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East (of river) meets West (of park)

Parents see joint school auction as symbolic beginning

(Published January 22, 2001)


Staff Writer

In an effort that some local parents hope will go far beyond symbolism, "east of the Anacostia River" is about to meet "west of Rock Creek Park" – and a 7-foot grandfather clock is being specially designed to tell the story, as well as time.

The grandfather clock, shaped liked a miniature Washington Monument and currently under construction as a community project, is expected to be a centerpiece item at a spring auction to benefit two D.C. elementary schools – Bernard Janney in Northwest Washington and Anne Beers in Southeast.

Parents involved in planning the auction hope to raise at least $40,000 for each school to enhance educational programs, but they also see their efforts as a symbolic beginning – bringing together city residents who are often portrayed as deeply divided but who actually share common concerns and goals.

"When I look across the city and what lies between us, I think of the mall – it’s what brings us together, and geographically that’s our center," said Lee Coykendolf, a Janney parent and co-creator of the monumental clock.

The clock includes a representation of the scaffolding that was wrapped around the monument for much of its recent construction project.

"It shows that the monument and the school board are both under construction," said Gary Rosenthal, another Janney parent and local artist. He said the clock is a good symbol to represent the project, the children and the community.

Made of metal and fused glass, the clock’s structure will display the children’s artwork, signatures and personal statements. Rosenthal said that "every kid from each school can point to their name and say that they were a part of it." Alongside the names of 1,000 students, parents are looking forward to support from Mayor Anthony A. Williams, as well as local celebrities, to assist with the project.

Bernard Janney Elementary School, located at 4130 Albermarle St. NW, celebrates its 20th anniversary PTA Auction by combining its efforts this year with Anne Beers Elementary School, located at 3600 Alabama Ave. SE.

"It’s good to leave your back yard sometimes," said Barbara Maguire-Sloss, a Janney parent and former auction chairperson, whose idea it was to combine the talents of both schools. She will work as part of the steering committee to determine the events that the schools will participate in.

Parents from both schools are represented on each planning committee and meet weekly to discuss issues, as well as relate their progress. The next meeting for the Beers-Janney auction planners will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Anne Beers Elementary School Library, 3600 Alabama Ave. SE. It is open to the public and all are invited to attend. More information also is available by visiting the Hillcrest neighborhood Web site at or posting questions at

"We want to make this 50-50, from the proceeds to the effort," said Beers parent Gregg Rhett, a communications coordinator for the project.

Finding a PTA that was as equally motivated as Janney Elementary School came from the idea of wanting to "break out of the neighborhood to have a greater impact," said Janney parent and Rhett’s communications counterpart, Frank Fitzmaurice. The idea evolved into a citywide effort that will impact twice as many children and the community around them.

"It was like a burst of ‘wow.’ We saw the possibilities from one big effort," said Rhett of his surprised initial response when Beers’ students were asked to participate. "We are expanding from the nucleus."

"Two communities from opposite ends of the city working together," said Juan Thompson, a Beers parent and steering committeeman. Thompson remarked that this is the first time that "two communities of equal income have come together" in the years since he and his wife attended, and he is excited that his children will get to both participate and benefit from the project.

Janney and Beers elementary schools want the proceeds to enhance programs already in existence, and create new ones as well. Both schools want basic items such as textbooks and classroom supplies but also want to build upon their arts and science programs.

"We want quality public schools for all children," said Maguire- Sloss.

The auction will be March 31 at World Bank headquarters at 18th and H streets NW.

"We want a goal of approximately 400 items for people to bid on," said Janney parent Carolyn Bowers, who co-chairs the Solicitations Committee, which continues to seek more items for the auction. There will be both a silent and regular auction. "We are still at the gathering stages," said Bowers.

While the children may reap the educational benefits and buyers receive auctioned items, the parents on each school’s committee will earn a reward as well. "We get to attend a stand-up buffet at the Marriott hotel," said Thompson, noting their efforts are getting some corporate support.

The parents all agreed that the joint effort is something that they enjoy and look forward to continuing in the future.

"We found our kindred spirits on the other side of the river," said Fitzmaurice.

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator