District News

Teachers College of San Joaquin awards grants to 10 teachers

Recipients at a glance

The Promise of Innovation awardees are:

Amanda Boyer: $524

Empire Union School District, Sipherd Elementary, Music Curriculum

Marianne Chang: $2,500

Lodi Unified, Lockeford Elementary, 3-D Printing in the Visual Arts Classroom

Samantha Coughran: $2,500

Fairfield Suisun Unified, Grange Middle School, Film Production

Elizabeth Lowy: $2,500

Linden Unified, Waverly Elementary, Waverly Robotics Lab

Phillip Merlo: $2,500

Stockton Unified, Franklin High, Franklin High School Material Cultures Library

Kristina Pinto: $2,500

Livermore Valley Joint Unified, Rancho Las Positas Elementary, Technology in the Classroom

Sarah Sanchez: $700

Turlock Unified, Cunningham Elementary, Flexible Seating

Linda Sumrall: $2,500

Manteca Unified, Manteca High, Creative Technology Resources

Tracey Vitale: $1,275

Galt Joint Union School District, Lake Canyon Elementary, Large Playground Games

William Xenos: $2,500

Stockton Unified, Merlo IET, Robotics in the English Classroom

Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2017 11:34 pm

Teachers College of San Joaquin awards grants to 10 teachers Special to the News-Sentinel Lodi News-Sentinel

Ten local teachers were awarded up to $2,500 each through the Promise of Innovation grant program offered by the Teachers College of San Joaquin. The money is to help offset the cost of materials needed to implement new and innovative ideas in their classrooms.

The teachers, who are current TCSJ students, received the mini-grants at an awards ceremony on Jan. 27.

“We are excited about offering this opportunity to our students. The Promise of Innovation Grant allows us to recognize teachers and the amazing things happening with kids in our region,” TCSJ President Dr. Diane Carnahan said.

Few opportunities are available for teachers to be honored for their commitment to providing quality learning experiences for students. This award celebrates teachers for being innovative and meeting the needs of students in inventive ways.

Some of last year’s Promise of Innovation awardees started Electronic Notebooks with their students, an affordable way to introduce hands-on learning that teaches the concepts of circuitry, programming and robotics. Another awardee used an ecoSTEM Energy Kit which allowed students to use wind, water, and solar energy to build a working lamp that does not require a plug to illuminate.

Several of the mini-grants are being funded by a $10,000 grant awarded to TCSJ by the Joseph & Vera Long Foundation and a $2,500 grant awarded from the Antone E. & Marie F. Raymus Foundation.

TCSJ has over 1,000 students enrolled in their Teaching Credential, Administrative Services Credential, and M.Ed. program. All candidates who were employed for the 2016-17 school year in the PreK- through 12th-grade setting were eligible to apply for the award.

Awardees will begin implementing projects with their students in the spring and fall of 2017.

For more information about the Promise of Innovation award, contact TCSJ College and Community Liaison Katie Turner at 209-468-9164.


District News


Every 15 Minutes: Lodi students get crash course in realities of drunk driving By Christina Cornejo/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

Smoke billowed from two cars which had collided in front of Lodi High School on Thursday morning. A body was lying limp through the windshield of one car. Teens were injured in both vehicles. Some piled out of both cars afraid for the safety of their peers.

Soon fire engines, police cars and ambulances responded to the scene in front of an audience of close to 1,000 junior and senior Lodi High students.

Host Chris Stevens of the Every 15 Minutes program walked in to explain that this was the beginning of the “Golden Hour” in which time is critical for successful emergency treatment of a traumatic injury.

Students and local first responders worked to recreate the scene of a drunk driving crash, from treating the injured to investigating a drunk driving incident and resulting deaths.

The Every 15 Minutes program is sponsored by the California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Traffic Safety to inform students of the real and emotional consequences of drunk driving.

The goal is to help reduce alcohol-related driving incidents.

When the program started in the 1990s it was named after the drunk driving fatalities that happened every 15 minutes in the U.S. Now that number has changed to one death every 53 minutes according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Before prom season is when the program usually returns to Lodi in alternating years between Lodi and Tokay high schools.

It is unfortunately a time that is more associated with drinking and driving, according to Lodi High Principal Bob Lofsted.

“The visuals provide something that’s a searing memory. There are always students that get emotional about it,” Lofsted said.

Stevens walks students through the process of how all the moving parts work during a real drunk driving crash. Several students were preselected to work as actors in the two crashed vehicles. The scene begins with a prerecorded 911 call regarding a head-on collision.

Lodi firefighters were the first to arrive on the scene working to secure the area and assist the injured. Soon, two American Medical Response ambulances arrived to tend to the wounded while firefighters used the jaws of life to free two “victims” from the two vehicles.

The “drunk driver,” played by Morgan Hammett, sat on the curb sobbing while ambulances left to transport some of the victims to the hospital. A “dead” victim was covered with a tarp. One victim was awaiting transport by air.

CHP and Lodi police officers arrived to investigate the crash and find out if there was a criminal cause of the crash, which was in this case drunk driving. The student playing the driver was led by officers through a field sobriety test before they arrested her and transported her by car to jail.

Finally, after more than half an hour, a REACH helicopter arrived and landed on the football field inside of the track. Stevens told students that medics would evaluate if the patient has a reasonable chance of surviving the trip to the hospital before taking him by air, since the helicopters are a limited resource. A student was ultimately taken by air to Lodi Memorial Hospital.

By the end, all that was left was the student named Alondra Valdovinos playing a dead body on the ground. She was tagged by a San Joaquin County deputy coroner and sent off to a morgue in a hearse.

“Alondra is a really good friend of mine. She’s in my fifth period. It was really heartbreaking to watch,” said Shelby Hand, a Lodi High senior.

Stevens ended the presentation as a phone began ringing from the inside of one of the crashed cars presumably belonging to one of the people who was transported to the hospital or dead.

“Is this your phone? Is it your mom calling you? Is it someone you love’s phone, because it’s not going to get answered today,” he said.

He hopes what message students leave with is that if they are at a party or somewhere with alcohol they need to take care of each other and not let anyone drive drunk.

Students wiped away tears throughout the presentation. Many understood the importance of the experience.

“It’s kind of depressing, but it’s good for students to see it,” said Katelyn Steele, a Lodi High senior.

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodinews.com.



By Christina Cornejo/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

A movement in the name of science is building steam at several Lodi Unified Schools. Robotics, coding, engineering and other programs are rapidly becoming available for local students.

Lodi High School is one of many schools that are offering a diverse courseload and afterschool activities in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).line service to view this article in its entirety.


In one science classroom, under the guidance of teacher Lisa Ing, a hub of science and technology activity takes place twice a week after school.

On one side of the room, a row of large 3D printers print designs for rocketry projects and some artistic creations — a small model of a deer was printed and ready for sanding on Thursday afternoon.

“No schools in the region have 15 3D printers available to students,” Ing said. The lab will be open not only to science students, but those who want to use them for projects in other classes including art classes and even social studies, she said.

Next to the printers that afternoon were a group of students preparing a cardboard and plastic rocket for the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) competition.

They were adding on parts to replace the flimsy balsa wood fins and body pieces that came with their rocket kit to make it fly more efficiently. The goal of the competition is to send a payload (an egg) up 775 feet into the air within 42 to 43 seconds and back down safely without damaging the egg.

This Sunday, the team will be testing their rocket in flight for the first time before their competition in May. Several of the students had already taken a drafting and engineering course, while others were more into the math and calculation side of the project and the opportunity to work together in a team. They were recommended for the team by their physics teacher.

“All of us are interested in majoring in science,” said Frenly Espino, a junior student on the TARC team.

Even some elementary schools are getting involved in science experiments that make use of the International Space Station, called Exobiology, as well as CanSats (can-sized satellites) with a group called Magnitude.io. Middle schools are offering robotics, coding, drafting, forensics, exobiology, rocketry and engineering.

The district has set a goal to create a pathway through all middle and high schools to continue having students learn skills that can be used for college or careers, according to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Lisa Kotowski in a report at a recent school board meeting. The idea is to eventually streamline the course offerings across schools.

“It allows students to find what they’re interested in,” Ing said.

Among Lodi Unified’s high schools, robotics, engineering, computer programming and CanSat programs have been added to all four comprehensive high schools. Students at Tokay and Lodi high schools are also involved in the Storm Drain Detectives, a program to have students do research in the field on the water quality of local waterways, as well as Science Olympiad, a competition using knowledge of different fields of science.

Science Olympiad students at Lodi High were sharing space in the science room on Thursday afternoon, working on making a tall tower out of balsa wood and other types of wood that can hold several grams of sand without breaking.

The other side of the room was busy with robotic arm kits reminiscent of Lego and K’nex sets. Pieces can be attached together in a variety of different ways to make a functioning robotic arm that can be programmed. Senior student Cole Pergerson was sad to have found classes for programming and opportunities to try out robotics so late in his high school career, but he enjoyed the chance to learn more about both.

“I think everyone kind of needs to know computer science,” he said.

Another room featuring 3D printers, drafting tables and a milling machine is more active during the school day and is used for the technical drafting and engineering-type courses using computer aided design. Teacher Paul Guthrie has had students work to design jewelry boxes that open in unique ways, one student having come up with a design that twists open. Another student created a box with a cutaway baseball theme.

Guthrie also coaches the SkillsUSA team which competes in various technical skills, including drafting. They will be returning to competition in April.

The STEAM program has been so popular that a Lodi High alumnus, Chris Diekman, even returned after graduation last year to help students with projects in addition to the job he scored with Magnitude.io, which works with local schools in Lodi and Manteca Unified School Districts on rocket and satellite projects. It was his experience with the STEAM program at Lodi High which led him to become employed right out of high school.

“Even when I was at school, I felt like I helped a lot. As an advanced student I helped other people with their projects and competed in Science Olympiad — just doing whatever I can,” Diekman said.

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodinews.com.


Posted: Thursday, March 9, 2017 11:45 am

Kids poured through the doors of the Charlene Lange Performing Arts Theatre just after 9 a.m. Thursday, chattering excitedly. They shouted and waved to friends as they found seats.

Soon, the entire theater was full. The lights dimmed, and the students cheered.

Then, Lodi Community Concert Association President Judi Halstead took the stage to welcome each of the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes — from Ellerth Larson, Ansel Adams, Leroy Nichols and Needham elementary schools — and introduce Kubecca.

“You’re going to love their unusual instruments and voices,” Halstead said.

Kubecca — aka Rebecca Lowe and Kuba Kawnik — took the stage and wasted no time.

“You ready to hear some music?” Lowe asked the crowd of kids, who screamed “YES!” in reply.

Then she launched into a cover of Jo Dee Messina’s “I’m Alright,” the students quickly clapping out the beat. “Are you alright out there, Lodi?” she yelled.

The kids erupted with joyful cheers.

The concert for the young students is part of the annual community outreach taken on by the Lodi Community Concert Association. In addition to lining up several concerts each year from a variety of musical styles, the association directs much of the proceeds from ticket sales to hosting a concert for students and paying for the buses to bring them to Hutchins Street Square.

For many of the students, the outreach concert is the first one they’ve ever seen.

That’s what several of the students at Thursday’s even said. One or two had seen a musical act before, but nothing like Kubecca, a trio of fourth-graders from Larson school said.

Kubecca may have opened their act with a song, but it quickly turned into a lesson on unusual instruments that had the students entranced. Kawnik played “Tico Tico,” a Brazilian tune, on the electric xylophone — first with two mallets as a traditional xylophone song, playing faster and faster until the kids gasped.

Then, after showing them how the electric version of the instrument could sound like a flute, banjo, pipe organ, violin or just about any other instrument, he played the same song with four mallets in bossa nova (or Brazilian jazz) style. It sounded like a completely different song, drawing delighted applause and laughter from the kids.

Then he showed them the kalimba — a wooden board with metal keys kind of like a “thumb piano,” Kawnik said — and entertained them by playing orchestral pieces like “The Imperial March” from “Star Wars” and the themes from “Indiana Jones” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” on the xylophone.

All the while, Lowe provided stellar vocals that got the kids clapping and the two kept up a steady patter on the stage.

But the odd instrument that wowed the kids — and adults — the most was yet to come.

“I have probably the most unusual instrument in the world,” Kawnik said.

He introduced the theremin, created by Russian physicist Leon Theremin in 1928. The theremin is an electric instrument, a wooden box with two antennas, and the player doesn’t make any contact. Instead, they move their hands closer to and farther away from the antennas, up and down, and add finger motions to control the sound.

“I can scare somebody,” Kawnik joked, and the kids began shouting. “You want me to do it now?” The theremin shrieked, and the kids jumped as laughter rang out.

Then, Kawnik played the theme from “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” The students were quiet as the eerie music filled the theater.

The unique, diverse show is one of two outreach events the Lodi Community Concert Association will host for students this year. Along with Kubecca’s country and Broadway vocals and unique instrumental odyssey, students will also be treated to a performance by flamenco comedy trio Olé in May.

Usually, the association only puts on one student concert per year, but a grant made a second outreach event possible, Halstead said.

The association is dedicated to promoting cultural arts through planning and sponsoring concerts in Lodi. For more information, visit www.lodicommunityconcert.info.


By News-Sentinel Staff Lodi News-Sentinel

Lodi Unified schools performed well at the 31st annual San Joaquin County Science Olympiad Competition on Saturday.

Hosted at McNair High School, the one-day competition brought 600 students from 24 middle school and 20 high school teams in the county to compete in a series of individual and team events involving different areas of science and technology.

Events range from building things to answering questions about chemistry, physics, and biology.

In the middle school division, Elkhorn School’s Gold Team placed second while their Blue Team placed third. Lodi Middle School’s Blue Team earned fifth place.

Tokay High School’s Purple Team was the big first place winner in the high school division. Lodi High School’s Red Team took fourth and Tokay’s Gold Team took fifth.

Each of these schools will have representatives moving on to compete in the NorCal State Finals, which will be held in Turlock on April 1.


Tech tinkering to send Lodi students to Google robotics competition By Christina Cornejo/NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER Lodi News-Sentinel

Tyler Smeenk, an eighth-grade student, held what appeared to be a gaming controller while moving a robot across a foam mat with his thumbs. He and other members of the Lodi Middle School Robotics Club were prepping their new robots for competition on Thursday afternoon.

The robot was equipped with a large wide fork attachment to a moveable arm which he used to pick up a foam star-shaped piece.

“It’s based on a forklift,” said Nicolaus Hilleary, an eighth grader who was also working on the robot.

He tried to flip the fork up to send the star up and over the height of 25 feet, but it got stuck in the bend of the robot’s arm for the first few runs. His group worked to rearrange parts and adjust a gear chain before trying again.

The robotics program headed by teacher Steve Box at Lodi Middle School is still in its infancy. Although students are already eager and very engaged in using tools and programming skills in the classroom, the competitive team has had a slow start due to the need to gather funding. GOT Kids Foundation, the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation and several local businesses and organizations have lent their support to Lodi Middle’s program.

Donations were especially important as the Vex Robotics sets needed to get started cost between $1,000 and $1,200.

Students received the first three VEX Robotics sets in December of last year and have been working diligently to put together functioning robots for a big competition this coming Saturday.

Their destination is the Google campus in Mountain View to compete in the Google VEX Starstruck tournament against schools from all over Northern California. The goal is to build a robot that can toss cubes and stars over a fence at a 20 foot height and 29 foot height to score points for their team and also robots that can block the opponent from tossing items over from the other side of the fence. Rounds are timed and the ones who toss the most items over the fence by the end win.

“It’s like sports for the nerds,” Hilleary said.

Given the short amount of time they’ve spent with the robots, the team is not expecting a big win right away, but instead are hoping to gain experience to bring back. With that the team can be better prepared for future competitions.

In addition to putting their robot building and programming skills to the test, students will also get to tour the Google campus to see what it’s like inside the giant technology company.

Students spent Thursday testing the controls of a fully-constructed robot, which was hand-programmed by a seventh-grade student in the class. They had to record logs of everything they changed or did during the preparation for the competition in an engineering notebook.

“One team went to nationals just because they had a great engineering notebook,” Hilleary said.

In another group, three seventh-grade girls were working on tightening bolts and nuts to attach a metal panel to a set of two robotic arms.

The panels were meant to block enemy fire of stars and cubes over the fence.

“We had some minor mistakes. When the arm comes up, it’s too flimsy and is not able to block,” said Madison Gallard, a seventh grader.

Classmates came over to offer suggestions as they tinkered such as, “can you add another motor here” and “what if you extend this part?” Despite being sectioned off into groups, there was a sense of working together ever present in the room.

The troubleshooting and creativity that students apply to figure out how to make their robots work are invaluable skills for them to learn, according to Box.

Until they experience failure and have to solve those problems, they won’t know how they’re doing, he said.

They build, test and then evaluate if the robot is doing what they need it to do.

“The kids have learned a lot. It’s a very student-driven process,” Box said. “When you own the learning process you get more out of it.”

Box is also working on creating an engineering course at Tokay High School so students who move up from Lodi Middle School can continue to build on what they’ve learned in his robotics class and in the after school competitive team. Outside of robotics, Box also teaches the Manufacturing Principles class at Lincoln Technical Academy and coaches basketball.

He is glad to be able to offer this kind of program for students and get them engaged in school in their middle school years.

“The kids have learned a lot. It’s a very student-driven process,” Box said. “When you own the learning process you get more out of it.”

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodi news.com.



By Jason Anderson
Record Staff Writer
STOCKTON — Hundreds of high school and middle school students from throughout the area converged on McNair High School on Saturday for the 31st annual San Joaquin County Regional Science Olympiad.

The competition featured 20 high school teams and 24 middle school teams from throughout the county. More than 600 students participated in the event.

Officials from the San Joaquin County Office of Education said Science Olympiad tournaments are rigorous academic interscholastic competitions consisting of a series of individual and team events. The competitions follow the formats of popular board games, television shows and sporting events.

The events feature disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, computers and technology. There is a balance between events requiring knowledge of science facts, concepts, processes, skills and science applications, Office of Education officials said.

Winning teams were awarded medals in each event, and plaques were presented to the top five overall teams in each division.

In Division B, the middle school competition, Wicklund Elementary School's Black Team took first place. Elkhorn School's Gold Team finished second. Elkhorn Blue was third, Wicklund Gold was fourth and Lodi Middle School's Blue Team was fifth.

In Division C, the high school division, Tokay's Purple Team finished first. Mountain House's Blue Team was second, Franklin's Chlorine Team was third, Lodi's Red Team was fourth and Tokay's Gold Team was fifth.

Four $100 grants were given in each division for the purchase of science materials. The top four schools in each division will advance to compete in the NorCal State Finals in Turlock on April 1, but only one team per school may represent San Joaquin County at the state competition.

Wicklund Black, Elkhorn Gold, Lodi Blue and Questa Red advanced in Division B. Tokay Purple, Mountain House Blue, Franklin Chlorine and Lodi Red advanced in Division C.

Certain events were open to the public, including the Electric Vehicle competition. The husband and wife duo of Marco and Grit Walther served as event managers for the competition.

"I like the attitude of the kids," said Grit Walther, a teacher at Traina Elementary School in Tracy. "I just enjoy how they're learning from it. You see the outcome of their effort and how they work as teams. It's a chance for them to explore and try things they often cannot do in schools."

Jashdeep Dillon, 16, and Yash Taneja, 16, represented Tracy High School in the electric vehicle competition, which requires teams to construct cars powered by a nine-volt battery. Scoring is based in part on speed and distance from the target.

Dillon and Taneja built their electric vehicle using a mousetrap with compact discs ringed with rubber tubing for tires.

"I think this is a very enriching experience because you really get to apply the skills you learn in school to real-life applications such as the electric vehicle," Taneja said. "I'm grateful for the Science Olympiad experience because in the future I plan to become an engineer, maybe, and I think things like this show us how the engineering profession is going to be."

Leo Montes De Oca, 17, and Alejandro Malanche, 16, represented Franklin High School. They said the competition requires considerable preparation.

"It's pretty intense," Montes De Oca said. "It's a lot of work and it takes a lot of time, but it's really enjoyable."

— Contact reporter Jason Anderson at (209) 546-8279 or janderson@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/crimeblog and on Twitter @Stockton911.


Miss California 2016 Jessa Carmack, a Santa Clara native, visits with Adams Elementary School third-graders Friday. NICHOLAS FILIPAS/THE RECORD

STOCKTON - With a sparkling tiara on her head and a white sash draped over her right shoulder, Miss California 2016 Jessa Carmack spoke to Adams Elementary third-graders about how important living a healthy lifestyle can be.

"I love kids," Carmack said. "My target audience is elementary and middle school students ...; so this is fun for me."

After being crowned Miss California last summer, the 22-year-old Santa Clara native has used her platform to spread her message about the foundations for a healthy future and fitness.

She studied and earned a public relations and communications degree from San Jose State University. Her talent and hobby since she was a little girl has been dance and gymnastics, and, according to her online biography, she's a four-year cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers.

Adams Elementary was just the first of three Stockton schools Carmack visited on Friday, also talking to students from Primary Years Academy and Vinewood Elementary.

Her platform, broken down into three categories, starts with developing a habit of eating from the five important food groups (fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and grains).

"If I wasn't healthy, I wouldn't be able to do gymnastics," said Carmack. "In order to do this, I had to be (the) best self I can be."

But what about the occasional sweet treat? Carmack said she enjoys cookies just like anyone else, but that and other kinds of junk food can be eaten in moderation.

"Since we want to eat them sometimes, let's call them our 'sometimes food,' " said Carmack.

The other categories focused on getting at least an hour of exercise each day, being respectful and having a healthy mind.

Because, believe it or not, even Miss California can have a bad day.

"Whenever you're having a bad day, I want you to share that with a classmate or friend, teacher, parent, brother, sister, grandparents - even your dog," she said to giggles from the audience.

The message, Carmack said, is to practice healthy habits now and by the time the third-graders become college students, it'll be second nature.

Adams Elementary Principal Sharon Womble said she was thankful to have Carmack visit and give the kids a positive role model to look up to.

"It's a great way to have a role model, somebody who talks about education and living healthy," Womble said.

"They're not just hearing it from us and their parents, (they're) hearing it from somebody who can be a role model, and I think she did a really good job."

- Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.


Jon Pritikin urges Lockeford students to help others, stand up against bullying By Christina Cornejo/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

Several students took to the stage to help with a feat of strength using a steel bar in multipurpose room at Lockeford Elementary School. Jon Pritikin, the president of an organization called Feel the Power and a Lodi resident, was visiting the school to promote a compelling anti-bullying message to the students. The presentation was paid for with a donation from the GOT Kids Foundation.

Pritikin asked a fifth-grade student and a sixth-grade student to take hold of two ends of the steel bar. He showed his strength by lifting them both up and turning around several times.

Students in the audience reacted in disbelief at the sight of two students held hovering above the ground.

He then asked two more students to verify that it was a steel bar.

“Have you ever seen the ESPN Strongman competition where they bend the two ends together around their neck?,” he asked. “Well, I’m not going to bend it with my neck, I’m going to use my teeth,” he said.

Using a mouth guard, Pritikin placed the steel bar in his mouth and bent the two ends as easily as if he were bending a stick of butter.

His next part of the assembly he took to talking about heroes — how they protect those who are not as strong as they are.

“You will go through a time in your life that’s sad and you will need someone to be a hero to you,” Pritikin said. “Someone at school or someone at home will go through a tough time, and you will need to help them.”

The high excitement of the amazing feats of strength Pritikin displayed gave way to several students wiping away tears as they heard his touching story.

He told the story of a child who had trouble reading and speaking and was placed in a special education class. No one sat with him at lunch, and students would often make fun of him and throw garbage at him. He would watch other boys play and wish he could join.

One day, when a group older boys at school invited him to play a game, the child did not realize they intended to hurt him. He ended up getting tripped by one of his fellow students and falling face-first onto the ground causing him to bleed and later need stitches from the hospital.

“All 25 boys didn’t help him up, they didn’t get a teacher. No one was a hero to him,” Pritikin said.

A teacher told the child that he would never amount to anything, at which point Pritikin paused and told the students that they should never believe it when someone tells them they aren’t special or important.

The poor treatment by his peers continued through high school until he received the support of a teacher that helped him learn how to read and be able to go on to college. It was in college that he found the strength to turn his life around.

Pritikin revealed that the child in the story was him. Audible gasps were heard in the room. Students had been hanging on to his every word.

He asked a favor of the students at Lockeford Elementary School: to not let any other students eat by themselves.

“Eighth graders, you’re the oldest students and that makes you the leaders. You need to watch out for everyone else,” he said.

Not only did he leave them that message, he also brought forward a student on the stage to let her know that she was special and important. She became overcome with emotion at his words.

The presentation ended with one last feat of strength as he snapped a wooden baseball bat in half and offered to let students come up to meet him after the presentation. Many took him up on that offer, visibly showing that his words had an effect on them.

“I cried,” eighth grader Brook Lind said. “Just the fact that he had to go through stuff like that.”

Another eighth grader understood well the feelings behind Pritikin’s story.

“It’s sad and true, because I’ve been through that,” said Joni Chavez.

Younger students like sixth grader Juan Gomez thought the message against bullying would help people, but he was also impressed with the exciting parts of the presentation.

“It was good how he broke the bat,” Gomez said.

Pritikin has been doing these presentations all over the world, including the Middle East, Africa, Japan and several places across the U.S. since 1995. He travels with his wife and daughter, who is 13. Wherever he goes, he said the message is well received.

“It was touching. He did touch a lot of our students’ lives,” said Vice Principal Jaime Kite-Polinsky. “A lot have had something happen in their lives that brought up some emotion.”

She is hoping they take with them the message that she tries to instill in many of the students that their words and actions matter and affect others.

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodinews.com.