- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005

Dozens of volunteers turned their holiday weekend into a time for community service by helping a D.C. charter school move into a new building that its students will be able to call their own.

As a part of the national effort to honor the memory of Martin Luther King , about 40 volunteers spent the holiday weekend moving the William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts into its permanent location at 705 Edgewood St. NE.

The volunteers, many of whom are with Greater DC Cares, helped school officials move desks and bookshelves from a building at 2917 8th St. NE, where the charter school began classes last September.

“We’ll have everything ready,” said Julie Doar-Sinkfield, the school’s executive director and daughter of the community and education developer for whom the school is named. “We designed it.”

Thanks to the volunteers’ help, the school will be ready for its 160 students by 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

The move began on Saturday when more than 40 volunteers carried school equipment out of the school’s temporary location. Yesterday, the volunteers, who included students’ parents, school administrators and teachers, spent most of the day unpacking at the new building.

Sach Constantine, 36, with his wife and their son, Jorah, were among the volunteers yesterday.

“He is just 1 year old. Martin Luther King’s birthday was really on January 15, and that’s when our son was born,” said Mr. Constantine, who quit his former government counseling job to teach at Doar.

Tomorrow, the students at Doar, which offers classes from pre-kindergarten through the fifth grade, will resume studies in reading, writing, math, science and history. The school also offers courses in music, drama, dance and the arts.

“Exposure to the arts has been shown to be important,” Mrs. Doar-Sinkfield said. “Kids learn better. It improves their reading.”

“All rooms will have a computer,” she said, pointing to a room full of computers, which she said would be loaded onto carts to be taken to classes when more than one computer was needed.

Each year, another grade level will be added until the school’s enrollment is 1,200 students through high school.

“This is not a neighborhood school,” said Mrs. Doar-Sinkfield, explaining that parents must drop off, pick up or arrange transportation to and from school for their children.

Parents must pay fees to permit their children to stay until 6:15 p.m. and be supervised after school. The parents also volunteer at least 20 hours each year, often working with teachers. Retired persons trained in literacy will help monitor students and aid those who are having trouble.

As result of the arts studies, Doar will put on shows, mostly in music and dance. Besides the arts, the children learn sign language, which they may demonstrate during the shows.

Doar was conceived and founded by Mrs. Doar-Sinkfield, Arts Partnership Director Mary Robbins, and School Director Nadia Casseus, all of whom had worked as teachers at a charter school in Montgomery County.

After D.C. school officials approved the creation of Doar, Mrs. Doar-Sinkfield began enrolling students on the second floor of her 100-year-old home on 14th Street at Arkansas Avenue NW.

She and her husband, Rick Sinkfield, a lawyer for an education firm in Baltimore, have a 10-year-old son, Hunter, who is a fourth-grader at Doar.

As part of this year’s planned activities, Greater DC Cares and its partners will host the “Knowledge is Power” Book Drive through Jan. 31 to benefit the D.C. Creative Writing Workshop and Doar.

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