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Schools: What Works

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A student caught writing a letter to a friend during class in Clarkston, Wash., is more likely to be complimented than reprimanded.

In a project that involves the entire school district, one 4th-grade class operates a postal system that delivers letters written by students of every age to their recipients in other buildings and classrooms.

Teachers throughout the district assign letter writing to improve students' spelling and ability to organize information. The teachers may ask their students to synopsize information from lectures in their assigned letters.

The project was started last year by Glenn E. Rotz, a 4th-grade teacher at Highland Elementary School who wanted to motivate his students to spell well by giving them an interesting reason to write.

He says students write to friends, often to English teachers, and sometimes to a whole class--such as a science class--when they want help or advice on a project.

Mr. Rotz says his class has delivered every letter to date to the proper destination in the school system, which includes three elementary schools, one junior high school and one senior high school. His students spend 10 minutes each day sorting approximately 50 pieces of mail. "The kids are totally in charge of it," he adds.

For more information, write Glenn E. Rotz, Highland Elementary School, 5th and Highland Streets, Clarkston, Wash. 99403.


Parents of "gifted" children will find both encouragement and exhortation in a booklet from Roeper City and Country School, a private school in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., that is known for its work with children of outstanding mental abilities.

The school printed the pamphlet, entitled "Parenting Gifted Children," to send to parents whose children do not attend the school. The school receives numerous inquiries about gifted children, and its staff thought a booklet might be a convenient way to reply to some of them.

The booklet offers a list of characteristics that many gifted children share and offers suggestions for fostering the children's capabilities.

For a free copy of "Parenting Gifted Children," write Roeper School, P.O. Box 329, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 48013. [Please do not telephone the school.]


At North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., the mothers of graduates have formed their own "alumni" association.

The North Side High School Mothers Alumni Club began 50 years ago as a way of retaining friendships formed in the school's parent-teacher association.

These days, its roughly 40 members choose from suggestions for projects that they solicit from the administrators and teachers.

Recently, the women have used the group's membership dues and money from "silent auctions" for scholarships, musical instruments, and band uniforms, as well as for gifts for foreign-exchange students.

The school arranges luncheon talks by teachers or students and entertainment by the school's performing groups during the monthly meetings of the club.

For more information, write Ruth Coleman, President, North Side High School Mothers Alumni Club, c/o North Side High School, 475 East State Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Ind. 46805.


One school district in Ohio has reduced its "out-of-school suspension" rate by over 50 percent by allowing suspended students to attend detention sessions on Saturdays in lieu of missing days of school.

Peter Loehr, the superintendent of the Newton Falls Exempted Village School District, wanted fewer suspensions this year than last, when 412 "suspended days" were assigned to 173 of his 828 junior- and senior-high students. This past fall, students chose Saturday sessions instead of 73 days out of school.

To foster "productive respect" for school attendance, Mr. Loehr counsels the students and confers with their parents during the four-hour sessions. He is working with school counselors to monitor more closely the students who are held back a grade; such students, statistics show, frequently develop truancy problems.

For more information, write Peter Loehr, Superintendent of Schools, Newton Falls Exempted Village School District, 30 North Center Street, Newton Falls, Ohio 44444.

--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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