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A number of Yolo Middle School yearbook students sold yearbook advertisements which raised funds for TOSCA. The project raised more than $4,200 for the scholarship organization this year. Students who sold the ads and Yolo staff recently presented a ceremonial check to Bernice Arnett, TOSCA vice president. In front, from left, are student Sophia Machado, Arnett, students Samantha Mendoza, Bella Waggle and Yahaida Bernal, and yearbook advisor Brandi Decator. In back, from left, are students Ashlynn Meadows and Ezekiel Brown, Principal Michelle Smith, Assistant Principal Alexia Waggle, Account Technician Zenaida Ledezma and student Audrey Roadland. Not pictured is student Ariel Medina.

NEWMAN - A group of Yolo Middle School yearbook students raised over $4,200 for The Orestimba Scholarship Community Association (TOSCA) by selling congratulatory spots honoring eighth-graders in the 2020-21 edition.

The campaign to support TOSCA is not new, explained yearbook advisor Brandi Decator, but the response this year was particularly phenomenal.

In their five years of selling advertisements to salute eighth-graders, Decator told Mattos Newspapers, yearbook students have raised more than $10,000 for the scholarship organization.

“We have averaged $2,500 a year, but this year it bumped up,” she stated. “This year we have raised the most money of all the years.”

Decator said volunteers from the grades 7/8 yearbook class placed calls to more than 250 eighth-grade parents pitching the advertising program. Nearly 80 purchased an advertisement, known as “student shout-outs,” which includes a photo of the graduating eighth-grader with a congratulatory message. The ads are a special gesture this year in particular because of the pandemic-related challenges students have endured, Decator noted.

“I am thankful for the community,” Decator commented. “They supported their students as well as the scholarship fund. We are all in this and we need to work together.”

Decator said the TOSCA ad program started when she became yearbook advisor and consulted with then-Principal Eva Luna and Superintendent Randy Fillpot on “how we could really come together and support the community. We sat down and came up with an idea that was a ‘win’ for everybody.”

Susan Mattos, TOSCA treasurer, said the donation will be placed in an endowment from which $500 will be distributed each year as named Yolo yearbook scholarships until the fund is exhausted.

“We could not be more appreciative of this donation,” Mattos stated. “These students took the initiative with this project and made it a remarkable success. Their donation will help TOSCA achieve its mission of providing meaningful scholarships which help Orestimba graduates pursue their higher education. They are to be commended.”

For Decator, the yearbook project reflects a fundamental tenet.

“We love to give back to the community,” she stated.

Decator said the yearbook staff, led by Editor-in-Chief Jormel Ocampo, is producing a commemorative edition in light of the pandemic which has kept students out of the classroom through most of the school year.

Principal Michelle Smith also expressed appreciation for those who have supported the students and TOSCA.

“We are so proud of the hard work of our students in yearbook. We can’t thank our families enough for their generous support of the TOSCA program and all that it offers our students,” Smith commented. “This yearbook has been an amazing accomplishment, especially when we have been in distance learning for a majority of the school year. The students and staff have worked tirelessly to create a book that would commemorate this extraordinary year and proudly continue to support the TOSCA program.”