MAKING SERVICE to others a part of each day has brought national recognition to a Westminster school.
Gateway, Carroll County's public alternative school, has been selected by the Corporation for National Service as one of 64 Service-Learning Leader Schools nationwide. It's the only school in Maryland to receive the honor.
"As an alternative school, we've realized we need to really motivate our students," said Principal Robert Cullison, who applied for the award this year. "Helping others is a good way for them to help themselves, so we've made this a separate, stand-alone course rather than an add-on."
The school, which serves middle- and high-school students who have had difficulty in traditional classrooms, has added the service component to its Gateway Seminar, a class students take with members of their homeroom.
Students create a service project and find a way to fund it, which often involves the entire school, Cullison said.
One class sponsored a carwash, raising money to provide a Christmas party for young parents in the school system's enrichment program, he said.
"There is 100 percent involvement in this program from the custodian to every teacher to the principal," Cullison said, noting that it is often teachers and the students' peers who purchase the items they're selling or have their cars washed.
"It's part of our culture, it's part of our program," he said.
The emphasis Gateway gives to service through this class is one reason it received the national award. The hard work has reaped immediate benefits, Cullison said. Students willingly speak at local, regional and national conferences about how the projects have helped their self-esteem and desire to remain in school.
"Our students take a great deal of pride in the projects they've done," he said. "We have some pretty nice kids here who do some pretty nice things. I'm proud to be associated with them."
Agriculture met academia April 28 when the Western Maryland College chapter of a national service fraternity sponsored Cow Drop Bingo in the school's Red Square.
Alpha Phi Omega, WMC's co-ed service fraternity, raised about $840, half of which went to winner John Rouse, who's putting himself through school while earning a master's degree in counseling.
"It came at a useful time," said Rouse, who works in the school's academic skills center with learning disabled students.
For five hours, fraternity members and curious onlookers watched as Vicki wandered through squares chalked off in the college's land- and brick-covered area between Hoover Library and Hill Hall.
But the cow, donated by Commissioner Donald I. Dell, never performed in any of the squares fraternity members had sold for $2 each. The money was awarded to Rouse, who had received the "no drop" square.
"I guess she got stage fright," said Christen Szymanski, the WMC freshman who organized the event.
Proceeds will be used in service and leadership projects at the school and around Carroll County, she said.
"We really want to thank [them] for the cow," she said, noting that the service fraternity hopes to make this an annual event at the school.
Relay for Life raffle
A $5 raffle ticket could provide a month's worth of chances to win a prize, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
Each ticket sold by Fired Up for a Cure, a local relay team participating in the event May 18 and 19 at Westminster High, will give the donor 26 chances to win a Longaberger basket or a Pampered Chef item. Daily drawings for the prizes will begin June 1. All tickets must be purchased by then.
Information: 410-239-6402 or 410-848-3152.
Music for spring
Young musicians at local schools will perform this week:
East Middle School: instrumental music concert, 7:30 p.m. tomorrow; seventh- and eighth-grade spring concert, 8 a.m. Wednesday; sixth-grade spring concert, 9:30 a.m. Wednesday; vocal concert, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
West Middle School: sixth- and seventh-grade mixed vocal concert, 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday.
Westminster High: band concert, 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Thursday.
Amy L. Miller's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.