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Sonoma County students taking part in 'We Day' (w/video)

In addition to Slater, students from Santa Rosa Middle, Roseland Accelerated Middle, Windsor High, Arts and Ethics Academy, Journey High, Archbishop Hanna High, St. Eugene's and St. Vincent de Paul High, are expected to attend.

Wednesday marks the first time the all-day event has been held in California. The lineup of speakers and performers includes Magic Johnson, Orlando Bloom and Selena Gomez.

What sets "We Day" apart from other star-studded events is the threshold for entry — there are no tickets, just invitations. The event is free, but schools and students must be invited based on applications outlining acts of community service both local and global.

"I think it makes it more meaningful," said Santa Rosa Middle School leadership teacher Debra LaPrath. "You can't buy a ticket; you have to earn your way."

Santa Rosa Middle School earned 100 tickets to see Johnson, Bloom and Gomez as well as Seth Rogen, Martin Sheen, Martin Luther King III and a long list of others by raising more than $14,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as funds for school construction in Kenya through Free the Children.

Slater Middle School will send 70 students and teachers to the event, where leadership teacher Sandi Martin said the Spartans will be one of 10 schools with special seating. The students will be honored for their efforts on behalf of Free the Children.

Spartans raised $15,000 and qualified for an additional $5,000 grant to build a secondary girls school in Oleleshwa, Kenya. Free the Children founder Craig Keilburger sent a video message of thanks that was shown at an all-school assembly last winter.

"We are really proud of our kids and what we have done here," Martin said. "For us, it's not just about money, it's about raising awareness."

To that end, Slater science teachers created lessons on water and bacteria, English teachers encouraged students to keep journals on what life would be like without many modern amenities students take for granted, and physical education teachers had students walk a mile carrying a gallon of water.

"If they know why they are doing it and their heart is in it, it just works so much better," Martin said.


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