Wilde Lake students help elementary children


March 25, 1998|By Kathy Curtis | Kathy Curtis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AS THE controversy rages at Wilde Lake High School over supervised study, one group of students is using the flexible schedule to help children at two nearby elementary schools.

Members of Wilde Lake's National Honor Society meet at least once a week with students at Bryant Woods and Running Brook elementary schools in a Big Brother/Big Sister program that began in January last year.

"It's such a great feeling," said Rachael Miles, 17, a Wilde Lake senior who coordinates the program.

"When I walk in, I see my child's face light up," she said. "Both of us are benefiting from the program. I'm going there, I'm helping a child. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I'm making a difference in his life."

The program began at Bryant Woods, where 12 Wilde Lake students, including Rachael, meet one-on-one with third- , fourth- and fifth-graders.

Sometimes the teen-agers sit with the younger students in their classrooms and help them with their work. At other times, they take the youngsters out of class to spend extra time on problem areas.

"Our staff loves to see them come in," said John Hammett, assistant principal at Bryant Woods. "They are very respectful. It's not an interruption."

Many of the teen-agers visit more than once a week and spend time with their Little Brothers and Sisters away from school.

Each month, the group sponsors an organized outing, such as driving through the Symphony of Lights or bowling.

"They really build a wonderful bond," Hammett said. "The children beam when their Big Brother or Sister shows up because they think, 'Here is someone who came here just for me.' "

He said that seeing the teen-agers return week after week

throughout the school year makes a statement to the younger children about commitment.

The program has been so successful that in January the Wilde Lake students expanded it to Running Brook Elementary, where another 12 honor society members meet regularly with students who need help.

Rachael said several of the teen-agers are fluent in Spanish, which is useful at Running Brook because the school has a large number of Spanish-speaking students.

Laura Hirshfield, 16, a junior, isn't assigned to an elementary student, but works closely with her in organizing the program at both schools, Rachael said.

"She helps me with phone calls," Rachael said. "She helps me with innovative ideas; she helps me find funding for the %o program."

Besides Rachael, other Wilde Lake students volunteering at Bryant Woods are Laura Cannon, Assmaa El Haggan, Elizabeth Johnson, Erika Lewis, Chris Matheson, Monica Modi, Shelia Mohammadzadeh, Matt Shapiro, Michelle Smith, Emily Tan and John Wynn.

Volunteering at Running Brook are Aaron Altscher, Laura Cathcart, Yael Eskinazi, Reeny Harkness, Klara Jenkins, Jill Kissel, Erin Lane, Katie Lamp, Ari Laric, Ana Maria Lopez, Kristen McDonald and Tobias Thornwell.

Readers reap reward

An advance copy of a new book by children's author Rodman Philbrick has been added to the media center at Wilde Lake Middle School, thanks to the efforts of two sixth-grade reading classes.

Last month, after students in Marcia Boonshaft's Gifted and Talented reading classes read Philbrick's novel, "Freak the Mighty," they set out to entice the author to visit the school.

The students knew that Philbrick, who lives in Florida, was scheduled to speak at a conference on reading this month in Towson.

Every day for a week, the students sent Philbrick e-mail messages in the style of the classic Burma-Shave roadside ads.

Working in class and after school, they completed two videos, a comic strip and a sequel based on the novel.

They also designed trading cards based on the characters, made posters and recorded the book on tape.

They mailed the items to Philbrick in a pyramid-shaped box similar to one described in the book.

Tom Miller, a specialist in the Gifted and Talented program, assisted with the project.

Philbrick did not accept the invitation to visit the school, but he sent the students a personal letter and an autographed picture, along with a copy of his new book, "Max the Mighty," which is due out next month.

Students to aid hungry

Wilde Lake High School students will be among the performers tonight at "Lake Aid," a talent show to raise funds for the Maryland Food Bank -- a nonprofit organization in Baltimore that distributes food and other items to groups that serve the hungry.

The show, sponsored by the Wilde Lake Student Government, will be held from 6: 30 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m. at the Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at the school.

Admission is $4; $3 with the donation of a nonperishable food item. Tickets will be sold at the door.

Wilde Lake senior Sue Hartman is chairwoman for the event.

Wilde Lake junior D. J. Carter will serve as master of ceremonies.

Entertainment will include several bands, as well as rap numbers, a jazz quartet, a poetry reading and a yo-yo exhibition.

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