Phoenix House Student Wins the Million Word Challenge to Attend the L.A. Festival of Books

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Million Words Challenge of Families in Schools at Phoenix HouseIn February 2012, a local non-profit, Families in Schools, organized a reading competition for students enrolled in Los Angeles area schools. The student who would read the most during the period February 24 to April 6, 2012, would win a $50 gift certificate to spend at the Los Angeles Festival of Books (April 21-22 at the University of Southern California), or at Target, a major sponsor of the Festival.

We are extremely pleased to announce that “Diana” – a current student at our residential drug treatment program, Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles – won the First Prize in the competition for our school.  Two second prizes of $25 were also awarded and the teacher from the winning school (on-site high school managed by the Los Angeles Office of Education) got treats for her classroom.

The winners received a letter from Families in Schools to claim her gift card at the booth for the Million Words Challenge  at the Los Angeles Festival of Books.  She could then spend it right there, on USC campus, while attending a variety of readings and activities at the Book Festival, or go to a Target Bookstore at a later date.

Jonathan Whitfield, M.D., the Academy’s staff psychiatrist specializing in child addictions, made the following comment: “She’s a bright girl.  I lent her my book by Thomas Szasz, Ideology and Insanity:  Essays on the Psychiatric Dehumanization of Man. Phoenix House Academy Awards poster from March 2012She picked it out from my shelf herself and read the whole book.” Monica D. Lang, MA, LMFT, Chief Clinical Specialist and Residential Services Director at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles said: “I loaned her my copy of Viktor Frankl’s  Man’s Search for Meaning and was the most impressed with her grasp of the theory and practical applications.”

Tony Fratanonio, Phoenix House Academy counselor serving as  a liason between our drug treatment staff and teachers at the on-site high school, commented: “Our residents are capable of so many amazing things! We all congratulate “Diana” for her achievement!  Thank you Ms. Avognon for inspiring our residents to love to read.  You truly are for the kids!!”  Los Angeles Times Book Festival Logo

For those who missed our previous posts, Ms. Florence Avognon isthe California Teacher of The Year, who recently received numerous honors and recognitions for her selfless dedication to her students.  Her work has resulted in the success of our resident and we are extremely grateful for that.  Together with Mr. Fratantonio, other teachers and staff at the Academy they previously recognized the teens’ successes and progress at school with the Phoenix Academy Awards Ceremony, held in March 2012 – and complete with the Oscars…

The Million Word Challenge Booth is located in the Target Children’s Zone at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC), at the intersection of Exposition Blvd and South Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90089. The Festival takes place this weekend, April 21 and 22, 2012.

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