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At Reservoir High, a girls' club tackles prejudice [Highland/Fulton]

Karen Moore-Roby is retiring as the principal of Fulton Elementary School.
Karen Moore-Roby is retiring as the principal of Fulton Elementary School. (submitted photo)

Back in October of 2013, I introduced you all to Giovanna "Gigi" Guarnieri, now a Reservoir High junior, who, along with classmates Lauren DeLong, Sophia Sommerkamp and Maria Janush, co-founded the Global Equality Now Club, a chapter of School Girls Unite!

The mission of SGU! is "to tackle prejudice against girls worldwide and expand their freedom and opportunities through education and leadership." With the help and assistance of Janine Kucik, the club sponsor, GENC organized and hosted a countywide summit on June 5.

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More than 50 students from Hammond High, Hammond Middle, Harper's Choice Middle, Murray Hill Middle and Wilde Lake Middle schools attended the summit, where they shared with each other data about the projects that were completed throughout the year and began planning for the upcoming year.

Wendy Shaetzel Lesko, the founder and coordinator of the Youth Activism Project, attended and welcomed the students and presented strategies for taking action. Another attendee, Emma Halley, an Advanced Research Program student from Glenelg High School, gave an inspiring speech about her research on the women's suffrage movement. As a result, Emma has learned more about current women's issues and resulted in her starting her own nonprofit organization.

Also representing Reservoir High School at the summit were Guarika Mester, Lindsay Allen, Connie Cho, Emily Blanchard, Joe Smith, Connie Chung, MonYi Lwin, Ana Isailovic, Brittney Hoover, Myla Wilson, Joyce Lim, Carly Clarke, Emily Wang, Stephanie Roth, Amy Kim, Emily Fourney, Jessie Green, Sarah Markos, Shama Patel and Teresa DePinto.

At Fulton Elementary School, the year closed on a sad note. Principal Karen Moore-Roby has retired after 40 years in the school system, with the last 17 years as the principal of Fulton. In an email she sent to me, she wrote, "While I am looking forward to my retirement, I will miss all of you. I'll carry fond memories of the students, staff and families in my heart forever. Fulton Elementary truly is where the best part of my future began".

As it is an ending of one great adventure for Karen and the start of a new adventure, it is also the start of a new great adventure for Fulton. The school and community have a new principal, Sharon Lewandowski. She comes from Bollman Bridge Elementary School, where she has been an assistant principal for the past seven years. Welcome to the Highland/Fulton community, Sharon.

A few days before the third Saturday of each month for nearly the last year, I have noticed a food pantry sign appear at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Highland. On a recent third Saturday, while I was out on my usual Saturday morning errands, I stopped by to check the pantry out.

The Open Door Food Pantry was started almost a year ago by Carol Hill, a member of the church. Carol started out by volunteering at another food pantry and was moved to start one at her home church. She took me on a tour of the operation.

"Think of this as a grocery store, only without a cash register", Carol said.

Each patron is greeted at the door. First-time customers fill out an information sheet and, when that is done, they grab a shopping cart and head to the beginning of the "store". The bread table is the first stop and they can take as much as they like. The bread is donated by Panera Bread.

Next is the canned veggie table. Families of three or less can take two cans; larger families can take more. The same goes for the canned fruit. When it's available, customers also can get fresh fruits and vegetables. There's also breakfast items, snacks, coffee, tea, etc.

Carol said that one person donated a large quantity of mustard, ketchup, barbeque sauce, etc., because "it's summer and people might want to cook out". They also provide limited quantities of laundry detergent and fabric softener, personal hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, etc.

I asked Carol what the greatest need was. "Cash donations", she said.

For more information, contact the church at 301-854-2324. Mount Zion United Methodist Church is at 12430 Scaggsville Road (Route 216), Highland. Go to their website: http://www.mtzionhighland.com.

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