Getting A Leg Up On Poverty

December 23, 1990|By Dianne Williams Hayes | Dianne Williams Hayes,Staff writer

They were legs like no other at Old Mill Senior.

At least that was the opinion of the majority of students who cast votes for the best "turkey legs" among their teachers by dropping coins into tennis ball cans.

However, once you meet social studies teacher Nadine Dow, you quickly learn that winning the contest that students say is "not chauvinistic" has more to do with her personality than her legs.

For the past six years, the Varsity Club at Old Mill has raised money to feed the hungry in the county by having students review pictures of legs and casting their vote for the best. This year 20 teachers participated.

But for Dow, helping others and having a good time is more the objective. In fact, it wasn't even her legs on the can. Instead, the borrowed physique of a female body builder with Dow's face attached drew laughs and earned $150 -- the most raised by any one teacher.

"Cheating is allowed as long as it's for a good cause," Dow said.

"Teachers were very creative with their photos."

But she is quick to point out that her "drumsticks" aren't all that bad either, as she rolled up her gray slacks.

"I would describe them as gorgeous," she said.

"The kids like the contest," she added, "because of the competitive spirit among their teachers."

The 21-year veteran teacher is no stranger to having attention drawn to her legs, after having won the contest six out of seven years.

Students raised $650 this year, and donated the money to the Department of Social Services' Holiday Sharing Program, which aids hungry families in the county.

"It's fun," said 17-year-old Jill Morgereth, a member of the Varsity Club. "It helps out others and it's a chance to have good fun. It gets students in the mood, and the teachers have a good time, too."

Pictures of the broad assortment of legs ran in the school's newspaper as a reminder for students to pick a pair.

When it came to raising money for the hungry, Dow and other teachers were not bashful about shaking cans in the school hallway, cafeteria or classroom -- wherever they found students with a spare nickel or dime.

"I think it's nice to help out needy people during the holidays," 17-year-old Christopher Windsor said. "I voted for Ms. Dow because she's really spirited."

But like most things, tight economic times meant students had less spare change. In previous years, as much as $1,200 was raised.

Biology teacher Randy Stevens, the Varsity Club sponsor, is quick to point out that his legs are "not too shabby" either -- though a bit pale, pulling up his pant legs to show off long lean hairy legs half-covered with bright yellow-and-red socks. His pair raised $80 in the contest.

"It's a fun way to raise money," Stevens said.

Stevens pauses to review Dow's legs.

"She exposed them for a good cause," he said with a smile.

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