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3 local schools win $30,000 from WTOP

J.E.B. Stuart High School won the grand prize of $15,000 in WTOP's Click for Kids contest. (Courtesy of Penny Gros)

WASHINGTON — Principal Penny Gros of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Virginia, tracked the growing number of clicks the school received throughout the WTOP Click for Kids Contest. She was thrilled to learn her school won the top prize of $15,000.

“It’s very exciting. This is money we never would have had access to and it’s going to support our students’ dreams of going to college,” Gros said.

The money will go into the Advancement Via Individual Determination program that provides students with small group tutoring in academically challenging areas. Gros said the elective class also provides some college-ready study and time management skills. She said most of the kids who take AVID elective classes are interested in going to college, but they are not in the highest tracked academic programs.

“Many of our students are the first in their family to graduate from high school, and we do a lot of work around our first-generation students applying for college,” Gros said. “The mission of AVID is to really take kids who have so much potential and just need support to reach that level.”

Gros said the money from Click for Kids campaign will go toward taking AVID students on college visits. This year AVID participants are planning a trip to New England. Once the students see there are college options, it can be life-changing, Gros said.

“We have a big AVID celebration every year and our alumni come back to talk to current students,” Gros said. “Those alumni have gone on to graduate from college and absolutely credit being part of the AVID program as the reason why they got into college, persevered throughout the four years and graduated with a degree.”

Principal Tonya Wassenberg of Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Fairfax said they are thrilled to be the Click for Kids winner of $10,000. She said the money will go right into a fundraising campaign to create a brand-new playground at the school that is accessible to their large population of students with disabilities.

“The big push is to have a playground where everyone can play together,” Wassenberg said.

Some 150 students, 18 percent of Laurel Ridge’s student population, have disabilities. Wassenberg said most of their students with disabilities have sensory issues but some also have mobility challenges.

Wassenberg said the new playground would allow students with disabilities to enter on a ramp; and they would also be able to play on the ground-level structures underneath the taller structures on the playground.

“Our goal over two years is to raise $90,000,” Wassenberg said. “We can have the floor of the playground rubberized, which allows greater ease for students with mobility issues to get around.”

The school began fundraising for the playground at the start of the school year. With the $10,000 winnings, they are now up to $30,000.

“We are well on our way. We are feeling really good about it,” Wassenberg said.

The winner of $5,000 was Arundel Middle School in Odenton, Maryland. Principal George Lindley said they have seen an increase of 250 students over the past three years; and their technological resources have fallen short of the needs. He said the funds will likely cover the cost of 20 new school computers.

“We are going to buy Chromebooks. We will probably get a cart of them, a classroom set,” he said. “We have experienced an explosion in population. It is growing by leaps and bounds. It has been challenging to keep up with the growth, so this will help a great deal.”

More than 250 schools participated in the WTOP Click for Kids contest, with a total of 97,470 votes.


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