Day school students collect books for city elementaries Sixth-graders find calling in short story

March 15, 1998|By Jenny Huddleston | Jenny Huddleston,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Early last month, Sandie Nagel's sixth-graders read "The Scribe," a short story by Kristin Hunter about illiteracy in the inner city. The Krieger-Schechter Day School students were moved.

From that short story bloomed a book drive producing more than 6,500 books for Baltimore children.

The last week in February, 13 Krieger-Schechter sixth-graders boarded their "Book-mo-bus" to distribute about half the books to three city schools: Arundel, Carter G. Woodson and Tench Tilghman elementaries.

The remaining books will be given in the next few weeks to John Eager Howard, Belmont and Rognel Heights elementaries.

"They decided to clean off their shelves" and give away their outgrown treasures, said Nagel, who has taught at the Jewish day school in Stevenson for four years.

Krieger-Schechter is one of several suburban schools that recently have donated books to their counterparts in Baltimore.

In February, fifth-grader Jessica Rennenkampf of Jeffers Hill Elementary in Columbia collected 2,380 works that were distributed to Baltimore children.

The woodwind ensemble at Glenwood Middle School, also in Howard County, collected 13,000 new volumes for Harlem Park Elementary.

At Krieger-Schechter, Nagel's class had planned to collect 1,800 books in honor of "chai," the Hebrew word that means both "life" and the number 18. The school quickly surpassed that, gathering 2,200 books by day two.

Gordon's Booksellers offered dollar gift certificates to students who donated books. The school sweetened the deal with an ice cream party for the class contributing the most.

"The whole school was crazed," said Nagel. Her students split up to cover each class at the school, preschool through eighth grade.

The highlight was when the students delivered the books.

"The kids were really happy to get the books," said Sarina Meshulam, 11.

Among the most coveted works were "Babysitters Club" novels and books on such topics as dinosaurs and Ninja Turtles.

And of course, "they loved the 'Goosebumps,' " said 11-year-old Brian Meltzer from Krieger-Schechter.

Arundel Elementary received more than a dozen boxes of books, said Julie Rink, a second-grade teacher there. She said many of the books the school owns are tattered. "But they love to read, so the more books the better," said Rink.

At Tench Tilghman, fourth-grade teacher Bill Pittard told his 34 students someone was delivering a surprise.

"I saw some mouths kind of drop as they kept bringing in more boxes," he said.

Nagel said Krieger-Schechter students' "dream is that other schools will pick up on" the book-drive concept.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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