New digs

Students at the Ndukumbana Primary School in South Africa enjoy their new desks and computers provided by the Coalition for Effective Local Democracy in Garrett County.

GRANTSVILLE — The world is about to get a little smaller for students at Grantsville and Crellin elementary schools. Tracie Miller, principal at Grantsville Elementary, and Dana McCauley, principal at Crellin Elementary, recently participated in a Zoom meeting with Ngesi Mphanthi, principal of Ndukumbana Primary School in a traditional tribal area outside of King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, to discuss the possibility of regular interaction between students in Garrett County and South Africa.

Tim Watson, school counselor, and Vianne Bell, trustee at Garrett College and board member of the Coalition for Effective Local Democracy, organized the meeting. Additional participants from South Africa included students, parents and members of the school governing board. This was a major event in their village, to talk via Zoom with people in America.

Follow-up discussions are taking place to organize what is hoped to be weekly interactions between the schools. “We feel like there will be so many advantages to this program,” Watsaon said.

Plans are for Kelli Frantz’s fourth grade class at Grantsville and Brittany German’s fifth grade class at Crellin to hold weekly Zoom meetings with students in South Africa. “I am very excited about what the children will learn from their new friends in South Africa and hope to participate or observe one of their interactions,” said Barbara Baker, superintendent of Garrett County Public Schools.

“The Diversity Program has been such a success that this was a natural progression,” Bell said. “The children of Garrett County have enjoyed the Garrett College International Students and their discussions. The children have asked many thoughtful interesting questions. This project has been rewarding on many levels.”

CELD provided 10 laptop computers to Ndukumbana Primary School earlier this year along with funds to upgrade security at the school, build a safe charging station for the computers, rewire the school, help upgrade the electricity in the school and install an internet tower. This is the first school in their area to have access to computers. Children are flocking to Ndukumbana so they can learn how to use them, which will provide the students with unlimited opportunities to learn about their world. The students are anxious to learn as much as they can and they are very excited about interacting directly with students in America, school officials said.

Students in Garrett County are fortunate that each student has access to a computer. The growing numbers of students at Ndukumbana Primary School only have 10 computers to share. CELD is raising money to increase the number of computers and enhance internet connectivity at the Ndukumbana Primary School. To learn more, visit www.celd.org.

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