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 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