Spring fair offers lessons in leadership and fun

NEIGHBORS

May 27, 2004|By Carole W. McShane | Carole W. McShane,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AS A lesson in leadership and social responsibility, the freshman class at Glenelg Country School threw a Spring Fun Fair this month for 28 students at Cedar Lane School, designing activities so everyone could participate.

Fourteen activity stations were set up for the May 14 fair on the playground of Cedar Lane in Columbia, which educates the county's most severely disabled students.

Ahnee Mitchell beat a drum brought by Ryan Kennedy at the Terrific Tunes station. Jenn Flagg and David Meyers made paper-plate tambourines for the Cedar Lane students to take home.

"I love it," said Regina Rice-Marshall, the aide assisting Ahnee. "The kids get to do sensory experiences, and they get a chance to socialize with their peers. It's wonderful."

At the Balloon Bonanza station, Glenelg students Kai McCray, Ned Collins Chase and Jemelle Williams tied brightly colored balloons into animal shapes. Cedar Lane student Timmy Darden, assisted by volunteer Bob Heaton, chose an orange dachshund-shaped balloon to take home.

Briana Zidek and Alison Hong, assisted by teachers Lisa Miller and Gail Schimel, made colorful pictures at the Sponge Painting table, staffed by Vishal Agrawal and Will Woods. At the Duck Pond station, Molly Olsen giggled and smiled when Greer Huffman and Erin Meegan showed her several brightly colored rubber ducks.

For Cedar Lane children whose disabilities prevented them from participating, the Glenelg students provided solutions.

At the Funtastik Bowling station, Sarah Lichenstein and Angela Manglitz helped Cedar Lane students knock down gaily decorated bowling pins. For children who could not move their arms, Sarah and Angela became their "pinch bowlers," giving the ball a gentle tap to start it rolling down a raised ramp. Everyone was a winner at the fair.

This year's Spring Fun Fair was organized as part of Glenelg Country School's Civic Leadership Program, taught in ninth grade by Jessica McAdams. Directed by teacher David Weeks, the program serves grades nine through 12. Its goal is to develop leadership skills and promote awareness of the students' social responsibilities.

In March, a leadership team of 12 students was chosen to oversee the logistics of the Cedar Lane project. After doing research to learn about children with special needs, all 59 ninth-graders visited Cedar Lane School.

"We met with some of the teachers and ... with the principal," said team member Erica Esposito. "We were with the students while they were eating at lunchtime, and we saw the different types of ways they learn, compared to the way we learn."

The Glenelg students returned to school to brainstorm about the best types of activities for the fair.

"We put our best ideas together and were assigned to stations," Jenny Moling said. "I think it's good. It's fun, and it's worth it. After all the work, you get to see how much the kids enjoy it."

Lauren McGlothlin explained how the students planned the "aMAZEing" activity station. It was lined with decorative bright yellow and green palm trees and jungle animals.

"We tried to make the activities fun and a little challenging for them," she said. "We made the maze for the kids that are able to walk. We know they are interested in colors and shapes, so we tried to center everything toward that."

For the first two years, the fair was held on the campus of Glenelg Country School, with children bused from Cedar Lane. But because of budget constraints this year, adequate transportation could not be provided for the Cedar Lane children, so the Glenelg students took the fair to Cedar Lane.

"This is amazing!" said Nicholas Girardi, principal of Cedar Lane. "They came over, looked at the area, saw what they had to work with and designed the fair based on the area. It was just unbelievable - their ability to accommodate over here."

To help defray the additional costs of transporting fair equipment - and the Glenelg students - to Cedar Lane, the Sophomore Leadership Team at Glenelg held a movie matinee for lower- and middle-school students on the afternoon of May 14. They raised $250.

After the fair, the Glenelg Country School students evaluated their efforts through discussion and by writing essays. This week, an ice cream party is planned to celebrate a job well done.

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