Meade units lend a hand, give material to schools

January 21, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The National Security Agency is donating everything from old computers to file cabinets, and other units at Fort Meade are offering their time and energy for the post's Adopt A School program.

"We at Fort Meade have the resources available," said Col. Kent D. Menser, the garrison commander, who announced the program yesterday at a lunch for school principals and military leaders.

"All of us have to work together to help our schools be what they ought to be," said Colonel Menser, who helped create the program through Meade 2000, his extensive community outreach plan.

Under the program, military units at Fort Meade are to pick a school in the Meade Senior High School feeder system and help with everything from setting up computer labs to donating time for mentor programs, career seminars and counseling.

Some outfits already have started their projects.

The Navy Security Group, for example, has worked for years with the Manor View Elementary School, a county school on base where 90 percent of the students come from military families.

Master Chief Dean Momburg, commander of the Navy group, said many of the students are considered at risk because they come from one-parent homes.

The mentor program, which offers one-on-one counseling, gives the young students a role model, he said.

Eleven members of the Navy security group volunteer their time. An additional 50 have signed up for the extended Adopt a School program.

At Jessup and Van Bokkelen elementary schools, the mentor program also has been a success.

"Many of the kids are not able to see a male figure or role model other than myself," said Preston Hebron, principal of Jessup. "The soldiers do an excellent job."

Mr. Hebron said volunteers help at school as well as take the students to ballgames and movies on weekends.

"I've got kids who come up to me and say, 'When can I get a mentor, when can I get a mentor?' " said Charles Owens, principal of Van Bokkelen.

But the mentor program is just one part of the overall mission of Meade Schools 2000.

Mr. Hebron said he is working with the National Security Agency to set up a computer lab at his school. And Craig Reynolds, an assistant principal at Meade High, is looking forward to receiving the extra file cabinets the military has stocked away in storage rooms.

"NSA is cleaning house," he said. And he is ready to take advantage of it.

"We're already starting to use a lot of the military's assets," Mr. Reynolds said.

And next year, he said his school plans to work with military police to start the first Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program designed for high school students in the area.

Yesterday, Colonel Menser told the principals that the base is willing to help out in any way possible and encouraged active dialogue.

"When things are going good or things are going bad, there still should be talk," he said. "If you have a better idea on how to execute something, tell us. We want to do all we can for your youth and their families."

Lt. Col. William Sondervan, the base provost marshal, or police chief, told the audience that a former unit of his adopted an Alexandria, Va., elementary school.

"When they put on a play or a pageant, all they wanted was for people to come out and see it," he said. "That meant a lot to the kids."

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