It was a 20-minute drive from the oceanfront luxury of the gated community where Ronnie and Antonia Meade live to a heavily patrolled, fenced in area off Fox Hill Road where some 20 students go to school but it took less than a minute for the two worlds to connect and for the kindness of one to touch the hearts of the other.
The Meades, who have quietly donated more than 400 mini iPads over the years, agreed to make one donation public when they heard of the tough breaks some of the kids at the Penn-Pratt Co-ed School had faced.
“We were told that the school had finally gotten the internet but the computers were so old they couldn’t support the internet,” said Meade. “The person who knew about the situation reached out to us but insisted that we come to the school and see for ourselves.”
What they saw were students whose initial scepticism turned to disbelief then to joy as Principal of the school Joseph Rolle explained the 10 wrapped mini iPads were a gift for them.
The kids — girls who live at the Willaemae Pratt Centre and boys who live at Simpson Penn, gender segregated facilities for students often referred by the courts — were thrilled but Meade looked around the classroom used as an assembly hall and said 10 was not enough.
“How many students are there?” he asked.
Twenty, he was told.
“We will deliver 10 more next week so every student may have one.”
“You mean, like for us personally, our own,” said Joann (not her real name), soft, incredulous.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Meade. “You can put your own stickers on the back so you know it is yours and you can keep it when you graduate. We will make sure other students get them.”
As cellophane ripped away like thin paper on Christmas morning, the seniors gathered around Mrs. Meade. She sat at a table to demonstrate showing the students, one by one, how to use the new technology. Only two of them had seen an iPad, but all new exactly what it was and what they wanted to do with it first, download music.
“The Meades’ kindness today, the 10 mini iPads they donated, will help open up the world to you,” said the woman who coordinated the gift. ”
At last you will be able to compete with students in other schools, enter an essay contest, apply for a scholarship, even study for a spelling bee. You will have access to all the world and the information and knowledge that students all over that world have. That is only because of the request of one faculty member who pleaded on your behalf and the kindness of one family, the Meades.”
Applause was so loud it nearly drowned out Joann’s words. She drew closer, her eyes more liquid as she looked up at Mrs. Meade and just above a whisper, said “Thank you. This is the best gift I ever got.”
Submitted By Diane Phillips and Associates
Caption: Long-time residents donate iPads to Penn Pratt Students – Students of the Williaemae Pratt and Simpson Penn Schools recently received iPads during a presentation at the school by long-time residents Ronnie and Antonia Meade. Pictured (l-r) are Paul Sattem; Emily Demeritte; Diane Phillips; Joseph Rolle, Principal; Mr. and Mrs. Meade. (Photo by Jazmine McPhee for DPA.)