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Mentors honored by Salem Avenue Elementary

May 28, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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mentors

Along with paper, pencils and books, some Salem Avenue Elementary School students got something extra this year.

Students who showed tendencies of losing interest in school or of not reaching their academic potential were paired with 22 adult volunteers.

On Wednesday, the students threw a picnic for the volunteers who had worked with them during the year.

As participants in the Children and Adults Reaching Excellence program, known as CARE, the mentors helped students with math lessons, reading and other class assignments. In some cases, they offered companionship.

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The Rev. Anthony Carr spent time with fourth-grader Cornell Gordon, meeting the youngster once a week to talk with him and play outdoor games.

"They just need that special buddy, that one-to-one connection," said Carol Corwell-Martin, a curriculum coordinator at Salem Avenue Elementary who worked on the project.

It was an eye-opening experience for the adults as well as for the children.

Erin Brennan, one of several members of the Hagerstown Jaycees who volunteered, said she was unaware of what kids faced until she got involved in the CARE program.

Brennan was paired with first-grader Misty Polley, helping her with math and reading. Brennan met with Polley about 45 minutes a week to help her hone her skills.

At a picnic for the youngsters and their tutors Wednesday, Misty enthusiastically described her school activities. The youngster talked about how she and Brennan drew numbers and colored them.

Part of Misty's classroom assignment this year was to keep a journal to record favorite things in her life, and school was mentioned frequently, said Brennan.

"I think she'll miss school a lot," said Brennan.

Volunteers from all walks of life, from state police troopers to politicians, participated in CARE. Some of the Washington County Commissioners were paired with children.

Commissioner R. Lee Downey joined other volunteers for their last visit with students during the picnic at Hellane Park.

Students presented their tutors with carnations and a miniature model of the school to thank them for their help.

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