$10,000 gift sends kids on D.C. trip.

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Byline: Matthew Bruun

FITCHBURG - When Marilyn M. Beach saw that school officials were looking for donations to help pay for homeless students to take part in a class trip to Washington, D.C., she picked up the phone.

Ms. Beach worked in Fitchburg schools in the 1970s as a guidance counselor and an early childhood consultant, and she also taught early childhood education at Fisher College. The Lancaster resident said she still feels a strong connection to Fitchburg. She is retired from a career as a psychological counselor in private practice.

After reading the appeal for donations in a local newspaper, she talked to Kate Martin, the grants administrator for the district, about the number of students who needed financial help. The trip costs $500 per person.

Six homeless students had hoped to make the trip, along with many other students who had tried to raise money on their own but fell short of the goal.

So Ms. Beach sent $10,000.

"I thought it would be a nice thing to do," she said from her home yesterday.

Jennifer Fischer, interim assistant principal at B.F. Brown Arts Vision School, has been organizing Washington trips for 14 years.

There always have been homeless students in the city schools, she said, and many of them would never be able to make a trip such as the journey planned for June 10 through 13 to the nation's capital. In addition to visiting such landmarks as the White House, the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, and Arlington National Cemetery, the trip provides a bonding opportunity for eighth-graders from the city's four middle schools before they join one another in high school.

There are 155 eighth-graders signed up for the trip.

"Out of that 155, I'd say 20 of them have been helped out by this woman," Ms...

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