Community helps Winston senior realize goal

On the fast track to college, 18-year-old Jake Campbell has overcome auditory processing challenges to excel at The Winston School but after attending the school for seven years became dangerously close to losing the opportunity to graduate until the Del Mar community stepped in.

Campbell has attended the college preparatory program for students with learning differences since the sixth grade but the economy had taken its toll on the family income making it challenging to pay the second semester tuition of $6,000. Upon learning of the Campbell’s plight, the school’s headmaster Mike Peterson immediately turned to the community for help.

In a few days he recruited one of the school’s board members Linda Pinney to help and, between the two, secured the money needed to keep Campbell in school.

“Our students have learning differences so moving them to a public school setting is not an option. We teach students in a way they can learn not make them learn in a way we want to teach,” Peterson said. “Jake is a shining example of what students can accomplish in spite of or because of their learning difference and we are grateful the community ensured he could graduate with his class this spring.”

Peterson’s first call was to the local Optimist Club, of which he is a member. The club supports youth programs and sponsors a public speaking contest that the Winston School students often win. The club voted to increase the usual $500 scholarship to $1,000.

Optimist Club President Charles Pease said, “We’ve been involved with The Winston School for a number of years. Our relationship began when we approached the school to be a part of our oratorical contest and we met Mike in the process. When he approached us for the scholarship we immediately said yes. We see tremendous value in the school, plus we’re all about helping kids in the community. This was a perfect fit.”

Pinney, who has served on The Winston School board for 12 years, tapped family funds as well as her friends at the Del Mar Dog Park, which is located on the school grounds. She said her father had given the school $2,000, which they earmarked for Campbell and then, with the help of her friend and dog park regular Gale Darling, raised $3,600 more for the scholarship.

“I became involved with the school because it was so generous for them to let us use their grounds as a dog park,” Pinney said. The scholarship, which is informally called “The Del Mar Dog Park Scholarship Fund,” started when Pinney and fellow dog owner Mike Kimball wanted to thank the school by making donations. “We like to choose something different every year and when raising the money, it’s nice to have a specific purpose rather than something general. This time everyone wanted to rally around Jake when they found out about the risk of him not being able to finish school with his peers after six years.”

To canvass the dog park, Pinney recruited long-time dog park visitor Darling who has been a park regular for more than 12 years. Darling, who has earned the unofficial title of dog park “steward” also owns the garden design company “Why Not Darling” and has been involved with the city to start using non-pesticide herbicides on the school’s field.

Even Darling agrees she was a good choice to help raise money. “I boss everyone around at the park,” she laughed. “Over the years we have done small fundraisers to help the school and when Mike gave me a letter explaining the situation and providing details about the school we knew we could find the money. The school has been very generous to us and we never want to take their space for granted. This is our way to say thank you.”

Campbell said he is grateful for the opportunity to continue at the school that has made it possible for him to attend college and pursue his dream of working in sports marketing. “I’ve really benefited from attending Winston,” he said. “When I enrolled in Winston my class size was reduced from 30 to 10. The one-on-one attention has made all the difference for me.” He added that his plans include attending Menlo College in Mira Costa and cited his former teacher and coach Darren Kelly as instrumental in preparing him for “the real world.”

Related posts:

  1. Actor Ed Asner to speak at Winston School
  2. Winston students shine in summer show
  3. Winston School pitches in for holiday meals
  4. The Winston School presents ‘Alice in Wonderland’
  5. Actor visits DM to raise autism awareness

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