All wrapped up in math

Lesson: Hereford Middle School pupils use a holiday gift service fund-raiser to learn about measurements and how to operate a business.

December 23, 2003|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

With all the work that teachers have to do these days, who has time for wrapping holiday presents?

Pupils in a special-education class at Hereford Middle School in Monkton are pitching in to help staff members out -- for a price.

They have formed their own "company," complete with elected officers and are offering their wrapping services for 50 cents to $3 a box, depending on size.

As 12-year-old Dana Zentz explains, the job is not as easy as it sounds.

"We are using our math skills to measure, find the volume and the surface area of the gifts," the sixth-grader wrote in an e-mail to The Sun.

She was writing because, as promotions director for Norris Wrappers, named after teacher Keith Norris, Dana set a goal of getting her class in the newspaper.

"We are learning how to add and subtract money and make change," Dana continued.

"The treasurer keeps track of the total money that we have earned. Our writing skills have improved by creating flyers and advertisements. We are working on organizational skills by tracking and keeping records of all the gifts."

Dana and her friend Meagan Murphy, 12, also read ads for the company over the public address system each morning.

Before Norris Wrappers opened for business in Room C-5 on Dec. 8, pupils had to complete applications for different positions and go through a job interview with their teacher. The class then elected company officers.

Yesterday, the dozen pupils in Norris's class topped their goal of raising $100. Andrew Cimino, 11, reported that his treasury, a large brown envelope, contained $110.50 by mid-afternoon.

And rumor had it that the seventh-grade guidance counselor would be by with more gifts today, the last day of business -- and school -- before winter break.

The class has wrapped nearly 70 presents so far, and, "we haven't lost a package yet, knock on wood," Norris said.

The pupils will use the fruits of their labor to throw themselves a pizza party this afternoon, and to replenish their class fund for the groceries they bought for a Thanksgiving dinner.

To determine the cost of wrapping a box, students must calculate its volume and area and crunch those numbers to get the square footage.

Pupils in the measuring department yesterday poured over their calculators before sending the boxes and corresponding paperwork to the wrapping department, which selected appropriate paper based on the age and gender of the gift's recipient.

Once a box was wrapped, the delivery department got to work. Robert Tracey and Travis Miller, both 12, brought two boxes to the office of their best customer, Principal Cathy Walrod. One was wrapped in gold paper; the other had a Santa pattern.

The cost for both: $3. Walrod handed them $5. As the boys walked back to class, Robert whispered to Travis, "I'm not sure if that was a tip."

Fourteen-year-old Ashley Harding, an eighth-grader and Norris Wrappers' vice president, said the experience has been educational. "Before I just thought you stick the wrapping paper on there and you're done," she said.

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