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School children offer to be 'Kid Helper' for evacuees

From staff reports

The children of Chestnut Hill Academy in Riverdale want to help the federal offices in helping victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The children want to become "Kid Helpers" for the children victimized by Hurricane Katrina by playing with them and helping them with their numbers and sight words, according to a letter from Cheryle Lane, the school's special project coordinator, to FEMA and Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Lane said the students also want the children who have been displaced by the storm to come to the school since their schools are closed down.

"With children, if you can bring some kind of normalcy to their life in times of tragedy it helps them get through it," Lane said.

The children at Chestnut Hill annually raise money for the St. Jude's Children Hospital through the school's community service development here at the school, according to Lane's letter.

"So when I asked the kids what they thought they could do to help the kids victimized by Katrina, what I stated above where there answers," Lane wrote.

The school's director Andra Ross and its owners have decided to open up the doors of the

school for those children stranded here in the surrounding areas. The school sits on 13 acres and offers child-care services for children from 12 months to 12 years. It has a Georgia Lottery Pre-K, Private P3, P4, kindergarten and after-school care.

Chestnut Hill Academy is an accredited learning center that serves Clayton, Fulton and Fayette counties.

Chestnut Hill Academy is a private institution that works with smaller class ratios, Lane said, and the owners are now extending class ratios to facilitate these children. The school has the capacity to serve 116 children and many new students could be placed in classes in the current building. With the help of local and state organizations, Lane said, they can add additional classrooms by getting trailers which will accommodate up to 30 children in every unit.

"We wouldn't even have to move anything (to make room for the trailers,)" Lane said.

Lane, a single parent, wrote that Ross provided her with a place to stay and transportation a few years ago when a fire left her daughter and she homeless.

"That was four years ago" Lane wrote. "Now my daughter is a freshman and received a full scholarship in academics to the school of her choice. I know if parents don't have to worry about their children during this tragedy, that their children are being loved and educated and feed nutritional meals, they can go about re-claiming there lives."

For information on Chestnut Hill Academy call (770) 991-0380.