Book campaign nets thousands of gifts for Highlandtown school without library Pupils in Frederick Co. deliver reading material

November 24, 1998|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Every Saturday for four years, Katherine Zito has walked to a branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and checked out lesson-enhancing books for her first-grade class at Highlandtown Elementary No. 237.

The teacher didn't have a choice because Highlandtown Elementary, which has 340 pupils in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, doesn't have a library. It was lost several years ago when the school's basement, where the books were relocated to make room for another classroom, was flooded.

With a recent outpouring of donations from around the state, including a gift yesterday of more than 6,300 books from a Frederick County school, Highlandtown Elementary's book supply is growing, threatening to make Zito's library trips history.

"People have been unbelievably generous," Zito said. "When the books get organized, it will be fabulous."

Highlandtown Elementary's Parent-Teacher Organization started a book campaign in August. The school has received more than 8,000 books, 15 computers, shelves and more than $1,000 in donations, said Maria Brooks, PTO president. The target is 12,000 books, if a library is created.

Vanessa Pyatt, a spokeswoman for Baltimore City Public Schools, said she was not aware of any immediate plans to construct a library there.

Tana Paddock, an organizer for the South East Community Organization, said, "The temporary goal is to just get books into the school."

Boxes and crates full of books have been stored in Room 100, which will soon become a classroom. Volunteers are organizing the books by grade levels and dispersing them accordingly, said Violetta Neal-Leonard, the school's assistant principal.

"At one time, we had boxes stacked up to the ceiling," Neal-Leonard said. "We've had at least 10 organizations and 20 individuals donate books."

Windsor Knolls Middle School in Frederick County added to the pile yesterday, bringing more than 60 boxes via a borrowed 25-foot truck, said Windsor teacher Jack Patterson.

Windsor's seventh-graders started a book drive for Highlandtown after reading about the school's needs in The Sun September, Patterson said. "They were really surprised and worried that the kids didn't have a library," he said.

Many Windsor pupils and faculty, as well as community members, brought in old childhood favorites from home, said Principal Donna Faith. "I thought we'd get a couple boxes of books, but we got thousands," Faith said.

While the books were wheeled off the truck, three Windsor pupils read aloud to some classes. Seventh-grader Andrew Ramsey shared one of his favorites -- "Curious George" -- with two second-grade classes.

"I just thought it would be really neat to come to the school," Ramsey said. "I like helping people."

Pub Date: 11/24/98

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