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From left, Jennifer Reach, Cassie Smith and Colleen Beers talk about the Books of Hope project.

WALTON _ Children in Uganda will soon be reading books composed and illustrated by Walton Central School students.

The yearlong project ended last week when 80 books were mailed to students in Uganda through the Books of Hope program.

Art teacher Lara Fassler discovered the Books of Hope program at a New York State Art Teachers Association conference.

Fassler's seventh-grade art class produced a book titled "Learning the Colors with our Creatures." Each of the students concocted a creature and wrote a story featuring colors.

"It was awesome," Colleen Beers, 13, said as she held a clay model of her magical horse, Appy. "It was a lot of fun and I didn't want to stop. It felt good that kids would look at our books and feel good."

Stephanie Morgan, 13, drew the cover for the book and contributed a creature named Flash. Flash is mostly turtle, part bird and his tail is part leopard.

"Flash lives in a sky of beautiful rainbows, with the clouds," Stephanie wrote. "Each color means something to flash." Each page of the book includes information and questions about colors.

Stephanie's question was, "Do you know what order the colors are in a rainbow."

The students also included information about themselves and hope to receive responses from the Ugandan students who receive the books.

"This wonderful project opens students up to global issues and allows them to express their compassion with creativity," Fassler said.

"Seventeen Walton teachers from the elementary, middle and high schools had their students participate and we ended up sending 80 beautifully created books," Fassler said. "We were also able to send a donation of $100 due to the kindness of teacher Christina Hewitt and students involved in her Crazy Career Club' fundraising activity. Some students were so impassioned they made two or three books to send."

Makenna Rowe, 13, created a mermaid that was part angel. She said she wanted the "kids in Uganda to know that there are people that care."

Shane Hammond, 12, contributed to an art class book with his scaly creature named Gutzilla and worked on an alphabet book in English class.

"I did O' for ox and M' for mongoose," Shane said. "It was fun."

Katlyn Gerow, 12, developed a fairy named Star, that lives in the sky next to the North Star.

"(Star's) favorite color is blue because blue stands for peace, tranquility, calm, stability, harmony, trust, truth, confidence, order and loyalty," Katlyn wrote.

Fassler said the project was so inspiring, it will be repeated next year.

"We had to raise $150 to pay for the postage," Fassler said. "So we will begin working on a fundraiser."

In addition to the books, a banner bearing the handprint of every student involved in the project and a photo of the group holding the banner was sent along with the books.

Fassler said she hopes other schools will get involved in the project.

More information is available at www.booksofhope.com.

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