Third graders purchase brick in Taft Oilworker Monument


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Taft Primary School’s third graders are going to be a part of history.



Students in two classes decided they wanted to buy a brick in the Oilworker Monument that will be dedicated later this year.



So students in Sally Johnson's and Linda Hannum's classes collected enough plastic bottles and aluminum cans to recycle and earn the money to buy a memorial to be placed in the monument.



When the monument is erected and dedicated in October, the bricks will be a part of the Benjamin Victor sculpture dedicated to the community and oil industry.



Vic Killingsworth, who conceived of the idea and chairs the committee developing and funding the monument, went to the school on Wednesday to congratulate the students.



“It started as a small idea. It grew and got bigger and better,” Killingsworth told the children. “You young people have helped make it bigger and better. You can see how you get things done when you work together.”



The monument will be dedicated on Oct. 15 during the opening of Taft’s 100th birthday party.



“This is our town, our history,” Johnson told the students. “You just made history by buying that brick.”



The children also brought home a lesson for the entire community – bricks aren’t just for people that worked in the oilfields, but for anyone that was a part of the community.



“When you live in Taft, it’s like a big family,” Killingsworth said.



Even the sculptor is a part of that family. Victor is a Taft native.



“This sculptor was born in Taft. He’s one of us,” Killingsworth said.



Johnson said the children had collected recyclables to fund a trip to the California Living Museum and were looking for another project.



During story time, the Oilworker Monument idea came up and the students fell in love with the idea of buying a brick and becoming part of the monument.



The project started in March.



“They got right behind it,” Johnson said. “They started recycling the next. Before, it took a long time to raise money.”



The students even took a cue from the Oilworker Monument Committee and used a model of a thermometer to show how much money they were raising.



The students will have grown a little by the time the monument is dedicated and can point with pride to their accomplishment when it is dedicated.



“When you are in fourth grade, you can go up to it and say ‘That’s my brick,’” Johnson told the students. “Even when you grow up, if you move away you can come back and that brick will still be there.”



It’s not too late to buy a brick or plaque that will be placed in the monument when it is dedicated. To be ensured of that, bricks and plaques must be purchased by June 1. They will still be available after that, but may not be part of the monument by dedication.



Contact the Taft Chamber of Commerce office, 765-2165 or go to the monument website at taftofwmonument.org to donate or for more information.



Here is a list of the students who took part in the project:



Alexis Vanpelt



Allison Sellers



Allyson Houghton



Austin Ellis



Austin Terry



Barry Heimiller



Braden Houghton



Brady Hopkins



Brendan Manuz



Bryan Ordonez



German Mejia



Gloria Zacarias



Hailey Bergeron



Hannah Cox



Jacklyn Jones



Jasmine Williams



Jose Campos



Josh Green



Lucy Caudle



Luis Silva



Makayla Waldrop



Michael Campbell



Oscar Cervantes



Payton DeRevere



Peter Saltiban



River Houle



Allex Garcia



Andrew Robertson



Aubre Blagg



Brian Rivera



Bradley James



Jade Magillan



Cielo Woggn



Crystal Bradley



Deira Alcantar



Emily Woods



Francisco Galvez



Issac Barajas



Kayla Poplin



John Connick



Nichole Lankford



Karen Ortega



Jacob Dowell



Kloie Malone



Leo Terry



Elizabeth Coffman



Luis Moncada



Manny Montes



Trevor Heath



Zoey Brown



Lorelei Zadworny