Seuss fan sees the need to read
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent December 13, 2013 3:18PM
Paulina Martinez, a senior at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, is a big advocate of childhood literacy. | Supplied photo
Updated: January 17, 2014 6:11AM
Those looking for gift ideas for the children in their lives should consider getting them books.
Just ask Paulina Martinez.
Reading is vital to success in later years, say the students at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, especially Martinez, a senior.
Come March, it’s a safe bet that Martinez, 18, will be reading “The Cat in the Hat” or “Green Eggs and Ham,” two Dr. Seuss classics, to local children.
As a National Honor Society member, Martinez helped collect more than 5,000 used books for children in Cook County School District 130 last year. Then, as part of an annual NHS event, they commemorated Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2 by distributing the books to local schoolchildren.
Martinez was among the students who were involved in the event, and she had the opportunity to read Seuss classics to kindergartners at Greenwood School in Blue Island.
“I enjoyed the little kids walking in and being so surprised and happy they were receiving a book,” Martinez said. “I’m in high school and you’re usually not excited about getting a book. You’re not jumping for joy, and these little kids were.
“They were so excited to be getting a book they could read,” Martinez said. “Dr. Seuss is known for children’s books and I enjoyed reading them Dr. Seuss, which is so popular with that age.”
Martinez does plenty of reading on her own. She recently was named an Advanced Placement Scholar and also has received Honors with Distinction, the highest academic honor awarded to high school students in Community High School District 218.
She also has earned multiple awards as a member of the speech team.
“Speech is my favorite activity because you get to know a lot of kids. We go against Shepard, Downers Grove South and other schools,” Martinez said. “We get up at 5 a.m. to compete against each other, and you get to bond with kids from different high schools. It is competitive but you get to share an experience with them.”
Martinez knows plenty about competition. She’s also captain of the varsity girls tennis team.
Martinez, who resides in Alsip, is the daughter of Maria Gallegos and Antonio Martinez.
She said her mentors include her former Spanish teacher at Eisenhower, Michelle Alfano, and her speech coach, Serena Ranftl.
“Ms. Alfano told me to try new things and she was inspirational. She herself had lived in Europe. She left Eisenhower last year to go to Colombia to teach kids how to speak English,” Martinez said.
“Ms. Ranftl inspired me to push my boundaries in speech,” she said.
Next year, Martinez would like to pursue a career as a journalist.
“Ms. Alfano told me to take newspaper last year. I learned how to write articles, meet new people and ask questions,” Martinez said.
In fact, Alfano encouraged Martinez to attend the Illinois Press Association Journalism Camp at Eastern Illinois University for two weeks over the past summer.
“I learned there’s a story everywhere. I learned to trust your instincts and find a story within a story,” she said.
Eastern Illinois University tops her list of schools for next year, alongside Southern Illinois University and the University of Missouri.
“I do have relatives who have gone to college but most haven’t really finished it, so I want to be an inspiration for them,” Martinez said. “I want to prove it is possible to get a college degree and be an inspiration to the younger members of my family.”