What was a dream two months ago became a reality May 4, as a new science room was dedicated at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary School in Sun Valley.The entire student body gathered on the playground under sunny blue skies to watch fourth grader Rudy Escobedo cut the ribbon to the classroom, renovated by volunteer workers from DIRECTV’s facility in Sylmar. Escobedo’s father, a DIRECTV supervisor, had recommended Holy Rosary as a possible community project site for his company.

“We wanted to do something in our local community, and we thought this school was a great opportunity for us,” said Michael Harris, Sylmar site manager. “We had about 30 guys coming on volunteer time to renovate the room and make it safe and usable for science.”

“We always dreamed to have a science room, but there was no way for us to be able to do something like that,” said Servants of the Blessed Sacrament Sister Remedios Aguilar, principal at OLHR, where 75 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

DIRECTV provided both materials and labor to turn an empty classroom with a leaky ceiling into a designated science lab with a sink and a 42-inch flat screen TV to access educational channels. According to Harris, everybody at DIRECTV’s Sylmar site contributed money for the renovation project, which began in March. 

“They never gave us a budget; they said ‘What do you want?’” noted the principal, who drew up a wish list of items that included new linoleum flooring, new window blinds and new paint. As work commenced, the volunteers noticed the ceiling was in bad shape, and they decided to replace that as well.

“The students are really excited that they’re going to get more ‘hands-on’ learning,” said Mary Helen Powell, junior high science teacher. Students will now have their classes in the science lab instead of in their regular classroom. Children in grades K-5 will also have the option of using the new lab.

“We want to prepare our students for the future,” added Sister Aguilar. “We want to move them to STEM --- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” 

“This new lab will definitely make a difference in the education of all the students at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary,” said student council president Jamie Arambulo, before the ribbon cutting ceremony where students gave “thank-you” cards to DIRECTV workers on hand for the occasion.

Speaking on behalf of the volunteers, wearing blue T-shirts imprinted with the words “Give Back,” Harris said the community project at OLHR gave participants “the chance to see the next scientists, the next engineers, maybe even the next astronaut from this community and this school.”

“I think it’s not just by coincidence that your colors are blue and white and our colors are blue and white,” pointed out Scalabrinian Father Richard Zanotti, pastor. “We’ll adopt you as Crusaders (OLHR’s mascot) as well.” Following the ribbon cutting, he said a special blessing and then sprinkled holy water around the new science room. 

“I think it will be better because it seems a lot roomier and we can do more science experiments and help us to understand more what we do in a science classroom,” said Ximena Kacer, seventh grader.

“I’m very thankful for this room and I think it will help a lot because the TV can help us watch channels like the Discovery Channel where we can learn more about endangered animals because of global warming,” said Vanessa Albarran, seventh grader.

“I feel good giving back --- it’s like a ‘thank-you’ to the teachers for teaching our kids,” said Luis Solorio, a former pipe fitter who installed the sink.

“I think this room will be a great asset to the school; even if we don’t get to use it, the younger kids will get to use it,” said Jason Sibrian, eighth grader and school science fair winner for his “isolating copper” project. “There’s more opportunity to learn in this setting.”

Fellow eighth grader and science fair project partner, Jaylene Castro, commented: “I think this room will be really good for our future scientists of tomorrow. There’s more materials and more space so we’re able to use our potential more.”

“I think the science room will really help the younger grades, since it has more room in it, the students can use more space so that way not all the experiments are cluttered up and they can study more about how everything works,” said Desiree Rangel, eighth grader and OLHR science fair winner. “I think it’s really cool.”

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