Hundreds of pen-pal letters sent by students at Winfield Elementary School during the past few months did not have to travel far to have a great impact on their recipients.
These letters have been delivered to 143 students at Mount Airy Elementary, who will transfer to the newly renovated and expanded Winfield school in September because of a boundary adjustment.
The idea for the pen-pal program blossomed from the efforts of a transition committee of five Winfield parents and five Mount Airy parents, said Winfield principal Raymond Mathias.
Names of students being transferred were given to team leaders at Winfield, who found volunteers to write their Mount Airy pen pals and "tell them about the school and make them feel welcome," said Mr. Mathias.
"The letters are great. The kids put [in] a lot of good things," he said, adding that they've had a "real warming effect" on students from both schools.
The pen-pal program will culminate today with a picnic at Winfield Elementary where the correspondents will get to meet, chat and eat lunch together. Leading the efforts for the picnic have been Winfield parents Kathy Hamblet and Lynette Lenz and Mount Airy parents Michelle Kantruss and Laura Murphy.
The new Winfield students, who will be accompanied to the pen-pal picnic by two Mount Airy teachers and 16 parents, will also tour the school and meet its teachers and staff, said Mr. Mathias.
Finishing touches are now being added to Winfield Elementary's two-year renovation and expansion with work expected to be completed by early August, said the principal. If improvements to Salem Bottom Road are completed as anticipated, a dedication of the "new" school will be held in October, he added.
Mr. Mathias added that he gives "special thanks" for the %J cooperation and support he has received during the past two years. "I couldn't have a better group of people -- faculty, staff, parents and children -- and I want Mount Airy parents to know that I have a warm and caring staff that have the interests of the kids foremost in their efforts."
A "farewell picnic" for Mount Airy Elementary students who have been redistricted to Winfield will be held at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Watkins Park on Route 27 in Mount Airy.
This is a drop-in style picnic which is being sponsored by the Mount Airy Elementary School Parent Teacher Association. The PTA will provide drinks and paper products at the event, as well as entertainment and a small memento for each child who will go to Winfield.
All families of children who currently attend Mount Airy Elementary are invited. Each family should bring their own family's picnic foods plus a casserole, salad or dessert to share. The rain date is Sunday (same times), and if it rains at that time, other arrangements will be made.
This is a busy weekend for members of Mount Airy Elementary's Parent Teacher Association, who will also hold a retirement celebration for school principal Althea Miller.
The adults-only event will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the school. Parents of Mount Airy Elementary School students, past and present, are invited to the celebration as well as members of the community.
Because of space limitations, parents are asked to leave children at home. Mount Airy Elementary students held a surprise retirement celebration for Mrs. Miller in May.
A dedicated group of youngsters would like you to stop by their red brick church in Mount Airy on Thursday and give a donation "from your heart."
Members of the St. James Episcopal Church youth group have '' been phoning area blood donors to encourage participation in Mount Airy's Annual Summer Blood Drive, to be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the church, 204 N. Main St.
Janice Wolcott, who has been chairman of the Mount Airy Summer Blood Drives since they started in 1984, wants to encourage everyone who can donate blood to give the gift of life.
"One unit helps four different people," said Mrs. Wolcott, who works as a registered nurse in pediatrics at Frederick Memorial Hospital.
St. James church started the summer blood drives because it recognized that there is never a vacation from blood needs. This week, the Red Cross reported a particular need for Type O blood, both positive and negative.
Mrs. Wolcott said the Red Cross is honoring appointment times to help donors with busy schedules. Donors are encouraged to call St. James church's office at 301-829-0325 to schedule an appointment Thursday. Walk-in donors are also in demand.
Mount Airy Recreation Council will hold two sessions of its popular Summer Playground this July at Mount Airy Elementary School.
Organized for younger children (those who will enter kindergarten in the fall to those who have completed second grade), the playground will feature a variety of activities including crafts, songs, games and local field trips.
Playground hours will be 9 a.m. to noon, with Session I from July 6 to 16 and Session II from July 19 to 30. The cost will be $30 per child. The deadline for registration is July 1.
Parents with more than one eligible child should ask about special rates. To register or for information, call Pam Medairy at (301) 829-9418 or Jean Pickett at (410) 795-9547.