Have you ever noticed the amazing similarities between Glen Burnie and France? Think about this for a moment and you may see that in manyways we are like a sister city to Paris.
* Paris has the Eiffel Tower as a major landmark, and Glen Burniehas the Empire Towers. Consider how often you give directions that include the Empire Towers:
"Go one block past the Empire Towers andturn left." (I have a source deep within the Federal Aviation Administration who swears that pilots searching for BWI often use this building as a guide.)
* Granted that Paris may have French cuisine butthink about how many french fries are sold in the 21061 zip code. And what about that croissant breakfast sandwich deal over at Dunkin' Donuts?
* La Fountain Bleu.
And of course we have 11 students from the Camille See School in Paris visiting our community. Yes, real French students.
The students arrived with their teacher, Nicole Genet, last week. In addition to a sightseeing agenda that includes Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, the students will spend time at Glen Burnie Senior High and Marley and Corkran middle schools.
Charlie Day, chairman of the language department at GBSH, has been workingfor months to help coordinate the visit for the French students.
"This is a wonderfully enthusiastic group," said Day. "They really are an educational resource as well as a source of enrichment."
The response to Day's request for host families was very positive. In theend, there weren't enough exchange students to go around.
Although the students have a schedule of activities provided by their tour company, the host families are also planning entertainment including visits to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the new baseball stadium and even a trip to see this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
All of the exchangestudents have a basic command of English, so communication with their hosts is not a problem.
"They're exposed to so much English in France, through the movies and music," explained Day.
The Callahan family in Marley is one of the host families. Dee Callahan and her daughters Bridget, 15, and Caitlin, 13, are sharing their home with 15-year-old Sonia Haziza.
"It's just like having another teen-ager inthe house," said Dee, laughing. "It's amazing how universal being a teen-ager is. You have to remind them to pick up their clothes off the floor and to bring their dishes into the kitchen."
The girls enjoy doing many of the same things -- music, shopping and going to the movies. A trip to the mall is as impressive as a trip to our nation'scapital.
Bridget says the only point of contention so far has been a daily discussion on Sonia's continual reference to pants as "trousers."
"We're the same age, so we're really not that different," said Bridget. "But it's interesting learning about the different culture, how it's similar and (how) it's different."
How is Sonia finding life in Glen Burnie? Besides American cookies and milkshakes, she is most impressed with Glen Burnie High.
"I like the school, because you change persons every time you change class. The teachers and the students have a great relationship. We don't have that kind of relationship with our teachers. (Glen Burnie is) more relaxed, less formal. The teachers are interested in letting you express yourself," said Sonia.
At the same time, Sonia is amused by American students wearing shorts to school.
"We would never go to school in shorts," she said firmly.
Bridget and Sonia hope to continue their friendship once the visit is over. They plan to write to one another, and Bridget is already calculating how much it will cost to fly to Paris.
Other Glen Burnie students acting as hosts for their French counterparts are: Sara Clauss, who is host for Magali Beaume; Amy Kreglow, Florence Goguel; Janine King, Marjerie Daudignon; Michelle Kryger, Valerie Fougeres; Heidi Kuegel, Jeanne Pomasini; Natalie Ateto, Sarra Saada; Buffy Newton, Marie Lauregandon; Kevin Morgan, Delphine Sahler; Shari Brooks, Morgan Gossart; Mike Ackerman, Alexandra Chestnet.
Thestudents will continue their stay through May 7.
Did Patricia Evan and Chuck Plitt continue dating following their graduation from Glen Burnie High School in 1972? Would Mr. Humphries continue as a guidance counselor after he had experienced guiding the Class of '72?Would radio personality Johnny Dark survive rock 'n' roll, disco, rap and Mick Jagger becoming a grandfather?
For the answer to these and other important questions that have been nagging you for a coupleof decades, make arrangements to attend the Class of 1972's 20-year reunion weekend June 13 and 14.
Tickets are still available for the dinner dance Saturday, June 13, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Michael's Eighth Avenue.
The admission price of $30 includes a hot buffet, beer, soft drinks and dancing to music provided by disc jockey Johnny Dark. Effective May 1, the ticket price will increase to $35 per person.
A family picnic has been planned for June 14 from 1 p.m. to dusk at Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena.