Smooth sailing to fundraising

Students at two schools are using creativity to help the Special Olympics, arts programs

Education Beat

October 09, 2005|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Fifteen-year-old Patrick, a student at Marley Glen School, plays soccer in the Special Olympics.

"I had to quit goalie because I broke my finger," he said, holding up his hand to show the injured digit, which was taped to a small splint.

But Patrick's injury has not curbed his enthusiasm for Maryland Special Olympics. On Friday, he was one of about two dozen students who began decorating a model of a skipjack, a project intended to benefit the Maryland Special Olympics and arts programs in Anne Arundel County schools.

The Sailing into the Arts program, started this year by the development office for county schools, is similar to the program that put artist-decorated crabs in Baltimore and fancy cows in Chicago.

In this case, the skipjacks will be decorated by students, not professional artists, and the money will benefit the school system.

The first skipjack was sponsored by Special Olympics Maryland and will be decorated by students from the Marley Glen School and Ruth Parker Eason School. Both schools serve students ages 3 to 21 with special needs.

The boat will have a Polar Bear Plunge theme to highlight the annual January event at Sandy Point that raises money for the Special Olympics.

"This is a terrific project," said Paulette Tanoue, principal of Ruth Eason.

On Friday, officials from both schools, Special Olympics Maryland, the state police - which sponsors the plunge - and the county school system were at Marley Glen to talk to the kids about the project and start it.

Linda Skreptack, associate development officer with the county schools, said 15 skipjacks - one for each Arundel high school, plus three for special centers - will be sponsored at $2,500 each. About half have found sponsors, she said, while the others still need sponsorship.

The skipjacks, designed and built by Cotton Thomas, a local boatbuilder, cost $2,200 each to make, she said. The additional $300 pays for art supplies to decorate it.

The skipjacks weigh 100 pounds and are 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall. The sails actually move, she said.

The decorated skipjacks will be displayed where the sponsor chooses until spring, when they will be auctioned off. Profits from the auction will benefit arts programs in county schools.

"All the money that's raised is going to our arts curriculum," Skreptack said.

Bob Leib, chief of staff for county schools, said the skipjack was chosen because it "is so unique to the Chesapeake."

He said the project, in addition to raising money, "is going to show the talent and depth of talent of the kids in our schools."

Officials from the Special Olympics requested a Polar Bear Plunge theme to showcase the annual event, a major fundraiser for Special Olympics.

"I think it will bring a lot of awareness to ... the school and the Special Olympics and the Polar Bear Plunge," said Patricia Krebs, president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics Maryland.

Sally Haertel, art teacher for both schools, has come up with a plan that will allow the students to color and create designs that will be decoupaged onto the skipjack. Students will also paint directly onto the model, she said.

Decorating will be split between Marley Glen and Ruth Eason. The whole thing has to be finished by Jan. 28, the day of the 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge. Kelley Wallace, a spokeswoman for Special Olympics Maryland, said the skipjack will be on display at the event, where it is expected to be signed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and other plunge participants. Then the skipjack will be auctioned.

The students at Friday's event were chosen because they are involved in Special Olympics. Chelsea, 13, is a cheerleader, and Vincent, 14, plays golf.

Shea, 11, bowls. Asked what was good about Special Olympics, Shea replied: "I am."

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