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Students, Staff Donate Nearly $400,000 to Cancer Charity

August 6, 2013

MCPS students and staff raised nearly $400,000 to help fund cures for cancer and provide help and hope to thousands of patients and their families through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients program. The Pennies for Patients charity benefits the national Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which awards grants to blood cancer researchers and gives money to patients and their families. The top three fund raisers at each level were: Walt Whitman ($91,761), Walter Johnson ($81,474) and Bethesda-Chevy Chase ($6,595) high schools; Rosa Parks ($8,334), Takoma Park ($5,170) and Thomas Pyle ($2,851) middle schools; and Oakland Terrace ($8,012), Kensington Parkwood ($6,733) and Lakewood ($4,789) elementary schools.


Frederick Keys pitcher Tyler Wilson reads to students at Longview School.

On May 24, Frederick Keys pitcher Tyler Wilson visited Longview School to read to Josh Schechter’s special education class. Schechter’s students had been working on baseball-themed reading and math activities. Meeting a baseball player was the culmination of those activities. The students enjoyed meeting Wilson and interacting with him.


Jeanette Simmons, a teacher at Argyle Middle School, is one of four educators in the U.S. who has received a Scholastic Outstanding Educator Award for helping her students overcome reading challenges. Keyon Budd, an eighth grader at John Poole Middle School, was named one of nine Scholastic National READ 180 All-Star winners for making impressive gains in reading.

READ 180 is a learning program that works to raise reading achievement for struggling students in grades 3–12. The students taught by these educators have shown significant growth in one year and have become enthusiastic readers who are able to tackle more complex texts.
Simmons has taught the program for three years. She encourages a collaborative learning environment and urges her students to celebrate one another’s success. She acts as a mentor for fellow teachers and attends countywide meetings to share tips and best practices for the classroom. She also sponsors a group of READ 180 students called STTARS (Students Taking Their Academics Seriously). The members—students who have maintained a 2.5 GPA or higher—meet every other week to discuss ways they can continue to be successful. Simmons will receive $1,200, an all-expenses-paid trip to Scholastic headquarters in New York and a plaque.


Poole Middle School student Keyon Budd has greatly improved his reading skills. His reading teacher is Andrea Grifone.

Keyon Budd was reading below grade level. Through hard work, he has made two years’ worth of reading gains and is now reading on grade level. “My school experience has changed a lot because of READ 180,” said Keyon. “Before READ 180, I never read chapter books on my own. I would just skim through them. Now, I like to read in my spare time.” Keyon’s reading teacher is Andrea Grifone.

John Poole Middle School implements Scholastic’s Read 180 program with great success. The program focuses on students who are performing below grade level in reading with a goal of bringing them to proficiency. This year, the school highlighted the successes of 28 students who have met or exceeded the research-based goal for growth each year in Read 180. These students and their families will be recognized at a banquet and ceremony on June 12. A former Read 180 student who is currently in the Global Ecology Magnet program at Poolesville High School will be the keynote speaker.

On May 9, Westbrook Elementary School art teacher Yvette Cervenkov-Peet hosted the annual spring Art Show, showcasing one piece of work from each student in the building. Leading up to the big night, Yvette hangs art throughout the school hallways on color coded bulletin board paper (green for Kindergarten, orange for first grade, etc.), while other pieces are displayed atop bookshelves in the Media Center. Students get to choose which of their projects from the year they’ll include in the show. The evening of the show, families love to wander the halls in search of their child’s artwork, and can complete a scavenger hunt, answering questions about art and artists along the way. At each year’s show, Yvette also creates a school-wide art project to which attendees can contribute. While last year’s assignment was a graffiti wall with black paper and chalk, this year’s task was to create a patchwork sticky note quilt. The art will stay in the school hallways for the remainder of the year.