When special education teacher Sheila Mulcahy saw the budget she had for a summer program for emotionally disturbed students at the Mark Twain School in Rockville, it didn't take her long to do the math: Sixty projected students and a total of $200 meant $3.33 for each student for the three-week Extended School Year program, which Mulcahy coordinates. So Mulcahy canvassed local businesses for donations, raising more than $3,400 in cash and merchandise, including $1,300 worth of donated plants from nurseries for use in a butterfly garden.
Students researched the kinds of flowers butterflies relish and prepared a 200-square-foot plot at the school for the garden. But the searing heat and drought cut their efforts short before the end of the program.
Last week, just before the start of school, the students returned to plant azaleas, lilacs, phlox and other perennial plants to attract butterflies. Science class students will tend the garden during the school year.
Students in the program--sixth-graders through high school juniors--also went rock climbing and canoeing and visited Montgomery College.
Just before the start of the program, Lori Lucky's son, John, 14, was released after a five-month hospitalization for emotional problems.
"The program gave him a structured environment where he could interact with other kids and bond with teachers," Lucky said. "If he hadn't had this program as a transition over the summer, I'm not sure how he would be doing now."
Mulcahy said the Extended School Year program offers students an opportunity to boost their self-esteem and practice interpersonal skills. Students at the Mark Twain School often need help with anger management and conflict resolution.
"We can't tell the students how good they're going to feel and how changed they're going to be by going canoeing or rock climbing," she said. "They have to experience it themselves. You can hear it in their voices, that sense of accomplishment they get."
CAPTION: Teacher Sheila Mulcahy, back, raised funds and donations from businesses for a butterfly garden being built by students at the Mark Twain School in Rockville. Among the students are John Lucky, left, Monique Scott, A.J. Witt and Michael Maphis.