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Alden-Hebron fifth-graders encourage driver's ed students to become organ donors

Alden-Hebron fifth-grader Emma Klein, 9, and other students in Holly Latas' class present information on organ donation to driver's ed students from Alden-Hebron High School.
Alden-Hebron fifth-grader Emma Klein, 9, and other students in Holly Latas' class present information on organ donation to driver's ed students from Alden-Hebron High School.

HEBRON – Eighteen people die every day waiting for an organ transplant.

That statistic disturbed students at Alden-Hebron Elementary School so much that they dedicated their most recent service learning project to organ donation, and Tuesday they gave a presentation to Alden-Hebron driver’s education students about the benefits of being an organ donor.

Holly Latas’ fifth-grade students spent four weeks researching the facts about organ donation, talking to experts and practicing their presentation before delivering their findings to the high school students Tuesday.

“I think from day one they came in with an open mind, a clean slate,” Latas said. “From that point on, we were able to dig deeper with them and fill their brains with all this knowledge. They really took off with it. By the end of the first day, we stepped back and they were fully engaged and doing their own thing.”

More than 119,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant, and one organ donor can save up to eight lives, according to organdonor.gov, the site the students used for the majority of their research. The service learning project incorporated technology, research and public speaking skills, providing the students with a well-rounded learning experience, Latas said.

“I believe it ties in to culturally responsible teaching,” Latas said. “Getting the students aware of what’s going on outside of their lives or their world.”

Media specialist Colleen Geils worked closely with the students on the service learning project and said the students learned a great deal about what it takes to give a strong presentation.

“From YouTube clips, we’ve shown them, ‘Here’s a poor presentation, here’s a good presentation. What do you notice about this?’ ” Geils said. “The kids are self-motivated. I’m seeing that.”

The fifth-graders plan to present the information again to the school board, and they have been in contact with staff members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison about delivering the presentation to college students.

“They were very eager from the get-go to start this,” Latas said. “I feel like toward the end, now they’re like, ‘Where can we go further? What can we do next to extend this if we could?’ ”

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