September 28, 2004
Grateful to Hudson Elementary School for teaching his son — and him — to speak English, Hector Medina wanted to give back.
"When we came here from Mexico, we didn’t speak English at all. They taught him and he taught me," Medina said of son Alan, 9. "In a way, I am saying thank you."
Medina and his fourmember family moved to Arizona from Mexico three years ago in hopes of giving his two sons better opportunities, he said. He lived near the Tempe school before moving to Chandler earlier this year.
In gratitude, the architect did what he does best: He spent the summer designing a storefront and main street — a painted one, that is, meant to bring to life a student store at Hudson used to reward good behavior.
Medina painted a red brick exterior over what had been a plain gray wall with a sliding teal door. He painted a store window filled with toys.
Across the "road," or hallway, a children’s museum featured a smiling cartoon face and a library stood regal.
The idea was to attract more kids into wanting to earn "Hawk Bucks’’ that they can use to purchase toys, books and games at the Hawk Buck Store.
Students earn the bucks for wearing the school colors red and gold, or clothes with the school mascot, a hawk. They also get rewarded for doing their homework, being quiet when asked and almost anything a teacher determines to be a good character education assignment for individual students.
Mark Kennedy, one of the school’s PTO co-presidents, said the store’s merchandise was also upgraded with larger prizes such as CD players. Students can learn the value of saving as they try to earn prizes that cost 100 Hawk Bucks, he said.
"It teaches them a little about shopping," said Molly Gill, a mother who runs the store every Friday.
The store has actually been around 13 years, and is funded by the PTO, which provides about $2,000 in prizes a year for students to earn, from notebooks to books.
Students came and went on Friday — most choosing erasers and gummy hands that are $2.50 each in Hawk Bucks — but others who eyed the big prizes saved their green paper dollars.
"If you listen, or do your homework, you can get stuff," said Daniel Munoz, 11. "I’m saving up for a CD player."