A trio of Moore Middle School students started with a relatively modest idea: Organizing a book drive for elementary schools throughout the city, particularly those with a high percentage of students who come from low-income families. The service learning project would be part of their participation in Destination Imagination, a national nonprofit organization that encourages student innovation and community service through state and global competitions.
From there, the idea grew...and grew...and grew. The final result: Moore students Lily Ardinger Stibal, Matthew Killham and Darian Kauk collected more than 800 children’s books. They worked with bilingual liaisons from Lincoln Public Schools to have 17 of those books translated into seven different languages for English Learning Learner students at West Lincoln Elementary School. Finally, the Moore students wrote a play about the project and performed it for the West Lincoln students on Friday before presenting the books to Principal Scott Schwartz.
Oscar Rios Pohirieth, LPS cultural specialist and bilingual liaison coordinator, worked with the students and their parents to help make the idea a reality. Afterwards, he had high praise for Ardinger Stibal, Killham and Kauk.
“A lot of thoughts come in to my mind but one in particular: These are the kids who will the lead the world at some point in time,” he said. “We need to provide them with the tools in order for them to be able to communicate multicultural speaking with the rest of the world. And they are starting at a good place. They were intentional about wanting to see what the issues within our community are.”
“We all love to read and we know that not everybody has the same opportunity as us to read,” said Kauk, a seventh-grader. “It was so much fun to present them to the kids and see their faces when we presented all of the books to them.”
The Moore students chose books with fewer words and plenty of space on their pages for translations to be included on stickers next to the English. At Friday’s event inside the West Lincoln library, six LPS bilingual liaisons each read a book in a different language for the roughly 20 ELL students in the audience, as well as their parents who participate in the LPS Family Literacy Program. Each student in the audience spoke one of the translated languages, which included Russian, Spanish, Kurdish and Vietnamese. (Overall, there are roughly 150 languages spoken by LPS students.)
Rios Pohirieth said this project, spearheaded by middle school students, can serve as a valuable lesson for people of any age.
“I may not know you, but I can learn by doing a little bit of research, by asking you questions, by trying to collaborate with you, in the hopes that through that process I can help.”
Update: The Moore students performed the play about their service-learning project last week at the state Destination Imagination competition in Kearney. They placed first at the middle-school level and also won the Project Outreach Torchbearer Award, which honors teams whose solutions have had an extraordinary impact on their communities. The students will now participate in the global competition in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 22-25. They’ll join about 17,000 other students representing 1,400 teams from 40 states and 20 countries.
Published: April 9, 2019, Updated: April 18, 2019