Mayo student wins chance to bend Clinton's ear ANNE ARUNDEL EDUCATION

January 11, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

The telephone seldom stops ringing at Mayo Elementary School these days.

There are calls from local newspapers, from Voice of America, and even a call from Good Morning America.

And all the callers want to talk to Russ.

Russ Pellicot, a fifth-grade student at Mayo, has become a media celebrity, all because of a class assignment in which he wrote a letter to President-elect Bill Clinton and won an opportunity to meet him.

The assignment was part of a contest sponsored in the fall by the Washington Post that asked students to write to the president-elect about their concerns for the nation. Mayo teachers Linda Adamson and Jill Fogle asked Russ and his classmates to enter the contest as part of their class assignment.

The Mayo students were among more than 10,000 from the Washington metropolitan area who entered. And Russ, 10, was among eight winners -- the only one from Anne Arundel County -- who won the chance to meet the president-elect.

"Dear Mr. President," Russ wrote. "I think that America is in a rut. We will need some major help to get out of it. I think that America's three biggest problems are the economy, the environment and the drug problem. America has a $4 trillion debt. I can't conceive how much 4 trillion is and I can't believe that America owes that many dollars. Also, if pollution gets much worse I'll have to put my gas mask to daily use. There is so much drug use that there is a class in a normal school that is completely crack babies. I am really worried about America's future and what will be done about it. I have hope that you, President-elect Clinton, can make the future brighter for the kids of America who will someday be taxpayers. America needs help and I hope we can get it soon. Some people may think that America is fine as it is but we have big problems. If we don't solve these problems soon, America may disappear from civilization forever!"

The day he turned in the letter, Russ remembered "standing in the the lunch line" and telling himself he would win.

"But I didn't really believe it," he said.

But disbelief soon turned to excitement for Russ -- and his teacher and parents -- when he learned he had won.

"When I told my teacher, she was jumping up and down and all that excited stuff teachers do," Russ said. "My parents did some jumping up and down and all that excited stuff parents do. And, I did a lot of jumping up and down, too."

In addition to his new-found celebrity status, Russ, his parents, Bonnie and Wade Pellicot, and his teacher, Mrs. Adamson, have the chance to be part of the pre-inauguration hoopla. They're all going to Washington.

Mr. Clinton has invited the contest winners to join him at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia, or as Russ calls it, "that thing on the back of the nickel," Sunday. The students will meet Mr. Clinton there and join his bus caravan as the president-elect follows Jefferson's route to Washington.

Russ said he plans to give Mr. Clinton a baseball cap bearing the name Mayo Elementary, and maybe something for the president-elect's saxophone.

He also hopes to get the chance to discuss his letter with Mr. Clinton.

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