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PTA spends $8,000 on school supplies

November 30, 1999|By Erin CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

Many Salem Avenue Elementary School students probably would not have had the pencils, paper and notebooks they need when school starts Wednesday.

That won't be the case, however, since the school's PTA decided to spend $8,000 to buy school supplies for every student at the school.

As a result, "Each child is starting out with level footing here," PTA President Dina Kegarise said. "Just because Susie can afford nicer things than Tommy ... that makes no difference here because they have the same thing now. That's the way it should be."

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Salem Avenue Elementary Principal Tom Garner said that about 70 percent of his students qualify for free and reduced price meals. He said that in the past, many students have come to school without supplies, saying their parents could not afford the items.

Kegarise, who is the newly elected PTA president, said the group wanted to spend its money on something that would help students.

"The PTA is putting students first," Garner said.

Using lists for each grade level, the volunteers spent months buying, organizing and distributing supplies.

She said the PTA purchased pencils, erasers, glue sticks, binders, paper, crayons, colored pencils, hand sanitizer, tissues, composition books, copy paper and other items.

The PTA already had purchased planners for each student, Kegarise said.

"We decided we were going to do this because we're in a lower income area," she said.

Kegarise said teachers and parents were pleased with the idea.

While at Wal-Mart shopping for the school supplies, Kegarise said she talked to parents of Salem Avenue Elementary students.

"I told them, 'Don't even bother (getting school supplies),'" she said. "So, they didn't. They left and went home."

Doreena Wood, an intervention teacher at the school, said the project benefits teachers and students.

"Many of our students come to school without supplies or with limited supplies," she said. "This way they can come to school ready to learn."

Kegarise, who said she has cared for about 50 foster children, said she knows from experience how important the school supplies will be for the students at Salem Avenue Elementary.

"I know how important it is for them to start out with the same thing that everyone else has," she said. "When they're going to school with the cheaper items, it's hard for them to get started. It's our responsibility to make sure they start out even. No child should go to school feeling like they aren't the same as everyone else."

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