Trapp Elementary School program specialist hand-making desks for students

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Photos Daniel Cuevas: Daniel Cuevas and daughter Therese bonding over the completion of another hand-made desk for a student in need.
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Daniel Cuevas, program specialist at Trapp Elementary School, has been busy hand-making desks for students in Rialto and around the greater community.

In September, Cuevas came across a newspaper article in regard to a laid-off tech worker, Chai Hansanuwat, of Chino, who had lent his time and energy to making over 300 desks for students participating in distance learning across Southern California.

“I came across the newspaper article and I contacted him. I immediately began helping out because I understand a student’s need for a desk at home to stay organized and maintain the focus through distance learning,” said Cuevas.

Daniel with daughter Athena building desks that will be distributed to students for free to enhance distance learning.

To date, Cuevas and his assistants – his children – have hand-made 11 desks for distance learning students at Trapp Elementary and 18 desks for students in other cities across the region.

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“Hansanuwat’s desk-making initiative has led to a group of 26 of us throughout Southern California coordinating the initiative in our very own communities. Working and living in Rialto, I have seen and heard about our students’ lack of a space designated for learning,” continued Cuevas.

The Bridge Academy, Rialto Unified School District’s distance learning program, has been met with mixed responses, as some teachers have experienced witnessing students participating in class activities from their bed.

A Trapp Elementary School student sitting at her hand-made desk and headphones to assist with distance learning, called Bridge Academy in the Rialto school district.

“This pandemic has posed such difficulty for students and families in regard to distance learning. With households having multiple siblings at home participating in distance learning, it’s posed problems such as students not having a workspace, or a chair, and some cannot hear their teachers speaking because there are other siblings in the same room trying to learn as well,” said Bernice Gutierrez, principal at Trapp Elementary School.

“To bridge this gap and provide our students an opportunity to excel through this era of distance learning, Daniel has been gracious enough to hand-make desks for students at our school. We’re also providing our students a chair, headphones and a privacy board, on request, to assist with their level of focus,” continued Gutierrez.

Gutierrez detailed how she accompanied Cuevas in delivering the first hand-made desk to a Trapp Elementary student’s home and witnessed two students on their knees, sitting around a coffee table without headphones and both classroom lectures audio playing out loud.

“These desks and the other items we are providing students are not only assisting the students, it’s also assisting the teachers as well. It’s creating a quality learning environment and the level of focus has increased for everyone,” concluded Gutierrez.

Although Cuevas says the desks are fairly easy to make…requiring only a 4×8 MDF plywood, a piece of 2×2 eight foot long wood and screws, the hand-made desks can become costly; especially since this unofficial desk-making team has received 1,200 requests for a free desk.

“So far our small team of 26 has built and disseminated around 647 desks, but we have another 1,200 requests in cue. It costs about $75-$80 to purchase materials per six desks. So far we’ve received donations from family, friends, and colleagues; but there is still a need,” Cuevas said.

The goal of Cuevas and Gutierrez is to strengthen the relationship by connecting the community to the school, while being of service to parents, students and teachers by providing students essential tools to aid in their educational success. For more information, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/desksforthekids.

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