Argonaut readers are accustomed to finding “Letters to the Editor” on this page. However, this week we are doing something a little different.

We recently received a flurry of identical envelopes from Wildwood School in Mar Vista, each containing an “op-ed” piece by a fifth grade student. An op-ed (opinion/ editorial) page typically contains opinions by guest writers, though I suspect most writers are usually a little older than these ten- and 11-year-olds.

Congratulations to their language arts teacher, Sara Simon, who came up with this assignment as an inventive way to expand her students’ writing abilities. Several of us on the staff were surprised by the maturity of the subject matter and writing style of these budding authors. Perhaps some of them are future Argonaut reporters. Check back sometime around 2024.

Carol Hector, Editor and publisher The Argonaut

We should have helped them already

Have you seen someone lying on the streets with all their worldly belongings next to them and imagined what it would be like to be homeless? I have, and it doesn’t seem fun.

Did you know that, on average, 3.5 million Americans will become homeless or that 12 million adults in the U.S. have been homeless at some time in their lives? This is scary, I know. That’s exactly why we need to help stop homelessness.

One reason we need to stop it is because when the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors surveyed 24 major cities, they found out that 22 percent of the homeless people are considered mentally ill. If we helped them they could stay in a special home and would be able to enjoy life just as we do.

A second reason is that 30 percent of homeless people in the 24 surveyed cities are substance (a dangerous drug) abusers. It could be very dangerous to be around them.

Lastly, in 2005, 169 homeless people were killed because of dangerous attacks. Who caused these dangerous attacks we don’t know, but if this continues to happen what will happen to us when there are sick and possibly even dead homeless people lying around. That’s even worse than just having homeless people on the streets.

There are many places you can go to, to help feed homeless people. You can go to Good Will or Salvation Army to donate clothes, toys, etc. Or you can even give money or food to a homeless person on the streets asking for food or money, but be careful because sometimes they will only ask for money so that they can buy drugs or alcohol.

Thousands of homeless people ask for help every day. Don’t you think we should have helped them already?

Xochitl Green, fifth grade, Wildwood School, Mar Vista

Think about the pound pooches

Can you believe that thousands of animals show up at pounds each month? Well, believe it. Pets are being kicked out of their homes because owners realize that taking care of a pet is more of a hassle than they thought.

When animals get loose, many dreadful things can happen to them. A lot of them starve or get sick, then die. Some get run over by cars. Others get taken into the pound.

This is why you should get animals from the pound. When people are looking for a new puppy or kitten, they usually go to pet stores. What they don’t know about pet stores is that a lot of the animals there have allergies or sicknesses. What they also don’t know is that the animals come from big buildings where all they do is breed cats and dogs just to make money.

But don’t worry. There’s something you can do to help prevent so many animals from showing up at pounds.

— When getting a new pet, always make sure you’re aware of the responsibility of taking care of a pet, knowing you’ll be able to take care of it for a long time.

— Always make sure you don’t let pets near the door when going out to make sure they don’t run loose.

— If you or someone you know is having a tough time with a pet, you can always call your local animal shelter for tips.

A tip about cats: If your cat gets loose, don’t worry. Oftentimes cats run outside for a day or two, but they usually find their way back home.

So, if getting a new pet is on your agenda, please think about getting one from the pound. A couple of reasons are:

— It costs a lot less than getting a pure-bred, champion dog.

— Second, if you don’t get them in a certain amount of time, they can be “put to sleep.”

— Also, the animals there have had less care, so they need more love and affection.

— Lastly, getting a pet from the pound shows that you care.

Abby Lee, fifth grade, Wildwood School, Mar Vista

Schools need better musical education

At a lot of schools, why do we have performing arts and visual arts, but still we don’t have music education? I think more students in the whole world would rather learn about music than most of the other common subjects. Some people can’t express themselves with performing arts or visual arts; they can only express themselves with music. Music is basically another language.

I think every school, either public or private, should have a music program to sign up for. I don’t want the faculty to force students, but I want there to be an opportunity for children to have another hobby and skill.

I am a guitar player and, after seven years, playing guitar is my favorite thing to do. I would recommend it to anybody because there is not one reason to not play guitar. Do you really think there should be all these classes like Spanish and art and there is still no music program?

Music can also help kids get scholarships. I know that every parent would want any way to get their child to get a college education.

Based on the facts, it seems like music can do so many thingsÖ and it can.

Milo Sussman, fifth grade, Wildwood School, Mar Vista

Stop global warming

Do you really want global warming to happen? Doesn’t it affect you, like it affects the millions of other animals on this planet? It doesn’t seem like much, but it is getting hotter everywhere every day.

Pollution and garbage build-up destroy the ozone, which is a layer of gas that protects us from the sun’s rays. The ozone layer only lets in a little bit of heat at a time. Pollution also builds up greenhouse gases that keep heat in. Without the ozone layer and with greenhouse gases building up, temperatures are getting extreme.

The Earth keeps heating up and it’s affecting millions of animals and places. You don’t feel it because the temperature change is so small. Even though it happens frequently it’s hard to feel.

It’s so sad that global warming is melting icebergs that have been around for millions of years. In doing that it has killed many animals that live there. Polar bears can’t swim far but they need to swim when they get food. Sometimes a polar bear will get stuck on an iceberg far away from land.

Global warming has also done many other things like evaporating rivers that animals need to drink from. Do you see? Global warming needs to stop!

If we help and don’t pollute we’d have clean water, clean air, more animals and would not have to survive extreme temperatures.

Brandon Tai, fifth grade,

Wildwood School, Mar Vista

Letter grades for schools without them

We got our report cards back. I couldn’t understand what I would improve on. Meets expectations? Exceeds expectations? Needs improvement? Why couldn’t my school just use letters and notes? Do you ever have that feeling?

People at my school have said, “I want letter grades here,” but they don’t take it seriously. Do you ever think that getting grades would push kids to see A’s on their report cards? That would definitely push me. Every year I hear people talking about it. Now, I’m taking it seriously.

Parents stand to benefit too. Annual school report cards will allow them to see their child’s work clearly. The director of the Education Trust, Kati Haycock, said “Letter grades are causing a sea change.”

It’s time to make a change; change letter grades into a common way of grading all over California. Getting grades would push kids to give that extra push from C’s to B’s and from B’s to A’s.

Think about kids pushing themselves, not other people pushing them.

Ian Hansen, fifth grade, Wildwood School, Mar Vista

This is not the beach!

I came to the beach to surf but I ended up not surfing. Instead I ended up picking tar. It was stuck to my feet like a barnacle on a rock.

I yelled to myself, “It’s the powerboat’s fault!” So all I’m trying to say is, if you’re going to go boating, sail. The reason is that the oil and gasoline from powerboats are going into our water and washing up on our shores. Marine animals are getting stuck in it and being killed, because it is so sticky.

Also, it does not smell good and it can sometimes be pretty toxic. It’s usually not good to breathe it in either. In a picture, I saw a kid surfing in a gas mask because of the bad air.

So if people would stop motorboating, everything would be back to normal.

Cooper Weitz, fifth grade, Wildwood School, Mar Vista

What if you had a cleft lip?

I get concerned about people who are born with birth defects and I think more surgery and studies should be performed in this area of science.

Sometimes they [people with birth defects] have a hard time doing specific activities because other people laugh at them. I do not think that such behavior should be allowed because it lowers one’s self-confidence. Everywhere around the world this happens to people who have birth defects.

One of the birth defects that a person can have is a cleft lip, a circumstance in which their lip is twisted and shows all their teeth and gums.

A lot of citizens do not have the money to pay for the surgery because they have low-paying jobs and live in poor places. I think people should start donating money to this cause because to help yourself, you need to help other people.

Operation Smile is one organization that helps study and fix this problem.

What if your daughter or son were born with [a cleft lip]? Well, before the baby is born, you can prevent your child from having a cleft lip because it sometimes runs in families. If you drink alcohol and use medical drugs, it can increase the possibilities of your child being born with a cleft lip. One out of 700 kids in the U.S. has this defect. If your child does have a cleft lip, you can get surgery for him or her, but it is best to get it early on.

Also, our military uses bullets made of depleted uranium that can cause birth defects if later on in their lives people have a baby. Even after the bullets have been fired, they can still be radioactive and cause birth defects. I do not think people should use these bombs and bullets too much or there will be numerous additional birth defects.

Adults who live near factories in the U.S. can also be affected by the chemicals in the air and water. It can ruin their body and their kids will probably have a higher chance of being born with a birth defect.

I hope the world changes and that people are born with fewer birth defects, but the only way for this to happen is if people stop drinking alcohol, taking drugs and avoid harmful chemicals when pregnant. Unfortunately, many adults do not refrain from these activities and so birth defects are bound to continue.

Henry Raimi, fifth grade, Wildwood School, Mar Vista

Letter to the Editor

Thanks Santa Monica police for finding his stolen car

To the Editor:

I would like to express my gratitude to two officers of the Santa Monica Police Department, Officer Olivia Marquez, Parking Enforcement, and Officer D. Ramirez, Traffic Division.

On April 21st, I left the Medical Building at 15th Street and Arizona Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. to go home, and to my astonishment my car was gone.

As I stared in bewilderment at the vacant spot, Officer Marquez drove by. She advised me to make a report at the police station. She then made the call that was very significant to me.

Officer Ramirez arrived almost immediately. I convinced her that my memory was still intact despite my old age. She then allowed me into the car and the search was on. Methodically, Officer Ramirez cruised the area. Finally, after about an hour, her keen eyes spotted my car.

A stolen car can be an enormous problem. How fortunate I was.

Thanks again, Officer Marquez and Officer Ramirez.

Ben Feldman, Venice