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Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School raising money for a new roof

April 22, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Containers catch dripping water in Jackie Benton's classroom at Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School. The school is having a yard sale to raise money to replace a portion of the roof.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

"It's kind of a lose-lose situation," said Kandace Zollman, principal of Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School, nestled in the mountains south of Smithsburg.

She stood Monday, looking out a dirty attic window at what has been the thorn in the institution's side for years: The roof.

A large splotch of black tar sprawled across the white, rubberized surface.

The roof, which dates to at least the 1980s, has started leaking into classrooms, disintegrating ceiling tiles, ruining carpet and filling the school with the faint stench of mildew, she said.  

Attempts to patch the roof have only made it worse and the school has said enough is enough, she said.

"We have such great kids, they deserve a new roof," she said.

The school's supporting constituency of Seventh Day Adventist Churches agreed and in April voted to support a $200,000 project to replace a portion the flat, rubber roof with a pitched roof, she said. The roof over the gymnasium is pitched and not in need of repair, she said.

"Rubberized roof, flat roof: don't ever do it," Zollman said. "It is a huge mistake."

Students, parents, church members, teachers and staff have all chipped in to help raise money for the project.

So far, the school has received $26,000 in donations toward the project, Zollman said.

A Smithsburg-based contractor will start replacing the roof this summer so next school year, students can learn without hearing the drip, drip, drip of water into a plastic bucket, she said.

"It's not horribly distracting, but sometimes it's annoying to see these buckets in the classroom," said Sheridan Reginato, 14, historian of the eighth-grade class.

There also have been times when pieces of ceiling tiles have fallen on students, said Ashton Miller, 13, eighth-grade class president.

But for students, the falling, leaking roof has become the norm, something they have learned to live with, Ashton said.

What money the school does not raise by this summer, it will borrow to complete the project, Zollman said, adding that the school currently has no capital debt.

"The pastors (from the constituency) are going to the churches this weekend to say 'OK. We're ready to roll. Anybody want to give?'" she said. The goal is to have $50,000 raised at the start of the project, she said.

To help shrink the amount of money the school will borrow toward the project, it hosted a yard sale on Good Friday. The sale continues Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Friday, the school had raised an additional $2,600 toward the roof, said Librarian Susan Westfahl.

"This is a roof that would continue to keep this school open for years to come," she said. "These kids, they deserve it."

"I just think this is a great way to help out a good cause," said Ron Brayton of Smithsburg. Brayton came Friday to shop the sale.

Raising money for themselves, however felt a bit out of the norm for students, or "new," as Ashton put it.

Students at the school are no strangers to raising money, but usually it goes to others, Zollman said.

"We don't do a lot for ourselves," she said. "We try to teach the kids the value of helping other people. They are kids but they can really make a difference."

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IF YOU GO

What: Yard Sale

Where: Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School, 10207 Crystal Falls Drive, Hagerstown

When: Sunday, April 24 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Info: all the proceeds go to replace the school's leaky roof.

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