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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | Countywide

Teens Gain Understanding With AIDS Quilt Project

April 22, 1998|VANESSA DeRUYTER

When Lee McLaughlin decided students in her health class needed a better understanding about AIDS, she put their artistic abilities to work crafting panels for the national AIDS Memorial Quilt.

What she didn't realize was how effective the project would be for the Placentia teens, leading them on a memorial to friends, loved ones--even strangers--lost to the disease.

"It feels good to help educate and get the word out," McLaughlin said of the project, which makes El Camino Real High School the first in Orange County to add to the national quilt.

"[Making the quilts] is the culminating activity that brings everything I teach to a full circle."

Students were placed into groups, which designed and painted the quilt panels.

The completed panels were handed Tuesday to a representative of the Orange County NAMES Project Foundation, which will add each panel to the national quilt in Washington.

Some groups dedicated their panels to someone they knew while others made theirs in memory of AIDS patients in general.

Senior Mark Valdivia, 18, had his group make a panel in memory of his uncle, whose suffering and ultimate death from AIDS in 1995 made him reflect on life.

"AIDS is serious, it ain't a joke," he said to his peers. "One night of pleasure isn't worth the pain."

The student-made panels will be officially dedicated into the national quilt at the Queen Mary on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The panels will be displayed at the Queen Mary until Sunday.

Information: (562) 491-9184.

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