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Students collect ‘Pennies for America’

Soon D.C. students in grades six through 12 will be learning about U.S. nation-building efforts around the world and developing a plan to reach out in their own neighborhoods to those affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Their younger counterparts, meanwhile, will join these students in collecting coins for charities to aid those affected by the attacks.

The new curriculum – to be worked into American history, civics, current events, global history, language arts and social studies courses – focuses on how America is currently involved in nation-building in Afghanistan and on previous efforts in other countries.

The curriculum on nation-building, currently "under construction," recommends that students discuss what constitutes a nation and discuss possible ramifications of nation building. The new curriculum will also have students explore potential outcomes of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, illustrate their research and write essays reflecting on how the United States should exercise nation-building in the aftermath of the war against terrorism.

Along with announcing the new curriculum, D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Paul Vance, At-Large Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, local students and teachers on Nov. 19 launched the District’s "Pennies for America" project at Judiciary Square. The students did not waste a moment, collecting money from passers-by in the time before the presentation. After the project was announced, the students were busy collecting once more.

The Pennies for America project is the District’s response to the national campaign launched by First Lady Laura Bush after the terrorist attacks. The students of the city’s public schools will be collecting money in shaker cans distributed by their schools until Dec. 19.

Schwartz emphasized that some of the money collected will stay in the community for those affected by the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The money will also make its way to victims of the anthrax attacks, she said.

Vance called the penny drive "a multi-faceted program that begins with giving money to victims and will teach students a lesson about sharing and helping." Linda Moody, a former school board member who now heads the D.C. Congress of Parent and Teacher Associations, said the penny drive’s organizers "don’t want them to be out there alone" and asked parents, teachers and administrators to supervise and support the students’ collection efforts.—Kristina Gleeson