year.

Asked whether she plans to be a writer, Norma demurred. Instead, she hopes to be a marine biologist.

Norma and the second and third place winners—Reign Black, who won a bike, and Isabel Gonzalez, who received a toothbrush—are all fourth graders in Pat Holbrook’s class.

Ms. Holbrook, who is retiring this year, says she has always emphasized the importance of writing. Good writing skills results in good reading and vocabulary skills, leading to higher academic performances and test scores throughout a students’ education.

“If you can write well, everything else falls into place,” she said.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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