Telephone Pioneers Book 'Em

Youngsters star in book about their lives


Maggie Clayton and Carole White, members of the Zane Grey chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America, carried boxes of books into two kindergarten classes at Julia Randall Elementary School earlier this month.

The women were quickly surrounded by students who would get personalized books entitled, "I Like Me."

The books are about each student and two of his or her friends and the information was gathered at the end of the last school year from surveys filled out by parents.

"It's very important for them to have their best friends in the book," White said.

The student's teacher, principal and school are also identified in the story.

Once the surveys were filled out, the Zane Grey club, like Telephone Pioneers across the country, sent the information to the publisher, Kindergartners Count of Topeka, Kan.

Last Friday, students in Wendy Waggoner's kindergarten class at JRE, were busy putting the finishing touches on their "turkey hats." They had taken the books home and many had read them over and over.

Colton Needles, Sarah Barnish, Dakota Greenwade and Katie McCordy liked the books because they had their friends' names in them.

"I like the part when it says 'Shane and Matt,' " Dakota said. "Shane is my cousin."

Katie liked the part where her friends, Laurie and Samantha, were mentioned.

Tyler Aguirre's favorite part in the book was when it mentioned Mrs. Waggoner's name.

"I like it when it says I can read," said Sarah Cluff.

Shortly after the children got the books, the fourth-grade students came in and read them to the class. "They read them their stories for the first time," Waggoner said. "It was just great -- the older ones helped the younger ones."

"I like it when it says I like myself," said Kayley Hughes.

So far this year, local Telephone Pioneers of America have donated 217 books to Payson students. The club plans to give more books to students in the area.

The local group, which was formed in 1981, currently has 75 members who have fund-raisers throughout the year for books, scholarships and other educational projects.

The club paid $5 for each book. The rest of the cost -- $2 --was subsidized by US West. White said the organization has given the books to Payson students for two years and plans to continue its efforts.

"This year, the club has even included Tonto Basin, Tonto Village and Young in their program," Clayton said. "School staffs have been very pleased with the books and their content."

"Almost anything involved with schools and educational materials, we're a part of somewhere," White said.

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