Published June 24th, 2009
Bar Mitzvah Project Offers Hope to Richmond School
By Jennifer Wake
Corey Plotkin stands next to teacher JG Larochette, with his students, and Coronado principal Linda Cohen (far right) Photo provided

Despite Coronado Elementary School's recent academic achievements, and even before the recent economic downturn, the Richmond school's budget was cut several times and the school struggled to survive. A Bar Mitzvah project by Lafayette seventh grader, Corey Plotkin, offered hope.
Plotkin heard about the school through Temple Isaiah, which has had a long relationship with Coronado, sending volunteers to tutor students there for the past ten years. His father contacted Coronado's principal, Linda Cohen, who sent a list of what the school desperately needed: pens, pencils, and basic sports equipment for the kids to play with during recess and after school.
A letter outlining his project as well as a request for donations was included in Plotkin's Bar Mitzvah invitation. "The response was overwhelming," said Plotkin's father, Norman.
On a bright morning in May, after loading his parents' van with supplies including pencils, markers, paper, post-its, Kleenex, portfolios, glue sticks, sports equipment like soccer balls, volleyballs and basketballs, as well as a significant portion of the money he had received from friends and family, Plotkin set out for the elementary school.
Not only was Plotkin able to meet many students in classrooms, the principal introduced him to the Coronado students at a special assembly.
"The Principal explained what Corey had done. The principal, teachers, and kids were very appreciative," Plotkin's father said. "The kids were especially excited by the sports balls, colored pencils, and markers. Corey was touched by the kids' enthusiasm for the things that he and his peers take for granted."
During classroom visits, Cohen told students how Plotkin was a role model and connected his effort to the school's own project to raise money for kids in Kenya through a reading program.
"The Coronado students raised $1,500 for orphans in Shisasari, Kenya," Plotkin's father said. "One of the teachers, J.G. Larochette, gave a rousing talk about the cycle of giving and how every a penny makes a difference. The dedication of the principal and the teaching staff is amazing and inspiring."
Although Coronado is in a lower socio-economic area, its students continue to succeed. They have the third highest test scores in math and science in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, according to Cohen.
As for Corey, the seventh grader plans to continue his relationship with Coronado School. Plotkin, his older brother, and several of their friends will begin tutoring Coronado students at the Richmond library starting today.
If anybody would like to donate school supplies, Plotkin can arrange to have them picked up and delivered to the school. Email guzuguzu@sbcglobal.net.

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