Colton Joint Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Almendarez and Community Cabinet members joined Linda Perez’s fourth grade class at Crestmore Elementary School in Bloomington Monday for a discussion on integrity, kindness, and friendship.
The Superintendent’s Book Club discussions are held to help students across the district improve their literature skills.
Almendarez, along with the class and Cabinet members, read children’s novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio that touches on the story of 10-year-old August “Auggie” Pullman.
Throughout the book Auggie is bullied and ridiculed by his schoolmates due to his appearance, which has been altered due to a medical condition. Despite these experiences, Auggie is confident enough to approach other kids and form relationships.
“I could not put it down,” said Almendarez about the book.
Almendarez was so compelled by the story that he took his 6-year-old grandson to watch the film adaptation.
“I read the book and I was pretty emotional with the book,” said Almendarez. “But what really touched me was seeing how the film impacted him. I said, ‘Wow, for a 6-year-old to say he loved it.’”
The Superintendent told Mrs. Perez’s class of how “impressed” and “proud” he was of their reading efforts.
“You guys are amazing,” Almendarez said.
The Crestmore students agreed that the storyline–a definite “tearjerker”–has taught them valuable lessons about respecting the differences and experiences of others.
“Auggie’s story was inspirational,” said Carlos, 9. “Like the cover of the book [reads], you never judge a boy by his face.”
Bloomington Municipal Advisory Council Vice Chair Israel Fuentes said his favorite part of the story was when Mr. Lawrence Tushman read a motivational speech about Auggie’s perseverance. Recognizing your own greatness does not lie in being strong, but with the right use of strength, Fuentes restated.
“It’s all about doing the right thing,” he said. “Even though you’ll be picked on, you have to remember that you’ll always be that [strong] person.”