Huff Kids Happy to Get Bilingual Dictionaries
Byline: Mark Billings
Nearly 200 students at Huff Elementary School in Elgin are enjoying new Spanish-English dictionaries, thanks to a generous donation from the Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club.
Each of the third-and-fourth-grade classes at Huff, or 175 students, received the colorful dictionaries from Breakfast Rotary member Chris Matus, who runs Rieke Office Interiors in Elgin. He coordinated the effort, which included a $1,000 Rotary matching grant, and $1,000 from his club.
"This was the first time we have ever received a donation of Spanish-English dictionaries," said Luis Cabrera, principal at Huff for 20 years. "Hopefully our students will share the dictionaries with their parents so they can begin looking at the pictures and begin to learn English with their children."
Cabrera said Spanish is the first language for 90 percent of the students receiving the dictionaries. Huff, which is located on the city's southeast side, has an enrollment of 750 students grades pre-K through six. The school has been on the state's academic warning list for four years and must take corrective action to bolster test scores.
The behavior of the 175 students during the 20-minute assembly was remarkable. Virtually no one spoke or hardly moved from their seated positions on the polished floor as Matus, Cabrera and school librarian Irene Gallik distributed the dictionaries.
"I could tell everyone at the school was excited about the donation," said Matus.
"I was really pleased with how the students paid attention. With the teachers there and the support of the librarian, I feel the dictionaries are going to make a difference."
The Breakfast Rotary also donated $100 in bookstore gift cards to the school. The money is intended as an incentive for the school's Parent-Teacher Organization to organize a literacy contest for students.
Centro fund-raiser: Support the networking and outreach events of Centro De Informacion by attending a fifth annual fund-raiser and recognition dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. May 21 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Elgin. The $65 ticket price includes dinner and a silent auction. For information, call Centro at (847) 695-9050.
Last year, Centro served more than 22,000 Hispanic residents in Elgin, Hanover Park and Carpentersville with various services including immigration, public aid, citizenship, advocacy, food pantry, and baby-sitting. …