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Sonoma County students taking part in 'We Day' (w/video)

Hundreds of Sonoma County students are scheduled to spend the day in Oakland among a long list of celebrities and inspirational speakers as part of an all-day event meant to both encourage and reward good deeds and community activism.

Students from nine Sonoma County schools will join upward of 20,000 fellow middle and high school students in Oracle Arena for “We Day,” one of 11 all-day events across North America and London hosted by Free the Children, a Canada-based charity that encourages students to engage both locally and globally.

“I think it's great. You get to be around people who also love and do the same things you do to help the community and the world,” said Slater Middle School eighth-grader Elise Benton. “It looks really fun. I can't wait.”

In addition to Slater, students from Santa Rosa Middle, Roseland Accelerated Middle, Windsor High, Arts and Ethics Academy, Journey High, Archbishop Hanna High, St. Eugene's and St. Vincent de Paul High, are expected to attend.

Wednesday marks the first time the all-day event has been held in California. The lineup of speakers and performers includes Magic Johnson, Orlando Bloom and Selena Gomez.

What sets “We Day” apart from other star-studded events is the threshold for entry — there are no tickets, just invitations. The event is free, but schools and students must be invited based on applications outlining acts of community service both local and global.

“I think it makes it more meaningful,” said Santa Rosa Middle School leadership teacher Debra LaPrath. “You can't buy a ticket; you have to earn your way.”

Santa Rosa Middle School earned 100 tickets to see Johnson, Bloom and Gomez as well as Seth Rogen, Martin Sheen, Martin Luther King III and a long list of others by raising more than $14,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as funds for school construction in Kenya through Free the Children.

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