Forty students enter their race cars in the Oakleigh 500 [Loch Raven]

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By the time the kids are in fifth grade, many school volunteers find it time to go back to work and are no longer able to volunteer.

Not so for Ron and Wendy Duncan. But then again, they're not parents of elementary students, they're grandparents! They started volunteering when their grandson started kindergarten at Oakleigh Elementary; six years later, they are still there. As the boy moved up a grade, they moved up but they also continued to volunteer in the grades he completed. Soon they also found themselves helping out special area teachers such as music, physical education and library. And of course, if the PTA or office staff needed help, they asked Ron and Wendy.


When the Duncans' grandson starts in the magnet program at Parkville Middle School this fall, they hope to volunteer there but they'll stay at Oakleigh because a granddaughter started kindergarten three years ago, and still has three more at Oakleigh before middle school.

Wendy explained retirement gave them free time and volunteering at school allowed them more time with their grandchildren. She added, "Once we realized the amount of work the teachers had to do in addition to being in the classroom we made a commitment to be present as often as possible. Volunteering has allowed us to build relationships with the teachers and the kids. We have received so much love and appreciation from everyone."


Cathleen Kurtz, third-grade teacher, used the words "awesome, the best, the kindest people with a heart of gold, and only an email away" in her description of the Duncans and also listed the multitude of chores they do.

And the school gym was the site of the Oakleigh 500 on Thursday, March 27. Students were given car kits which they then built, painted and decorated their entries for a timed race on an inclined course. Nearly 40 students participated. Weigh-in was at 6 p.m. with the race starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. Every entry received a medal and the top three winners received a special medal and the chance to compete to win one of three schoolwide trophies. Congratulations to all with special congratulations to trophy winners. Fifth-grader, Anders Peterson, won the first place trophy; first-grader, Addison French, second place, and kindergartener, Elizabeth Peterson, took third.

Designs were creative and varied from a coffin holding a skelton, a mousetrap complete with a captured mouse, a rocket with missiles, a bowling lane with pins and a ball, a mouse eating cheese, Orioles and Ravens, and a car painted with bugs!

Scott Kilpatrick, the PTA treasurer brought the activity to the school three years ago. He explained three years ago he was PTA president and wanted to find an acitivity that encouraged famiy interaction and after research, realized the pinewood derby would do just that. And so began a tradition at Oakleigh Elementary.