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Club helps students with schoolwork

February 14, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

When Shawnee McMahon needed a little help in math, her teacher suggested she join a club. It turned out to be just what the 13-year-old needed.

"I'm doing much better in math now and have been on the honor roll every marking period," Shawnee said.

That "club" is the Blazer Club at Clear Spring Middle School which draws about 40 youngsters every Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. The reason for its existence is to help students there with their homework and any subject that might be giving them some trouble.

"We've had it here about 10 years," said guidance counselor Earl Meagher who noted a similar project at his former school, Western Heights Middle, was called Project Success.

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The whole point is to work on weaknesses and turn them into strengths, Meagher said.

When school dismisses on Wednesdays, the Blazer Club convenes with students, aides and teachers using the cafeteria and empty classrooms to work. Students needing help in math or U.S. history, for instance, are paired with teachers in those fields.

"They come in and they know what is expected of them," Meagher said. Some just work on their homework until their parents come to pick them up.

In most cases, the common denominator for club members is a need to improve grades, complete their work and in some instances, have better attendance, although that's not always the case.

"We get recommendations from parents, teachers and administrators," Meagher said.

Students stay as long as they need to show improvement in their area. "Each marking period, we usually have four or five club members who get on the honor roll," he said.

It's not all work and no play, though. Meagher said there are prizes for the word of the day or math problem of the day. The students look forward to those, he said.

High school students help tutor the students, Meagher said. They can earn student service hours for their work, too.

Chastity Homberg, 14, walks over from Clear Spring High to help out with the Blazer Club. "I'm tutoring one girl in science and then I walk around and ask others if they need any help," she said.

For her efforts, Chastity earns 1 1/2 hours each week.

Mandi Crowl is a 14-year-old eighth-grade honor student at Clear Spring Middle who also helps out. "I saw people in my class who were needing help so I volunteered," Mandi said.

Meagher said the Blazer Club wouldn't be possible without the support of Paul Engle, Clear Spring Middle School principal, and Boyd Michael, executive director for secondary education.

For more information, call 301-766-8094.

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