The first group of participants in the Circle of Change program graduated on Dec. 11 with new workplace skills and a laptop computer.

For 10 weeks, the eight women from Chester and Upper Darby who have been on public assistance for years learned life skills and received computer training and intensive counseling through the program which prepares participants for the workforce.

The program is a collaborative effort between the Delaware County Office of Employment and the Social Work Consultation Services, an agency developed by

Widener University's Center for Social Work Education

in collaboration with the Chester Education Foundation.

Coordinators plan to continue this program next semester with a new set of women who will also receive laptops upon completion.

For more information on the program, call 610-859-6047.

Fourteen students from

Glenwood Elementary School

in Middletown worked with 14 residents of Lima Estates retirement center on a holiday project this month.

Students and residents worked together to create holly wreaths to decorate the hallways at Lima Estates, and then shared milk and cookies afterward.

First graders from

Lakeview Elementary School

in Ridley Park mixed Santa Claus and the courts this month.

Continuing a five-year holiday tradition, Eileen Harkin's class visited Magisterial District Judge Jack Lippart's courtroom in Prospect Park on Dec. 12. The students decorated a tree, ate snacks, listened to Lippart explain courtroom procedures and then sang holiday songs to their surprise visitor, Santa Claus.

Joanne Nicholas from School Health Corporation in Springfield and Chip Miller from Cardiac Science in Gradyville presented a donated automated external defibrillator to Yeadon's

Penn Wood Middle School

last week.

The portable first-aid tool, valued at more than $1,5000, will treat people having a cardiac arrest or other life-threatening heart emergencies.

The William Penn School District's workplace safety committee has been requesting assistance from local legislators, hospitals and businesses to help purchase or donate the machines. The district's goal is to have one machine in each of the its twelve schools. Currently, only two schools have the devices, which they received through state grants.

The Penn Wood Foundation Board of Directors, a registered nonprofit, is supporting the project. Tax-deductible donations can be made payable to Penn Wood Foundation c/o William Penn School District, 100 Green Avenue - Annex Lansdowne, PA 19050.

For more information or to support the project, call Joseph V. Otto at 610-284-8005 ext. 222.

To commemorate its 100th anniversary,

St. Philomena

School

in Lansdowne set out to gather, sort and send 100 gifts to military personnel overseas this month. They almost doubled that goal, with close to 200 gift bags, said Suzi Ulmer, chairperson of the school's centennial committee.

School and parish community members donated toiletries, games, snacks and CDs. Then students sorted the items, bagged them and got them ready for transport. For a personal touch, students made holiday cards for each bag.

Three soldiers from Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey visited the school to thank the students.

Earlier this year, the school's centennial committee hosted a silent and live auction, picnic and carnival, and wine tasting. Other events are scheduled for 2008.

- Ed Mahon