Area students lend their helping hands to aid those in need

EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

Education Beat

December 25, 2005|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV

They've saved their milk money, raided their pantries and come up with different schemes. In the spirit of charitable giving, students in Howard County have done what it takes to make this holiday season a happy one for others.

At Glenelg High School, several students worked on separate donation projects.

Shannon Jones, a 15-year-old sophomore, organized a gift drive for Hurricane Katrina victims.

"I was really thrilled; everyone was really supportive," said Shannon, a member of the student government. "I know a lot of people wanted to help out but they did not have an outlet to help out."

Shannon, who organized the effort through her independent research class, formed a contact with Bayou Woods Elementary School in Slidell, La., an area that was ravaged by the hurricane. She then matched families at the school with families in the Glenelg area. More than 85 Howard County families prepared Christmas boxes for 78 families in Louisiana.

Last Sunday, more than 100 boxes were shipped to the affected families. Shannon used money from a sophomore fundraiser to pay for the moving truck.

"Shannon is one of the most incredible women I've ever met," said principal Karl Schindler. "Many adults would have quit a long time ago. It's just incredible that she got this project up and running."

Charlie Ashcraft, the gifted and talented resource teacher and coordinator of Shannon's independent research class, said Shannon has logged 120 hours of independent work - which is about the amount most students have completed by the end of the year. Students are required to log 125 hours of work for the class.

"There are some students that I have to push along," Ashcraft said. "Not Shannon. I don't know many adults who could pull something together in this time period."

The hard work has not affected her grades - last quarter Shannon earned a 4.0 grade-point average.

"I guess I just do what I need to do, and I prioritize," she said.

Shannon is already looking ahead at another drive in the spring.

Middle-schoolers help

At Clarksville Middle School students have just wrapped up a successful Hurricane Katrina disaster relief campaign that collected more than $12,000 and 3,000 pounds of food.

"It's a very generous community all around," said principal JoAnn Hutchens. "It is very touching to see how many people are willing to give."

Each year the school holds a canned food drive to benefit the Maryland Food Bank. But this year the students wanted the goods to go to the victims of Katrina, Hutchens said.

The school held a Harvest Fest on Nov. 11, in which classes held games to raise money. One parent donated pizza to sell. Students also collected money and canned goods during lunch periods and at other school-related events.

The students raised a little more than $6,000. An anonymous parent matched what the kids raised.

The money went to the American Red Cross and the food went to the Maryland Food Bank in the name of the Hurricane Katrina victims.

"It was one of our most successful food drives," said Barbara Scheetz, an eighth-grade math teacher and organizer. Scheetz said there is talk of holding another food drive in the spring for the Howard County Food Bank.

Wishes come true

Another student at Glenelg High School, Madison Schiner, has started to collect money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Her goal is to raise $1,000.

She has hung up posters, made announcements on her school's public address system and distributed fliers to teachers and students. The 16-year-old senior also has challenged classes to raise the most money and win a prize. So far, she's raised $250.

Ruth Drucker, a guidance counselor, has helped Madison.

"Maddie came to me with a proposal; I was very impressed with her initiative," Drucker said. "This foundation does a marvelous job. Its mission is wonderful."

Madison also hopes that snack sales at parent-teacher conference night in February and at basketball games will bring in more funds.

"In her very quiet way she was able to do something," said Schindler, the principal. "She wanted to help these kids. I'm very proud of her."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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