Wheelchairs teach students about sensitivity


Correction and apologies

This reporter wishes to apologize for an error in last week's column. Jackie Conarton is the principal at Ilchester Elementary School, not the Baltimore school named.

A LINE OF 10 black wheelchairs stretched almost the length of the Dunloggin Middle School gymnasium as Bill Denby explained to seventh-grade students and teachers how to move down-court in a straight line and how to turn -- in a wheelchair.

"Your center of gravity changes in a wheelchair," Denby said. "If you feel yourself flipping over backward, put your chin on your chest. Now everybody practice that!"

He asked for teachers to volunteer to demonstrate the skills, while he and two Dunloggin students took them on in a basketball scrimmage.

Denby rolled easily in his wheelchair up and down the court, passing, dribbling and shooting.

The volunteer teachers fumbled in their chairs, bobbled passes and missed shots, while the seventh-graders cheered and booed good-naturedly.

The students clapped as one of the teachers went for a basket and flipped over backward, and then righted himself.

Then teams of students in wheelchairs played against each other.

Denby, a disability-awareness speaker, is a Vietnam veteran and double amputee.

He was one of 15 speakers invited to participate in the school's "Celebrate Ability Awareness Day" Friday.

Reading teacher Sandi Witt said the day was a celebration of the school's Student Service Learning Program.

Over the past five years, Witt and special education teacher RoseMarie Deming have developed a comprehensive student service learning curriculum on disability awareness for Dunloggin seventh-graders.

The program includes a partnership with Cedar Lane School in Columbia, whose students are disabled.

The yearlong "Celebrate Abilities Program" is aptly named. Its goal: to teach sensitivity and awareness of others' strengths and challenges.

This year, Dunloggin raised $2,804.20 in a penny drive to help buy equipment for students at the Cedar Lane School.

In March, Dunloggin students sponsored a schoolwide talent show, and scheduled a performance for Cedar Lane Middle School students.

All Dunloggin seventh-graders can apply for membership in the CAP Core Group. Each member is matched with a student from Cedar Lane and participates in activities with the student throughout the school year.

The 27 Dunloggin students selected to be CAP core members this year are Aparna Bansal, Scott Black, Michael Blair, Christina Briedenbach, Courtney Conklin, Glenn Cromwell, Shanley Crutchfield, Steve Danoff, Laura Davies, Whitney Edmonds, Kathleen Fry, Caroline Gifford and Stephanie Harrell.

Also participating are Nichole Huter, Jon Kaufman, Stacey Marucci, Lauren McAuliffe, Mary McQuaid, Jeff Miller, Judy Park, Lindsay Pierce, Amanda Reed, Erin Reese, Eric Roberts, Danielle Rodman, Charlie Rutter and Kara Shipley.

Teachers Witt and Deming have been named fellows by the State Service Alliance, an honor given to teachers who have provided outstanding Student Service Learning Programs.

The two have been invited to speak to state and national meetings of educators.

Beautiful homes

Burleigh Manor -- a private home dating from the Revolutionary War -- welcomed more than 400 visitors in the Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage May 2.

The Manor, owned by Mr. and Mrs. William T. Reynolds, helped the Patapsco Female Institute raise some $9,000 to renovate its gardens and develop educational programs.

Golden rule

Kathy Tomaszewski, a parent at Ilchester Elementary School and a PTA volunteer, recently received a J. C. Penney Golden Rule Award certificate.

The statewide Penney program honored 21 Maryland volunteers, as well as 35 finalists for their outstanding service to the community.

Tomaszewski won the award for a reading program that she organized at Ilchester Elementary School. The program, "Give the Gift of Reading," included the goal of providing a book for the holidays for 420 students at Thomas Johnson Elementary School in Baltimore.

Tomaszewski and Ilchester students collected 1,065 gift-wrapped books -- two for each child at Thomas Johnson -- with 225 books left over for the school's library.

The children at Ilchester were surprised on Valentine's Day when Thomas Johnson Principal Jackie Conarton, teacher Pamela Arnett and three students arrived with shopping bags filled with homemade valentine cards.

The three students -- Brittany Crowl, Samantha Steadman and Jeffrey Tucker -- accompanied by Conarton, went from classroom to classroom distributing the cards.

Compassionate scholars

About five months ago, Jason Harvill, Stuart McGilvray, Dan Shillingburg and Andrew Skalka -- fifth-graders at Northfield Elementary School in Ellicott City -- began learning about the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

They went to the library, visited a children's room at the center via the Internet, and visited the hospital with parent Barbara Skalka.

Their research included information on diseases, as well as items needed for patients' comfort and entertainment and other hospital-related topics.

The boys organized and emceed a talent show at Northfield May 1 to raise money for the Children's Center.

Performers included Gregory Francavilla, Katherine Park, Jeffrey Stanford, and Heather Ballew and Allison Lekich.

Young writer

Chloe Danielle, a first-grader at Centennial Lane Elementary School, was one of eight regional winners in the Fourth Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators contest -- a national competition locally sponsored by Maryland Public Television.

The goal of the contest -- designed by the creators of the award-winning PBS television series "Reading Rainbow" -- is to encourage creativity among children in grades K-3.

Chloe's entry, "Cody and Crackle: The Mystery of the Lost Boy," will be broadcast on MPT next month.

The Maryland winners compete at the national level in June.

Pub Date: 5/11/98

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