The auditorium at Van Bokkelen Elementary School in Severn shook with the clapping hands, stomping feet and treble voices of more than 400 students Wednesday, celebrating the kickoff of a new anti-drug program sponsored by the Odenton Kiwanis Club.
Operation "Know To Say No" aims to give kindergarteners through fourth-graders the tools they need to resist peer pressure and other influences to take drugs.
Master of ceremonies Jack Feick got the children motivated by having them chant "Know To Say No." The assembly also featured "Say No," a game similar to "Jeopardy!" in which children answered questions about drug and alcohol use.
The children were awarded T-shirts for their correct answers. Every student at the assembly received a head band and a kit containing a pencil, stickers, coloring sheets and two pledge cards.
The students sign the cards, pledging to lead a drug-free life. They then drop these in a mailbox also provided by the program. One pledge will be sent to President George Bush and the other to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
A clown was on hand to entertain the children and stress that drugs are nothing to joke about. Commander Mike Langley, a Navy jet pilot, explained "you don't need drugs to fly high."
Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) from Meade High School led the children in a loud and enthusiastic version of "If You're Drug Free And You Know It Clap Your Hands."
It takes a lot of planning to conduct an assembly of this nature. "It's hard to believe that it will all come together so well, but it does," said John Byrnes, the Know To Say No Kiwanis Division chairman.
Support from the principal and other faculty members is very important.
Charles Owens, principal of Van Bokkelen, and guidance counselor Betty Isom were instrumental in pulling the program together. They will be keeping track of the pledge cards and strive for 100 percent participation from the children.
The Kiwanis Club plans to sponsor more of these assemblies at other area elementary schools.
The West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce sponsored its 29th annual Meet Your Neighbor Dinner Oct. 5 at the Fort Meade Officers Club.
Approximately 100 business men and women attended not only to meet their fellow neighbors but also to honor the Policeman of the Year, Fireman of the Year and Business of the Year.
Capt. George Andrews of the Western District presented Officer Stephen McBee from the Western District Police Station with the Policeman of the Year award.
"It is a very tough job to pick one officer, but Officer McBee is loyal, dedicated and totally professional all the way," Andrews said.
McBee has been with the county police department for 11 years, and currently serves in the overlap squad.
This shift runs from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., Andrews said, and "is the busiest shift in the entire county." Since January, McBee has made 35 criminal arrests, 37 drunk driving arrests and given over 500 traffic citations.
"Every officer hopes they can achieve this honor in their career," McBee said as he accepted the plaque.
The next award was presented by Chief Harry Wagner of the Odenton Volunteer Fire Department to Fireman of the Year Charles Edward Scott.
Scott is a resident of Glen Burnie and has been with the Odenton Volunteer Fire Department since August 1988. He holds certificates in several areas, is a certified EMT, is chairman of the fire prevention committee and handles the annual Christmas Party.
The Business of the Year was awarded to Geoff Johnson of the Johnson Insurance Agency. Mr. Johnson started in the insurance business in June 1976. His company handles over 1,500 policies, including over 200 commercial policies. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the Life Underwriters Training Council.
He is an active board member and chaplain of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, served as president in 1983 and 1984 and has served on numerous committees. Other community involvement includes teaching Sunday school at his church and lifetime membership in the Greater Odenton Improvement Association.
U.S. Representative Tom McMillen was the guest speaker for the evening.
McMillen discussed the federal budget, its impact on federal workers and the oil crisis. He also congratulated the chamber for its growth and the outstanding job they have done in the community.
The chamber's recent membership drive, chairman Carl Nanny told the audience, "was a success. Since Oct. 11, 1989, the membership has more than doubled."
The President's Award, for achievement during the membership drive, went to Donna Salisbury from Odenton Office Supply. The WAACCOC Chamber Maids, with team captain Jerry Boyer, were named the winning team in the membership drive.
Pianist Riley Eldridge provided the entertainment for the evening.