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Hancock school named first AmeriCorps site in county

September 14, 2000

Hancock school named first AmeriCorps site in county



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


HANCOCK - The sky's the limit for student achievement at Hancock Middle-Senior High School.

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The expansion of AmeriCorps' "A Star in Western Maryland" service program from Frostburg, Md., to Hancock will help link school, family and community resources to give sixth- through 12th-grade students "the support they need to come to school ready to learn," said Vice Principal Larry Smith.

Hancock is AmeriCorp's first school site in Washington County.

"This school is a launching pad. Our kids in Hancock can get anywhere they want to go from here," he said. "AmeriCorps and Hancock are a perfect fit - absolutely."

Smith said he spearheaded the effort to bring the AmeriCorps program to the geographically isolated Washington County school because kids there, and everywhere, "desperately need" more support systems to face today's challenges.

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AmeriCorps is a national service movement that addresses such social issues as education, public safety, the environment and unmet human needs.

A Star in Western Maryland is a collaboration between Frostburg State University and participating community-based organizations.

Funded by the Corporation for National Service and the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism, the program for six years has placed AmeriCorps members at sites in Allegany and Garrett counties to provide needed human services, said Cherie Krug, director of the Center for Service, Leadership and AmeriCorps at Frostburg State University.

Increased federal and state funding enabled the program's expansion into Washington County, where it was determined the need exists, Krug said.

The Hagerstown-based Washington County Community Partnership for Children & Families gave a matching $3,000 contribution for in-school AmeriCorps member Shauna Stanley's living stipend, insurance, child-care costs and education award, Smith said.

That agency's commitment partnered with the "strong (program) ownership" of Smith and Stanley will make the program successful, Krug said.

"We've been met with incredible enthusiasm in Washington County," she said.

Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy endorsed the program, and town citizens have voiced an outpouring of support, Smith said.

"I think it's tremendous," said the Rev. F. Allan Weatherholt Jr., whose two sons attend the school. "Anything that helps strengthen our children, helps strengthen our families and our community."

Stanley can already be seen posting flyers in Hancock businesses and civic organizations. She's set up a small room to tutor students, and is planning an after-school homework club.

"Any student can come and ask me for help and I will help them. And if I can't, I'll find someone who will," said Stanley, who has served as a substitute teacher at the school and who hopes to pursue an career in special education and mathematics.

She is rallying parents and community volunteers to help tutor and mentor students, and to staff fun after-school activities to keep at-risk kids on the right track, she said.

A student project to raise awareness about homelessness is also in the works, added Smith, who was involved in a similar project while a teacher in Allegany County.

The duo would like to see involved parents throughout Hancock Middle-Senior High School's hallways, they said.

"I believe that parental partnerships are the ships that don't sink," Smith said. "It's not enough to be a part of the community, you've gotta shape it."

An open forum to discuss the program will be held Sept. 20 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the Human Service Expo at the school.

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