I abandoned my foreign language education the year before the entireclass went to France for a two-week field trip, yet another testament to my impeccable timing. With the exception of the time a dog sneaked into the classroom (prompting my French teacher to jump on her desk and scream "Canine! Canine!"), my memories of the classes generallyrun to more mundane things -- dialogue concerning the location of the train station, the weather at the train station and the names of the people on their way to the train station (usually Madame Duvall andJacques).
Fortunately for a new generation of students, the foreign language teachers at Glen Burnie Senior are working to help make the study of French, Spanish and German an interesting experience.
Sixty-eight Glen Burnie High students are involved in the county's Language Experience program at six area elementary schools: Point Pleasant, Richard Henry Lee, Quarterfield, Oakwood, Glendale and Freetown.
The program is designed to acquaint young children with a foreign language through games and other fun activities led by a teamof high school students.
Charlie Day, Glen Burnie's language department chairman, is coordinating this year's program.
"We work with a variety of age levels in the first through fifth grade, usually in the second semester," he said. "Our students visit the elementary schools once a week, after their own regular classes are over. We try to keep it fun with basic language skills, greetings, colors and numbers.
"We've found that the earlier exposure to a foreign language, themore they enjoy the entire language experience. The program is about10 years old and many of the students in the program now participated in the LEX program when they were in elementary school."
The students in Marybeth Tracey's second-grade class at Point Pleasant Elementary seem to agree that a foreign language can be fun. Every Friday afternoon as 2 p.m. approaches, they get ready for "teachers" Terrie Busker and Norman Baur. Putting their books away, they take out theirnew German name tags. For one half-hour each week, David is Lars, Travis is Kurt, Carrie is Monika and Chastity is Sonja.
"They reallylook forward to this," said Tracey. "In addition, I work with them throughout the week to reinforce what they've learned."
The high school students participate in the LEX program on their own time, outside regular school hours. There is no extra credit involved.
"I want to emphasize that these students do this on a volunteer basis. Theyget nothing but a pat on the back," Day said.
The LEX teachers inTracey's classroom participate because they enjoy the experience.
"Yes, it's fun to do," said Baur. "I heard kids come back last year
saying how much fun it was, and I thought I'd try it. I plan to come back next year and continue."
Terrie Busker agrees. Last week she worked on colors with the children, combining art with language and "trying to match the dittos to the color names on the board to the crayons. The kids were great."
The LEX program will continue in the schools for three more weeks. C'est la vie.
Since this is the last Wednesday in February, perhaps we should start preparing ourselves for spring. Dig out the running-walking-aerobic-tennis shoes you bought at Price Club and tossed under the bed. Kill any dust bunnies. Locate your bike in the garage behind the Mr. Christmas Tree and the snow tires. Go out and buy a color-coordinated athletic suit that matches your shoes, your bike and the newest accessory -- the bike helmet. Then you're invited to hit the B & A Trail, the county's only linear park.
The trail follows the route of the old Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad. It travels 13.3 miles, starting just north of Route 50 at Bolter's Way and ending at Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie. Since its opening last October, the trail already has become the most popular park in the county.
"I would have no problem saying that 1,000 peopleuse this park every day," park superintendent David Dionne said. "People use the park to go to school, to work, shopping and for senior exercise hiking programs."
The park also offers slide presentationsand discussions to scout groups and community organizations about the history of the railroad and the trail. Rangers Sharon Alfinito and Bruce Miller coordinate the various programs and are on hand to give children's groups a nature walk and guided tour along the trail.
To schedule a tour or for a free "I Brake for the B & A Trail" bumper sticker, call 222-6244.
The competition cheerleading squad of the Anne Arundel Gridiron Rebels youth organization jumped, tossed andyelled their way to first place in last weekend's competition at theUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Lisa Phillips, the squad's coach, was justifiably proud of the girls.