School's brightest help the homeless

June 20, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

The gifted and talented class at Centennial Elementary School in Ellicott City saved the best for last.

On Friday, the last day of school for county students, the students ended a year-long project by presenting a $236.63 check to Health Care for the Homeless, a Baltimore-based agency that provides medical care and social services to homeless people throughout the state.

The class of fourth- and fifth-graders spent the year learning about homelessness, and students came up with a way to do their part.

They made a video about homelessness, featuring Health Care for the Homeless, showed it to their school and asked other students if they'd be willing to help by contributing a dollar or two.

Jackie Gaines, executive director of Health Care for the Homeless, said the money will be used to provide services and medication for clients.

"They're a very bright group of children, but of course their views reflected society's views, which are filled with misconceptions about who the homeless are," Ms. Gaines said.

"The kids came away with such a different view of the world and understood that a homeless person could be someone you know," she said. "They understand the societal causes of homelessness that many adults don't understand."

The class of 15 children began the year learning how to set up a business from Bill Greenhole, vice president of National Business Archives of Jessup, and Deborah Dwyer, a Columbia lawyer.

As part of their year-long business partnership with the school, Mr. Greenhole and Ms. Dwyer helped the students draw up the papers to establish a mock corporation called "Kid's Biz."

The class decided to make a video featuring Health Care for the Homeless to educate students about homelessness.

"They were much more dedicated and concerned about the project than I'd ever thought they'd be," Mr. Greenhole said. "I think they really tried to help from the heart."

The class visited Health Care for the Homeless headquarters in Baltimore, where students saw homelessness firsthand and shot videotape.

The six-minute video tries to dispel the notion that homeless people are all substance abusers and points out that the homeless population includes families and children.

Monterey Morell, the gifted and talented resource teacher who taught the class, said the children also learned that homelessness can happen anywhere.

"It was important for them to know that although Howard County is supposed to be a money county, there are homeless people here," she said.

Ms. Morell said that the fund-raising efforts for Health Care for the Homeless will continue next year at the elementary school, as well as at Burleigh Manor Middle School and Centennial High School.

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