Schools celebrate 30 years by helping Red Cross


November 30, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HAMMOND Elementary School and Hammond Middle School celebrated their 30th birthdays this month. But there were no cakes, no streamers or balloons. Instead, the conjoined schools marked the occasion by making a generous donation to the American Red Cross.

Judith Bland, principal at the elementary school, said the school community wanted to reach out in some way after the Sept. 11 tragedies. Both schools agreed that it would be fitting to commemorate their 30-year anniversaries by holding a fund-raiser that would involve schoolchildren, parents, school staff and the community.

Bland said the theme of the fund-raiser reflects the age of the schools. "This is our 30-year celebration, so we asked people to give in denominations of three," she said.

In a letter to the school community, the staff solicited gifts "such as $3, $30, $300, etc." Children were encouraged to put 30 cents of their own money into collection jars in the classrooms "so that each child may feel the pride of contributing his or her own money as American Citizens," the letter read.

The fund drive lasted - you guessed it - 30 school days. And the yield was staggering. More than $16,000 was collected for the charity.

On Nov. 15, the schools held a presentation. Space did not allow all 1,258 elementary and middle school pupils to be there, but each grade was represented.

"We counted every 30th child to participate in the program," Bland said.

After welcoming remarks from Bland and middle school Principal James Pope, Red Cross representatives Richard Wolfe and Michelle Hansen showed slides of rescue workers in New York City and explained how the community's money would help. Also attending were Marie DeAngelis, coordinator of elementary programs in Howard County, and Patricia Tidgewell, director of elementary schools, who told the children she was impressed with how they "joined together" in the effort.

Bland said fifth-grader McKenzie Stough was instrumental in organizing the event. Her father, Dennis, is a board member of the Red Cross.

McKenzie and fifth-graders Nick Donohue, Jasmine Aried-Nejad, Elizabeth Savopoulas and eighth-grader Shannon Tolliver read short essays explaining why they donated money to the Red Cross. Third-grader Matthew DeLong and first-grader Lisa Satchell joined them to present an oversized poster of a check to Wolfe and Hansen.

"I can promise you that all this money will go toward helping the victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy," Wolfe told the children. "I promise you that, 100 percent."

A punting we will go

Fourth-grader Alexandra Vega kicked her way into PSI Net Stadium - literally. The Fulton Elementary School youth competed in the Punt, Pass and Kick contest sponsored by the NFL and Gatorade at the Ravens' home field Nov. 18.

Alexandra began by winning first place at her school in the 8- and 9-year-old category in September. She went on to win the sectional competition Oct. 21 at the Westminster YMCA. That victory won her a spot on the field for a championship competition held just before the Ravens' game against the Cleveland Browns.

Fulton physical education teachers Robert Talbert and Brian Vanisko are proud of the "athletically gifted" Alexandra, who placed second in her age group.

"She was just 1 foot short of winning," said Talbert, who captured the action on videotape. He replayed it on the school's closed-circuit television the next day for all to see.

Gift alternatives

If you're tired of buying the same old foot massagers and electric razors for those on your holiday list, here are some alternatives. The Columbia Art Center's fine arts and craft show and sale, called Singular Sensations, runs Dec. 6 through 16. There you'll find unique gifts created by area artisans, including North Laurel residents Ron Holmberg, a potter, and his wife, Shawnnee Holmberg, who makes Japanese braided jewelry.

A free opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday. Information: 410-730-0075.

The Savage Holiday Gift and Craft Show at Carroll Baldwin Hall will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. A sale of live wreaths hand-decorated by Charla Long and Betsy Beachum, both of Savage, will be featured tomorrow. Proceeds from the wreath sale will benefit the Savage cemetery.

Parting words

For Irene Voneiff, secretary at Bollman Bridge Elementary School, decorations are not what puts her in the holiday spirit.

"Music really gets me in the mood" for the holidays, Voneiff said.

She has been a church choir singer for 18 years, so she gets a head start on the holidays.

"We begin rehearsing our Christmas music in early November," the North Laurel resident said. "By the time Advent begins, I'm already in the mood."

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