Pupils leave their mark

Baltimore fifth-graders organize club to improve east-side elementary

June 11, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

As the school year winds down, a spirited group of fifth-graders from East Baltimore's Tench Tilghman Elementary has made sure it won't soon be forgotten.

Since February, eight pupils and their teacher have undertaken three projects to improve their elementary school in the 600 block of N. Patterson Park Ave.

Calling themselves the Legacy Club, the pupils have written letters to the school board asking for more classroom space, decorated the boys' and girls' bathrooms and, this weekend, they will finish fixing up their playground.

"When we leave to graduate, we want the whole school to remember us," said Jaleesa Snyder, a member of Legacy Club.

Snyder's teacher, Kristina Berdan, said her pupils were enthusiastic about tackling the projects.

"They are very dedicated when there's something they want to do," Berdan said. "So I'm not surprised by their hard work, but others might be."

First, the pupils polled faculty and staff about the school's needs. More space, cleaner bathrooms and a better playground ranked highest.

After writing letters to the school board requesting portable classrooms, the pupils tackled the bathrooms.

They spent several Friday evenings last month cleaning and painting fictional characters and sports slogans on the wall.

"They've shown a lot of responsibility and willingness to keep the school clean," said Principal Elizabeth Turner.

On Saturday, the pupils and helpers from the Southeast Teen Academy cleaned the park across the street from the school, planted flowers, bordered trees with railroad ties, put down mulch and painted playground equipment.

"There was lots of bottles, cups, trash bags and worms," said Shaneira Evans, pointing her oversized black gloves toward a plot of dirt.

The playground cleanup was funded by a $760 grant from Youth As Resources, a nonprofit group that provides funding for city projects. Clearing House for a Healthy Community, an East Baltimore nonprofit health care organization, supplied paints and brushes.

Glenn Ross, Clearing House's executive director, said the supplies were from his group's health fair last month. "It rained on our fair, so we're donating our stuff to this project."

Wilson Williams, who lives across from the park in the 2300 block of McElderry St., was so impressed with the pupils' work that he offered to help water the flowers this summer.

"I think what they are doing is great," Williams said. "I'm glad to see someone doing something."

Pub Date: 6/11/99

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