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Fundraiser has Humane benefits

December 19, 2005|by JANET HEIM

janeth@herald-mail.com

Something as simple as collecting pennies has rallied the students at the middle school Antietam Academy. An idea by Assistant Principal Nicole Palm, with support from the teaching team, grew into Pennies for Pooches, a schoolwide fundraiser.

While the students raise cash for the Humane Society of Washington County, they earn student service learning hours, which are required for high school graduation. It also helps students understand the importance of helping in their community, said school counselor Monica Kegg.

Antietam Academy serves students who have discipline, behavior or attendance problems at their home schools. With the middle school portion housed in the basement of Western Heights Middle School, they're just down the road from the Humane Society, making this a project that benefits their "neighbors."

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Palm said every month the students have "Star Sightings," a presentation by a community or nonprofit leader who encourages positive community involvement.

The December presenter was Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society. He was presented a check for what was collected during the Pennies for Pooches drive when he visited the school Friday.

"We are grateful for the individual and collective efforts of the students at Antietam Academy. Their energy and enthusiasm is to be commended and we are fortunate to have such great animal-friendly partners," Miller said.

Since the kickoff of the drive, about $100 has been raised, not all in pennies. Dollar bills, other change and even a dog collar were donated by the approximately 40 students.

Change is collected every morning in a large plastic crayon. Student Maelin Keller made the first donation, money she earned herself.

To promote the efforts, the students designed posters, most working as teams. The posters fill a wall on one of the school's main hallways, where an outside judge selected the first- and second-place winners.

The winning poster was headlined "Help Us Look Like These Dogs" and featured a multitude of color cutouts of various kinds of dogs. Maelin's poster - a hand-drawn crayon piece of a sick dog reclining with a thermometer in its mouth - placed second. The students of the winning posters were recently treated to lunch at Ryan's Family Steakhouse.

Chris Whipkey, 13, and Devonte Morel, 12, have both had dogs and have taken the project to heart. Devonte said his family's pit bull had to be put to sleep recently because of health problems, but he hopes they'll get a hamster or another dog. Chris' family has a poodle and a boxer.

"It makes me feel good," Chris said of the school's efforts to raise money for the Humane Society. "Anything I can do to help dogs without a home - I'd want the same for my dogs."

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