What better way is there to make a new friend than to share lunch and a good book?
That’s the sentiment of Crookham Elementary School first-grade teacher Debbie Benafield. Her pupils and those of Jose Lambaren and Elizabeth Rodriguez at the Winton school spent some quality time last month with Atwater High School leadership students.
Benafield said the Atwater High students read books to the first-graders, and some even brought their favorite childhood book to share with their young partner. They also shared time on the school’s playground.
“The coolest thing about the visit was that my partner read a story from a tablet,” first-grader Owen King said. “The book was called ‘The Ten Leprechauns’. ”
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Playing games with the high school students, one of which was Duck Duck Goose, was the best part of the day for Evalyn DaSilva. Guilibaldo Cortez liked his partner, Bryce Ludwig.
Nathan Braga, Atwater High School activities director, said his leadership class students enjoyed the experience.
“Our kids loved it,” Braga said. “Looking at the faces of the little guys, they had a blast, too.”
The experience is something she will never forget, said senior Bernadette Sevilla.
“We had about 55 students reading their favorite children’s book to three classes of first-graders,” she said. “After reading we played on the jungle gym equipment, channeling our inner first-grade self.”
Senior Joy Wilcox said the collaboration brought back many memories of her days at Crookham.
“Everything now seems smaller than I remembered,” she said. “It was great seeing my old teachers as well. This was a great day.”
The high energy of first-graders was an eye-opener for Alexis Montoya, Atwater High student body president.
Braga said his students planned two visits each to Atwater and Winton elementary schools during this school year.
“This was an incredible experience for all of the students,” Benafield said.