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Class Project Brings Celebrities’ ‘Trash’ To Immigrant Children

December 19, 1986

KENNER, La. (AP) _ When Jenny Delgado asked U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy for some trash for a class project, he sent her a White House pen, a campaign pin and a tie tack.

″I started screaming, I was so happy,″ the 13-year-old said Friday.

Jenny, who moved from San Salvador to the New Orleans area 2 1/2 years ago, is among 28 young immigrants who asked celebrities for trash as a project for their class in English as a second language.

″Tonight Show″ host Johnny Carson sent a wadded-up thank-you note he had received from a Kentucky charity. Britain’s Princess Diana sent canceled stamps torn from a Buckingham Palace envelope.

President Reagan sent a book about the White House. Two children got copies of an official White House ″Summary of Vice Presidential Duties″ from Vice President George Bush.

Charles Schulz, creator of the ″Peanuts″ comic strip, sent a signed drawing of Snoopy lying on his dog house.

″It looks as if it came from the trash can. It’s all wadded up. It looks as if he pulled it out and just signed it,″ said Siri Regan, who teaches the class and dreamed up the assignment.

Kennedy, D-Mass., sent a pen from the administration of his brother, President John Kennedy, a campaign pin in the shape of the state of Massachusetts from Kennedy’s 1962 campaign and a Kennedy tie clip.

″I rummaged through an old box of junk and came up with a few old mementos,″ he wrote. ″I suppose the pen can be considered trash since it doesn’t work.″

Kenner Mayor Aaron Broussard sent the ″Blues Boy″ record he made two years ago with a car dealership owner.

″I am enclosing some records ... that were thought by some to be ‘trash.’ I leave that judgment to your class,″ he wrote.

The class is made up of seventh, eighth and ninth-grade immigrants at Theodore Roosevelt Middle School in Kenner. About half are from Central America; the rest are from all over the world, including Italy, Greece, Vietnam, Laos, Norway, China and India, Mrs. Regan said.

Two months ago, the students wrote to about 40 local and national figures, explaining the project and plans for a celebrity trash show in their classroom Dec. 18.

″We were practicing writing letters. The main problem is they get bored writing letters they don’t send anywhere, or just to their friends,″ said Mrs. Regan.

More than half the celebrities, including first lady Nancy Reagan, didn’t answer, Mrs. Regan said. Carson was the only television star who answered.

The trash sent by the 24 respondents was shown off on schedule Thursday.

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