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Smoke deflector

Tired of messy restrooms reeking of illicit cigarettes, students at Keystone Oaks High School in suburban Pittsburgh decided to spruce up the facilities--and charge users for the upkeep.

The idea found an audience. A few weeks into the school year, some 30 students had anteed up $25 each to use the brightly painted facilities--one for boys and one for girls--that came with chairs, rugs, and potpourri.

The idea also found a critic. A parent opposed billing for restrooms even though the fee was part of a student-led plan to instill pride and get classmates to agree not to light up.

So late last month, the Northgate district board snuffed out the fees. It did, however, set aside two restrooms for juniors and seniors who agree not to vandalize or smoke in them.

Students in Action, the anti-smoking group that started the effort, hopes to clean up more restrooms in the 1,000-student school.

Principal Scott Hagy said that so far, students have honored their pledges to keep the two restrooms clean and free of cigarettes. "It's working out pretty nice," he said. "They just can't charge. They're looking for donations now."


Ana Marie Mendoza, a 3rd grade teacher at Fenton Avenue Charter School in Lake View Terrace, Calif., says she loves using a microphone in her classroom.

The 46 teachers at the 1,340-student school are provided with $500 headsets and body packs that amplify their voices in the classroom. "I use it all day, except when I'm in a small group," Ms. Mendoza said.

Administrators observed teachers using microphones elsewhere several years ago and decided to pilot the idea with a teacher at Fenton who struggled with laryngitis. The school eventually bought the equipment for all its teachers.

Ms. Mendoza said the microphone saves on voice strain and enhances instruction.

The microphones are a sound investment in more ways than one, said Irene Sumida, a co-director of the school.

"In many classrooms, you'll find that the child who is least attentive is seated in front of the room," she said. "You can't seat every child in front of the room. With the microphone, each child can hear the instructions equally."

--Robert Johnson & Mary Ann Zehr

Vol. 19, Issue 7, Page 3

Published in Print: October 13, 1999, as Take Note

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