Friday, May 21, 1999

Students celebrate sameness

Winton Place, suburban kids study together

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BLUE ASH — Mixing handfuls of Silly Putty with scores of giggles Thursdayshowed this experiment was working.

        The twofold experiment: Find the characteristics of the polymers that make up gooey Silly Putty and, more important, discover what's alike about children from two worlds.

        The experiment unfolded at Sycamore Township's Maple Dale Elementary School, where third-graders spent the morning learning science lessons and making friends with visiting youngsters from Winton Place Academy.

"Sister program'
        The schools, described as “sister schools” by organizers, have been linked for two years. The goal is to bring together and forge a friendship between people from the two schools — one in an upper-middleclass suburb; the other, an urban Cincinnati public school in a mostly low-income neighborhood.

        “The whole sister program is to give the children and staff at our school and Maple Dale a chance to experience other cultures and to see how much they are alike,” said Christina Russo, Winton Place principal. “It's a very positive experience.”

A favor: 5,948 books
        The link started last school year, when teacher Steve Reinke stirred interest in his Maple Dale third-graders to collect used books to add to Winton Place's skimpy library. Students brought in 5,948 children's books for Winton Place.

        Mr. Reinke, who lives in Winton Place and is on the neighborhood's community council, recently received a $920 grant from the Cincinnati Foundation to help pay for the sister school project.

        Maple Dale parents and staff are coordinating a coat collection and another book drive, and several Maple Dale parents volunteer as tutors there.

        But the tie to Winton Place is “not just a service project,” for Maple Dale, said Janine Propst, the sister school's parent chairman.

        “We really want the inter action, where we develop a relationship,” she said.

Help after tornado
        Winton Place students returned the good will after hearing that several Maple Dale families lost belongings in the April 9 tornado. Students made cards expressing concern and collected cleaning supplies.

        “They all wanted to know, "What can we do for Maple Dale?'” Ms. Russo said.

        Dion Smith, 10, of Winton Place, marveled at Maple Dale's open-air hallways and lots of grassy spaces.

        “Ours is a big old red building,” he said.

        The best part of the visit appealed to all the third-graders, Dion said.

        “We get to make all this mushy stuff.”


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