To Ariel Johnson, balloons are pretty universal.
Whether you grew up in Bradenton or Honduras, you probably enjoyed playing with a balloon at one time or another. So when the State College of Florida Collegiate School student was tasked with writing a book in English and in Spanish to send to a child in another country, she pretty easily settled on writing about balloons.
“I thought of my childhood and what I enjoyed,” said Ariel, a 12-year-old seventh-grade Bradenton resident attending SCF’s charter school.
SCF Collegiate School is a public charter school in Manatee County serving students from grade six through 12. Students enrolled at the charter school are able to earn SCF credit and complete an associate’s degree while in the charter school.
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Last year, all 60 sixth-graders attending the charter school housed at SCF’s campus participated in the project, which included researching, writing, drawing and translating roughly 20-page books. Originally set to head to Guatemala, the books will soon be shipped out to a former SCF collegiate school teacher now working in Honduras. Once in Honduras, the teacher will find a needy school and donate the books.
The books will likely ship out before Christmas, according to school officials. In addition to writing and designing, the students also helped raise money last year to cover printing and shipping costs.
Book topics range from balloons, to animals, to colors and even some history topics. William Meinberg, a 12-year-old Bradenton resident, chose to write about Rah, the Egyptian sun god. Using a history book of his own, William pulled some information to help write his book. But that was the easy part.
William said the hardest part of the project was the translation.
“I had absolutely no knowledge of Spanish, so I had to go to different websites to make the correct translations,” William said. “I hope they’re excited to read about it.”
The hardest part was probably thinking of ideas that would be entertaining for younger kids.
Ariel Johnson, SCF Collegiate School student
Hannah Agliano, an 11-year-old Bradenton resident, called her project “Your Very Own Book of Colors.” She chose that topic so the kids could easily learn colors in English.
“I learned that it’s good to help people out and it’s also very fun,” she said. “It’s really cool.”