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Fun Fair increases awareness of center

November 25, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

HAGERSTOWN - Luke Heinrich, a first-grader at Bester Elementary School, was not at all shy telling a volunteer he wanted a spider with blue webbing coming from its mouth painted on his hand.

Luke and his mother, Karla, were two of the many people who participated in the school's Kid's Fun Fair Saturday afternoon, which was aimed at increasing awareness of The Judy Center.

A grant-funded program, The Judy Center seeks to prepare at-risk children up to 5 years old for school at Bester, said program coordinator Susie Burger. Families are made aware of services available, such as Head Start, child-care options, health and medical services, adult education, social services, family activities and others.

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Many of the school's 550 or so students come from low-income families and often are not prepared when they first walk through Bester's doors, said school principal Drenna Reineck.

At Saturday's event, booths from Judy Center partners were set up and activities were available for children, including crafts, face painting and storytelling.

Joyce Lantz and her son, Joel Rowe, a kindergartner, have taken advantage of The Judy Center.

"They seem to have a lot of activities. He's opening up more," Lantz said, saying Joel is less shy than he was before entering the program.

Bester Elementary was one of the 13 schools that first received a five-year state grant. Twenty-three are now funded, Burger said.

Burger said Judy Center officials at Bester are collecting data to try to renew the grant when it expires. They plan to track children through school and compare their test scores to those of children who don't attend Judy Center, Burger said.

Scanning the crowd in Bester's cafeteria, Burger said once a year might not be often enough to hold such an event.

"We might do it in a few more months," she said.

For more information about The Judy Center, call 301-766-8005.

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