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SUMMER CAMP CAMPAIGN

Fifth-grader's dream is to teach that grade one day

Michael is shy about speaking in front of the class, but he feels he can overcome that -- and camp will help.

July 07, 2006|Melissa Pamer | Times Staff Writer

When Michael Moore's fifth-grade teacher handed out permission slips for students to apply for a week at summer science camp, the Compton 10-year-old rushed home to ask his mom if he could go.

After some consideration, Lisa Action, Michael's mother, told him yes. Michael hasn't stopped talking about it since, Action says.

"I really want to go hiking, sightseeing, see animals, go fishing and see the stars through a telescope," says Michael, whose deep bashfulness falls away when asked about camp.

Michael's favorite subject in school is science, but his mom and stepfather, Daryl Action, say that Michael gets easily bored when school isn't academically rigorous enough. They want to transfer him to a school in the Valley or San Pedro when he enters sixth grade next fall.

"He's gifted," Daryl Action says. "But when he's the brightest in the class, he chooses not to do the work."

Michael's parents worry that their shy son will be lost in a sea of students if he goes to Enterprise Middle School in Compton next year. Reports of violence at local schools have made them especially nervous.

As for Michael, when asked where he'd like to go to school next semester, he responds, "San Francisco," to the amusement of his mother.

"How are you going to get there?" she asks, laughing.

Michael shrugs, saying that his teacher showed him pictures of the City by the Bay, which he found beautiful. He says it's a goal of his to go there at some point.

This summer, he won't get to go quite that far north, but he'll enjoy the cool breezes of the San Bernardino Mountains at the Los Angeles County Education Foundation's science camp. It's an opportunity for Michael to be challenged intellectually in an environment where it's cool to be smart.

Michael says he wants to teach fifth grade when he grows up. He's still a bit nervous about talking in front of the class, but he's starting to get the hang of it.

Michael won second prize for his delivery of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech in a school contest during Black History Month this year.

He says he often recites Scripture at Sunday services at New Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church, where Daryl Action has been minister for about 20 years.

Michael also sings in the choir at church, but he's too shy to sing alone. He might just find the confidence this summer.

About 10,000 children will go to camp this summer, thanks to $1.6 million raised last year.

The annual fundraising campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, which this year will match the first $1.1 million in contributions at 50 cents on the dollar.

Donations are tax-deductible. For more information, call (213) 237-5771. To make donations by credit card, go to latimes.com/summercamp.

To send checks, use the attached coupon. Do not send cash.

Unless requested otherwise, gifts of $50 or more will be acknowledged in The Times.

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