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6th-grader finds a problem, and a solution NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE


Jennie Thomas has been collecting books for nine months.

The 12-year-old Hammond Middle School sixth-grader has assembled books about all Maryland counties, the Orioles and the United States Senate, to name just a few.

But the books aren't for Jennie's own library. She's been collecting them for a yearlong school project and will donate them at the end of the month to a Baltimore elementary school in need of library books.

The project is part of the school system's "Type III" program, a component of the Gifted and Talented program.

Students in the Type III class are required to identify a problem, come up with a solution and present the solution to an audience, said Pat Greenwald, a Gifted and Talented resource teacher at Hammond Middle School.

Jennie got the idea for her project last summer when she read a newspaper article about the Steuart Hill school in Baltimore. The article discussed how the school's principal made major improvements at the school, but there was still a need for many supplies, including library books. Jennie decided to help out.

"She came in to me the first day of school and said she wanted to do this," Mrs. Greenwald said.

"It just sounded kind of sad to me," said Jennie, of the lack of books in some city schools. "Kids really don't think about how lucky our schools are."

Her project took a slightly different turn when Jennie learned that Steuart Hill had already received many donated books because of the newspaper article.

Howard Quinn, a teacher at Hammond Middle, suggested that Jennie select another city school, James McHenry Elementary, for her project. His wife, Esther Quinn, teaches there, and Mr. Quinn knew that James McHenry needed library books.

Once she chose the school, Jennie got to work.

"I decided how I was going to do the fund-raising and what approach I was going to take and started writing letters," she said.

Jennie wrote more than 100 letters to elected officials, businesses and other organizations. To publicize the project, she made announcements over the school's public address system, wrote articles about it for the Hammond Middle school newspaper and put up posters at school.

bTC She received about 50 books, including donations from Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who gave a book about the United States Senate, state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who donated books about Maryland, and the Orioles baseball team, which gave a book about Oriole Park Camden Yards.

Jennie received $130 in donations and used the money to order school books from an educational publishing company in Iowa.

She plans to deliver the books to James McHenry in a few weeks.

Mrs. Quinn, who teaches at the school, said the librarian there is anxiously awaiting the books. She said that the city school system frequently doesn't have the money to replace worn out books.

"It's wonderful to think that a middle school child has that much thought. It's quite touching," Mrs. Quinn said.

Jennie said she plans to continue her project next year, collecting more books and possibly trying to acquire computers or software for James McHenry.

Jennie and the other students in the Type III program will present their projects at the Type III fair on at 7 p.m. May 26 at Hammond Middle school.

Anyone wishing to donate books to the project may call Hammond at (410) 880-5830

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