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Leadership Manhattan Beach Creates Classroom Libraries

Jun 08, 2024 08:56AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Leadership Manhattan Beach Class of 2024

The Leadership Manhattan Beach Class of 2024 raised over $12,000 this spring to create six classroom libraries at the Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School, which has no school library.

Through its "Book Zone Project," the 19 members of the leadership class sought to enhance the school's Empowered Reading Program. 

The class was able to procure more than 650 new books taken from a request list from the six teachers. The book selections, in English and Spanish, encompassed the reading skill range of the students, from first-time English learners to AP English classes.

But the project involved more than books: The group ordered and assembled bookcases and bought rugs, comfortable chairs, lamps and book carts for six of the English classrooms at the school. They also created a Parent Resource Room with tables, chairs, new signage and bookcases to make a space for parent meetings and small group speakers, with books for parents to borrow about communicating with their teens, finance and budgeting, life management, and teen issues.


“The opportunity to work with such incredible people has taught us so much and has inspired us to become more involved in our community going forward," said Emma Markolf, a Leadership Manhattan Beach class member and a Mira Costa student.

The Book Zone project involved fundraising and assistance from many supporting organizations and businesses, including Petros Restaurants, Jane K. Euler Family Law, the Manhattan Beach Rotary Club, and Kinecta Credit Union. {pages: a bookstore} was also instrumental in ordering many of the books. The remaining donations came from local friends and families wanting to help support students in the extended community.

Manhattan Beach Mayor Joe Franklin praised the group for its successful project: “Manhattan Beach is blessed with an abundance of loving, caring and talented residents who unselfishly strive to make a difference in the world. Leadership MB was created to tap that talent and develop future leaders in our community. With no library on campus, your project perfectly assisted the school's reading program. This, in turn, leads to dramatic increases in student comprehension and academic achievement. Through your efforts [you have] enhanced the education of future generations.”

Ánimo Ralph Bunche Focuses on Closing Achievement Gap

Ánimo Ralph Bunche High School is a charter school of about 600 students in South Central Los Angeles. Its focus is on accelerating student learning and closing the achievement gap between students in low-income communities and their more affluent peers. Compared to students in Ánimo Ralph Bunche's service area, students from affluent communities have access to eight times as many books in their classrooms.

The students at Ánimo Ralph Bunche High School are primarily from low-income families, but the school is one of the best charter schools in the state, with a high success rate of students being accepted for area and national colleges. The Empowered Reading Program creates specific periods dedicated to reading student-chosen books, dramatically increasing students' comprehension and academic achievement.

“Students are coming in two to three years behind in reading skills, and the Empowered Reading Program brings them to proficiency and even two to three years ahead," said Calvin Chan, senior development officer at Green Dot Public Schools California. "Well over 85% of our kids end up going to college."

Leadership Manhattan Beach Accepting Applications

Celebrating its 30th year of community outreach and service, Leadership Manhattan Beach offers a comprehensive leadership program to educate and develop future leaders. Each year it selects individuals from the community, including seniors, business leaders, volunteers, and high school students who are interested in learning more about city departments, community involvement, and philanthropic opportunities. Techniques learned in Leadership Manhattan Beach training are put to immediate use in the creation, selection and execution of an annual group project. 

Leadership Manhattan Beach is currently accepting applications for its Class of 2025.

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