Schools' human relations efforts are theme of celebration


April 30, 1993|By Donna Weaver | Donna Weaver,Contributing writer

For Deale Elementary School student Robby Wade, word such as "horrible" and "lousy" no longer fit into his vocabulary.

Instead, it's "excellent," "cool," "terrific," "perfecto."

Using positive words is just one way Robby and other Deale students are improving their relationships with each other.

Treating others with respect instead of scorn "makes us better grown-ups," said Robby, 9, a third-grader.

Robby and students from 40 county schools participated

yesterday in the eighth annual Human Relations Fair at Magothy River Middle and Severn River Junior High schools. Students gathered to celebrate how they have worked to improve their schools and communities.

"The bottom line is we need to do everything we can to create an environment of learning in schools," said Eleanor M. Harris, fair chairwoman and administrative assistant to the county school superintendent. "It takes in more than just academics. It includes human relations programs, which help children to succeed. These programs teach children responsibility and how to work together and treat people right."

Added former Board of Education member Katherine K. Frantum, chairwoman of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools County-Wide Human Relations Advisory Committee, "If we don't learn respect for people and work together as youngsters, it's going to be very difficult to learn as adults."

Every school has human relations committees -- composed of teachers, students and community members -- that plan such programs as multicultural concerts and food drives for the poor.

The annual fair has been on hiatus since 1990 because the school board didn't have the cash for it. That's why Ms. Harris found sponsors for this year's event: the Countywide Human Relations Committee, the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce and The Sun.

She's glad she did. Tables were filled with photos and colorful drawings pushing the same theme: Hand in Hand We Work Together.

At the Deale Elementary School table stood three large pieces of cardboard filled with a large panda and color photos.

Robby and his friends explained how they had formed a Students Against Name Calling club to honor those who treat peers with respect. Members wear panda pins as badges of honor.

They even published a booklet, "25 Ways to Use Positive Language, Self-Image is the Key to Success," free to Deale students and fair patrons. Fifth-grader Michelle Weaver, 11, typed the booklet on her home computer.

Deale students also have donated food, scarves and hats to the homeless and have performed skits with anti-drug themes.

A few tables down, several Windsor Farm Elementary School second-graders were dressed in mid-19th century costumes.

All had starred in a play second-graders produced about Harriet Tubman, one of the most successful conductors on the Underground Railroad, a network of abolitionists that helped free thousands of slaves in the days before the Civil war. A television showed a videotape of the play, held in February in a school hallway.

Erika Fink was Harriet Tubman. The petite 7-year-old wore a red handkerchief and long skirt.

"I learned a lot about Harriet Tubman," she said. "She had a lot of courage."

A fellow actress, 7-year-old Adrienne Johnson, learned something else from the play. "It taught me that slaves should be free," she said.

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