Washington Park day for kids a smash hit

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Attendees at the fifth annual Da de los Nios/Children's Day had great fun during the piata-breaking marathon for which 40 were made by hand.

The five-hour event in Washington Park April 30 was hosted by Washington Park-area neighbors and the Blue Mountain Action Council Commitment to Community program.

Families in the neighborhood came up with 40 handmade piatas for the event, which had 50-plus volunteers who contributed 200-plus hours. And more than 250 families translated to more than 1,000 individuals in attendance during the day.

Entertainment and other presentations were made by the Karate Center, Walla Walla High School Latino Club's Bailet Folklrica; and piata-breaking marathon. Additionally, an all-day soccer tournament was hosted by the children's league; there was a bouncy house, mini-race track for boxwood derby cars, face painting, T-ball and parachute games, a fire safety demonstration with E.D.I.T.H. House.

Many groups, businesses and organizations made the event a great success this year, including America West Bank, Americorps, Applebees, Baker Boyer Bank, Blue Mountain Action Council, Broetje Orchards, Children's Home Society, Clay in Motion, Coca-Cola, Dairy Queen, Early Learning Coalition, Esttica Leos, Grocery Outlet, Hairtech Beauty Academy, Karate Center, La Monarca, Little Caesar's Pizza, Safeway, Super-1, Los Tapatos, Wa-Hi Latino Club, West of the Blues BBQ, Whitman College Latino Club, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, Walla Walla Fire Department, Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department, Walla Walla Police Department, Walla Walla Public Library, YMCA, YWCA Ice Chalet.

Local teachers partnered with Walla Walla Elks Lodge 287 during the 2010-2011 school year to support troops deployed overseas.

Elks provides funds for raw materials and postage, member Shelley Murphy said in a release.

Edison Elementary students of Judy Peasley and Green Park students of Diane Mires baked cookies, wrote cards, created personalized gifts and assembled the packages.

Each classroom supported two service members, Shelley said. They also provided material for all of fundraising events the Elks held for the project. The service members have local connections to the community or the teachers themselves, Shelley said.

"Students enjoyed creating and personalizing the packages for each individual hero. While special packages were sent around the holidays, this ongoing project did not stop there. The students averaged a package to each service member every two months.

The students crafted special holders for phone calling cards donated through AmVets and VFW. "The students' work in each package represented the residents of the Walla Walla Valley and their support of our troops."

In recognition of the students' diligence, Elks members brought each classroom ice cream

cake in April.

"These packages would not have been possible if not for the ongoing efforts of the students and their teachers, Judy Peasley and Diane Mires. This project is only made possible by the Valley's support of our fundraising efforts," Shelley said.

"It is nice to live in a community where you see people, especially these kids, remembering that we are only free and safe because other people are willing to put themselves in danger. It is important to remember the kids in our schools who are doing for others. This valley is still a great place to raise a family. We still have a lot of really great kids. The kids in these classrooms are examples of that. Visiting the classrooms only showed me what great kids these are. Delivering the ice cream cakes was the highlight of my entire month."

Because this first attempt with the project was so successful, Shelley said Elks will offer it again in the new school year.

Local residents who have family members deployed may contact Shelley at shelley@wallawallaelks.org. An APO address and a few sentences about the service member will allow packages to be personalized. Pictures are also appreciated, but not necessary.

The program also needs teachers to partner with in the 2011-2012 school year. They can request information at the same email address.

Brelynn Hess, a Pioneer Middle School student, won first place in the GEAR UP Career Showcase competition.

The eighth-grader gave a presentation on being an architect, her choice of career.

She competed against 16 outstanding students from GEAR UP schools throughout Eastern Washington for the honor, an item in a recent issue of Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review online reported.

The top four winners won trips to the GEAR UP National Conference in San Francisco. Brelynn is the daughter of Mark and Kathryn Hess.

In a recent Battle of the Books competition, Sharpstein Elementary School won the championship.

Sharpstein team members were Justin Goss, Jacob Pribilsky, Katie Harvey, Alexis Sanders and Yuridia Albarran.

"A special hooray to the fourth-grade team from Sharpstein who came in first place," said Sharpstein Library Media Specialist Linda Seibold.

"Thank you to everyone who supported our efforts and we are already looking forward to next year's Battle!"

Since 1982, Washington state students have annually selected a book to win the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, reported the Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review online.

Teams from fourth- and fifth-grade classes throughout Walla Walla schools read the 20 WCCPBA nominees. After reading the books, the students took notes on the author and literary elements such as setting, characters and plot.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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