Witold Czartoryski and Virginia Batte were best of friends, but hadn't seen each other for two years until Saturday at their school reunion.
They were quiet, didn't say much to each other and shyly stayed separated as their mothers gossiped and caught up on the past. "Shetalks about him all the time," said Virginia's mother, Leslie Batte.
"They both look like brother and sister," said Witold's mother, Pauline Czartoryska, adding that Virginia's new short haircut probablythrew her son off.
Like all school reunions, it was a time to reminisce and brag, to see old friends and talk about new ones. But mostof the "alumni" of this school were under the age of 10. Called graduates, they came together Saturday for the 20th birthday of their nursery school and kindergarten.
Of course, for most graduates, catching up meant playing in a sandbox or on the swings. There was no needto show off resumes or worry about aged bodies.
"It's a child's first experience to school," said Missy Tate, who founded the Weems Creek Nursery School and Kindergarten 20 years ago with 57 children. "The parents always remember this time."
The school, located in an old red brick building on Kirkley Road in Annapolis, has expanded to include kindergarten. There are six teachers and more than 100 children. Tate, who still is president of the school, no longer serves as director. A gospel singer, she travels and gives concerts to the elderly.
Over the years, the school has been a special place for parentsand students alike. For Witold and Virginia, both 6, the school has meant a lasting friendship. Both children, who attended the school in1987 and 1988, nodded their heads when asked if they still were bestof friends.
Even older children had memories of their first school. For 13-year-old Laurie Clautice, who went to the school when she was 3, 4 and 5, it meant her first crush. "There was a boy I liked andI was the only girl in the whole class to be invited to his birthdayparty," she said.
Many families have had more than one child graduate from Weems Creek. Louisa-Marie Shapiro's daughter, Rachael, justgot out of the school last year, and Rachael's sister, 2-year-old Maddline, is a current student.
"It's really a kid-oriented school,"Shapiro said. "It means a lot to us."
Tate said her memories revolve around trees planted by the students each year on Earth Day, a continuing reminder of all the children who passed through. "Just watching children grow and trees grow is very memorable to me," she said.
Two trees stand out. One is a Wye Oak, planted from an oak tree onthe Eastern Shore the first year the school opened. It serves as a centerpiece in front of the school building.
The second tree was planted in the memory of Vincent Marcus Jones, a student who died in 1981 when he was hit by a car in Annapolis.
But most of the memoriesare good ones. Ashley Davis, 5, couldn't wait to get to the reunion and see old friends.
"She wanted to be here," said her father, Bill. "She was thinking about it all year. She missed the place. It is terrific. It's an opportunity to see everybody. She's having fun. It'snot what you and I would consider fun at an alumni party."