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School gets Role Model books

Smithsburg High School was a major beneficiary of the academy's eviction earlier this month, collecting hundreds of books and bo

Smithsburg High School was a major beneficiary of the academy's eviction earlier this month, collecting hundreds of books and bo

July 31, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Smithsburg High School Assistant Principal Thomas Shepherd got the tip at 7:10 a.m. July 15 and within a half-hour, he was pulling up to the front gates of the former Fort Ritchie Army base with a box truck.

Shepherd went there to collect items left behind by Role Models America Inc. when the military-style academy for high school dropouts was evicted earlier this month.

Between eight and 10 Washington County Board of Education employees joined him in an effort that yielded hundreds of textbooks and fiction books and dozens of boxes full of science equipment.

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The truck, which was the size of a small moving van, was about three-quarters full when they drove back to the school, Shepherd said.

Role Models did retrieve some of its belongings before the eviction.

But landlord PenMar Development Corp. was bound by law to remove the remaining items to the nearest public right of way, Board Chairman Brett Wilson said.

PenMar hired moving crews that set everything down along Md. 491, where it then became fair game for scavengers.

"It's basically the old finders keepers," Wilson said.

Crews spent 20 hours removing desks, chairs, computers and even paper clips from the 54 buildings Role Models leased.

A volunteer with the Blue Ridge Summit (Pa.) Library was one of the first to arrive after being tipped off about the July 12 eviction.

Library Board President Bob Davis used his pickup truck to haul two or three boxes of fiction books he estimated are worth $200. The library also got some other supplies, including a needed three-hole punch, he said.

Davis was pleased to learn about Smithsburg High School's large take.

"That's wonderful because schools don't have nearly enough budget to buy books for their library," he said.

Back at the high school, a teenager working there for the summer has spent the last two weeks in the school library sorting the bounty.

Some of the textbooks are approved for use in classrooms, either at Smithsburg or at other Washington County schools.

Other books that aren't part of the curriculum will be used as resources by the social studies department, Shepherd said.

Several copies of "The Diary of Anne Frank" were delivered to Smithsburg Middle School, he said. Other fiction books will remain at the high school library.

Many of the books are brand new and some still have the prices marked inside. One book about Van Gogh was priced at $56. A language textbook was priced at $27.50.

In one of the science rooms, boxes of unused beakers, goggles and Bunsen burners were piled on top of the teacher's desk.

Role Models operated on a two-year, $10 million U.S. Department of Labor grant that expired June 30. Classes at the school ended in May.

Founder Robert Alexander has vowed to reopen the school.

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