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Children may be too young to adopt other children, but if they attend the Gilbert Heights Elementary School in Portland, Ore., they may "adopt" adults.

An "adopt-a-grandparent" program at the school began a year and a half ago with the cooperation of the Graystone Convalescent Center, a nursing home for older adults that is located behind the school's playing field. The children visit their classroom's "grandparent" at the home, sometimes for parties and sometimes to sing and dance for him or her. The adults reciprocate by volunteering as teacher aides and are designated "silver-thread volunteers."

According to Doris Cameron, counselor at the elementary school and coordinator of the program, an after-school club of about eight 5th graders also visits the nursing home one day each week with a parent.

"When a child walks into this building, he causes a celebration," Beth Murphy told a local reporter, adding that the visits make the residents feel important. Ms. Murphy is the activities director at the Graystone Convalescent Center and co-founder of the program.

"The grandparents of the youngest children are in their late 40's," Ms. Cameron says. "The children are exposed to people who are much older [approximately 60-95 years old]. They can see how much they are like these adults, who also need to be cared for and need to be loved.''

One of the benefits derived by the children, she adds, is that they ''get to be enjoyed. Here are people who have the time to enjoy children."

A handbook that describes how another school might begin the program and lists possible activities has been prepared by the school.

For further information, contact Doris Cameron, Counselor, Gilbert Heights Elementary School, 12839 S.E. Holgate Boulevard, Portland, Ore. 97236.

Can a teacher improve the reading and mathematics skills of young students, increase their interest in schoolwork, and improve their images of themselves--all without saying a word?

Teachers at the Maxwell Elementary School in Duarte, Calif., say it is possible, if the person devising the lessons is Judi Garratt, a professional mime who for three years has worked with the school's children and teachers. Ms. Garratt was formerly the president of the Los Angeles Mime Guild and has been cited by the California legislature for her exemplary teaching of students in the elementary grades.

Support for her program in this school came initially from the California Arts Council; now federal Title I funds support the program.

Using her theater, dance, and mime skills, Ms. Garratt draws the students, many of whom speak English as a second language, into "conversations" without words. She has tailored her lessons to such subjects as social studies, science, English, and mathematics.

Under her direction, the students even write and produce video and super-8 films; for these, they write the shooting scripts, organize the story boards, and memorize parts.

The students of her lessons, one teacher reported, learn to have confidence in themselves and in their abilities. This is one of Ms. Garratt's goals, along with developing in the children some appreciation for the arts.

Ms. Garratt has begun "team teaching" with the school's classroom teachers and encourages them to develop their own uses of the arts in their particular subject.

Ms. Garratt's recently published book, Learning Through Mime/Creative Dramatics: Quiet Creativity in the Classroom, includes 78 of her lessons as well as supplementary material on the art of mime. The book is available for $5.30 prepaid from Performing Tree Inc., 1320 West 3rd St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90017.

For further information, contact Judi Garratt, c/o Goldstein Management Associates, P.O. Box 6135, Glendale, Calif. 91205; (213) 450-1969.

I have a lot of funny friends, They are so funny The fun never ends; And they make the day sunny. By Scott Hall 3rd Grade

Growing was fun,I loved it a ton, When someone picked me, It didn't tickle, Now I'm so sour, For now I am a pickle. By Chris Hess 8th Grade

These poems are selections from the annual literary magazine written by the students of Hamburg Public School in Hamburg, N.J. Each September, students in grades 1 through 8 are invited to begin work on literary pieces or photographs for that year's edition. The 300-student school district has just printed its third annual edition.

This year, the children raised more than enough money to cover the production of the 36-page booklet. The publication was one of several school activities that were funded by the sale of jewelry. In previous years, the board of education supplemented the funds that the children earned themselves for the project.

James P. Kane, superintendent of the school district, is the adviser and editor of the magazine. He says that he asks the children to revise their work sometimes and works closely with them, so that this task is not added to the teachers' workload.

Mr. Kane believes the publication reinforces students' desire to do well in school. They work diligently on the pieces and are rewarded when they see their name and creative work printed in a book that is distributed to the entire school and to interested adults in the region.

For more information, contact James P. Kane, Superintendent, Hamburg Public School, Linwood Avenue, Hamburg, N.J. 07419.

--Tricia Furniss

Word of innovative, effective programs may be sent to SCHOOLS: WHAT WORKS, Education Week, 1333 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., #560, Washington, D.C. 20036. (When writing to others for more details, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)

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