Children from three communities affected by the latest mass shootings in the United States are starting a new school year. Singer Lady Gaga is trying to make their return to school a little happier and easier.
The Grammy-winning singer recently announced she would pay for several schoolroom projects in the cities of El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California.
In El Paso, there are new books for third-grade students, many of whom do not have any books at home. In Dayton, students with disabilities will have special chairs to help them stay calm. In Gilroy, fifth-graders are getting fun new tools for their science lessons.
Gaga’s aim is to bring a measure of hope to places affected by an especially violent week of mass killings. She wrote on her Facebook page, “I want to channel my confusion, frustration, and fury into hope.”
The money for the projects came from the singer’s Born This Way Foundation, in partnership with the nonprofit group DonorsChoose.
Back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton a week ago left 31 dead. Three more were killed when a gunman opened fire at a celebration in Gilroy the weekend before.
The dead included three school-aged young people. A 6-year-old boy, Stephen Romero, was playing at the Gilroy Garlic Festival when he was killed. A 13-year-old girl, Keyla Salazar, also was killed in Gilroy.
And, 15-year-old Javier Amir Rodriguez died in the shooting at an El Paso Walmart store. Many of the victims had gone to Walmart to buy supplies for the upcoming school year.
Supporting teachers, inspiring students
The DonorsChoose website says it “connects teachers in high-needs communities with donors who want to help.”
A public school teacher from New York City started the organization in 2000. He had wanted his students to read the famous American book Little House on the Prairie. But, he only had enough money to buy a single copy of the book for the classroom.
Gaga promised to pay for 162 school projects, including requests made by teachers from 125 classrooms in El Paso, 14 classrooms in Dayton and 23 classrooms in Gilroy. Other donors had already partly paid for some of the projects.
Among those that Gaga chose to fully finance is a $462 request for books at El Paso’s Whitaker Elementary School. Rebeca Blanco-Grijalva wrote in her appeal on DonorsChoose that she teaches third grade at a poor school. She described her students as “voracious readers.” But many of them do not have any books of their own to read at home.
That will soon change.
Another project hopes to help students with special needs at a school in Dayton. The $862 project will provide a room with an “active chair,” “wobble chair” and other furniture. The teacher of the class wrote on DonorsChoose, “My students live hard lives and come to school looking for love as much as they do an education.”
Gaga wrote on Facebook that the money for these and other projects will give teachers “the support they need to inspire their students to work together and bring their dreams to life.”
I'm Anne Ball.
Words in This Story
confusion - n. a situation in which people are uncertain about what to do or are unable to understand something clearly
frustration - n. a feeling of anger or annoyance caused by being unable to do something
fury - n. violent anger
voracious - adj. having or showing a tendency to consume a lot of something
wobble - v. to move with an unsteady side-to-side motion
furniture - n. chairs, tables, beds, etc., that are used to make a room ready for use