Schools Honored for Community Spirit and Service

May 11, 2004
Somerset Elementary School, Forest Oak Middle School, and Wheaton High School were among the individuals and organizations honored for their outstanding volunteer efforts at the fourth annual Marriott Spirit to Serve Community Service Awards held April 28.

Somerset Elementary School, with an enrollment of about 400 students, was recognized for integrating service-learning projects into the curriculum at every grade level. Staff members were recognized for strengthening links between curriculum standards, character education, guidance domains, and service opportunities. Service involvement includes administrative, parental, teacher, and student support. Relationships have been established with The Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health, senior centers, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the Helping Hands Center.

Forest Oak Middle School, with about 1,000 students, was the second recipient. Student service learning coordinator Kathleen Stovicek teams with others to promote service opportunities by using the school's web site, morning television programs, principal's weekly letters, PTA newsletters, and student service learning bulletin board. As a Green School, Forest Oak has established relations with the city of Gaithersburg, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Izaak Walton League. Students at Forest Oak have taught more than 350 students in Baltimore, Baltimore County, and St. Mary's County about the Bluebird Project they designed, which brought native songbirds back to the fields and meadows around Forest Oak.

Wheaton High School, with more than 1,450 students, was the third school recognized. Last August, the school began a character initiative called Wheaton WORKS (Wisdom, Optimism, Respect, Knowledge, and Service). By implementing the service aspect first, student service involvement led to greater optimism in the school and increased student respect for themselves and others. Through a partnership with the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, Wheaton students met needs at local nursing homes, low-income housing developments, and recreational organizations for students with disabilities. PTSA, staff, administrators and the community supported the service opportunities.

Coordinating Community Superintendent Don Kress and Board of Education Member Patricia B. O'Neill gave remarks at the event. Marriott Senior Vice President Stephen Marriott welcomed the group, and Montgomery County Volunteer Center Director Andrea Jolly gave the opening and closing remarks and presented the awards.

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