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Published: Wednesday, 2/14/2007

$150 grant provides a noteworthy project

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

For those who apply for and receive financial grants, a $150 reward might not seem like much.

But for a special needs class at Perrysburg Junior High School, the $150 grant it received from the Perrysburg Schools Foundation gave eight students an opportunity to better connect with their surroundings.

Since September, a work-study elective class of eight students who are mildly retarded, autistic, or lacking in verbal skills has been recycling paper in the classrooms.

Molly Fisher, one of the three teachers of the class along with Carrie Butler and Kelly Delp, said the students looked for paper with one blank side to be reused for little notepads and distributed to the teachers and the staff.

But once the selection process was finished, it was up to the teachers to cut the paper into squares and tie little bundles together with string.

All three teachers believed the students would benefit if the process was enhanced, so Ms. Fisher applied for the grant to buy a device that would take the notepad making to a new level.

Called the Ellison Pad-It, the machine enables the students to make notepads fashioned after the popular Post-It stationary pads.

Ms. Fisher said she found the Pad-It while surfing the Internet and discovered another Ellison device the school already owned that allows students to safely cut the paper into creative shapes.

The students have been using the new machines for several weeks, and their teacher said she has noticed a great improvement in their attitudes toward the work.

"One student the other day told me he thought this was an important job now," Ms. Fisher said. "It's more of a real job for them instead of just helping us tie some paper together with string."

During the final period of each school day, a few of the students go to different classrooms and collect recycled paper. The others are either helping to put the notepads together or working with another recycling project involving aluminum cans.

Ms. Fisher said the students rotate jobs and have made at least 10 notepads each week.

She said that those pads are distributed throughout the building.

At least one junior high staffer is thrilled when a new notepad lands in her mailbox.

"Oh, yeah, I use those things constantly," said Robin Laird, the school's assistant principal. "We all write so many notes all day long."

Ms. Laird said she was happy with the work being done in the work-study class for more than just the note pads.

"Recycling is such a needed thing and it's important for them to learn that, but part of this is learning to be good citizens and picking up great work skills," Ms. Laird said. "And now they get to see the fruits of their labor."



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