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Students Helping Students
A busload of school supplies and materials, from books and pencils to maps and crayons, were collected through an effort spearheaded by Sierra View Elementary students and staff, shown here as they get ready to load up and head to a damaged elementary school in Sonora to make the delivery of items. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Taking the holiday theme of giving to the next level, Oakdale students and teachers helped a Sonora elementary school impacted by fire get back on firm educational ground.
The effort, said officials, also extended to neighboring communities as word spread of the fire and the need to replace school supplies.
“Kindness and compassion, those are the traits we have for December,” Sierra View Elementary School vice principal Kathy Pinol explained of how the effort got started. “It worked in really nicely that we could do something as a school to practice compassion, especially over the holidays.”
While having a school lose books, supplies and computer equipment in a fire isn’t the way officials would have preferred to focus on compassion, Pinol said the effort made students feel empowered that they could have a positive impact.
“The first day we had lots of kids that went home and cleaned out their closet, brought books in,” Pinol said. “One boy, he was so touched, he went home and did his homework, then started a fund drive to go buy supplies.”
Sierra View grade levels all contributed different items to the effort: the primary grades focused on binders, paper, pens and pencils, while the fourth through sixth grades sought to collect books for their fellow students ‘up the hill.’
Pinol said the school received a list from the Sonora principal, Chris Boyles, regarding what classrooms and grade levels were affected and it included not only fourth, fifth and sixth grade classrooms but also learning centers, a speech office and a counseling office, as well as some seventh grade classes.
Pinol said the effort to help the Sonora school had its roots at Sierra View but it soon became a wide-reaching program.
“This was definitely a team effort,” agreed Pinol. “Linda Kraus organized the Stanislaus County teachers’ collection of materials, Sierra View students collected supplies and books. Oakdale Junior High also had a book drive.”
The countywide collection featured donations from Turlock, Ceres, Salida, Patterson, and Oakdale, while some donations also came in from Tracy. Three carloads of materials, Kraus said, had already been taken to the school prior to the busload of items taken on Friday.
Also, the bus garage and district office collected money for books while Kari Anderson, bus driver, donated her time to drive the bus and Sierra View student representatives and staff to the Sonora school on Friday.
“Robert Nunn, Sierra View custodian, gathered and organized all the materials as they were delivered,” Pinol said.
And were they delivered.
Boxes and bags of supplies, maps, charts, pens, markers, books … all were carried out to the bus on Friday morning, as a chilly wind blew but couldn’t contend with the warmness in the hearts of the school kids on a mission.
“This was a great experience for all of the people involved,” Pinol said, as students learned the real meaning of giving.
“They had banners up welcoming us,” Pinol added of the group’s arrival in Sonora. “There were Sonora students who came out to help carry the boxes and supplies in. Sonora’s Principal, Chris Boyles, gave us a tour of the school and explained how the fire happened and the results of the fire. He also showed the students pictures of the inside of the damaged classrooms.”
Having a chance to see the damage and knowing that they had a small part in helping the students and school recover from it was a great holiday gift, said Pinol.
All involved also noted that, even though the schools have traditionally been rivals on the sports fields and courts, this effort went above and beyond that, seeing through the Mustangs vs. Wildcats to look at the students needing students.
“What a great outpouring of support,” added Terri Taylor, Assistant Superintendent.