Spring Garden surprises principal on his 50th NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

NEIGHBORS

February 24, 1993|By PAT BRODOWSKI

The computer-generated signs read like the Burma Shave models of a generation ago:

"I'm a buck -- you're a doe -- Mr. Bair -- is the Big 5-0."

Lots of similar messages were posted yesterday in the corridors of Spring Garden Elementary School. Larry Bair, the principal, had reached the half-century mark. The entire school was in on a surprise birthday celebration.

Mr. Bair found his office stuffed with black balloons. The school foyer was draped in black and white crepe stars and streamers.

Teachers and staff members wore black armbands.

More signs and banners were hung in the school's hallways.

"It's nifty to be 50," said one.

A triangular poster detailed Mr. Bair's age as a pyramid of time. Starting with "26,280,000 minutes" on the bottom, the pyramid climbed quickly upward to "438,000 hours," to "17,250 days," and, finally, to "50 years" and " 1/2 century" at the top.

The 694 school children wore teddy bear coupons. Each teddy would grant the child "a bear hug from a 50-year-old man," said learning resources teacher Loretta Basler.

"We're celebrating all day long," she said.

Mrs. Basler and teachers Marty Dickinson, Jim Robinson and Barbara Boose were co-conspirators who had put their flair for the humorous to work.

"It's a nice big committee," said Mrs. Basler, with glee. "It takes a number of us to do dirty work."

In the afternoon, a bear took the faculty meeting by surprise and shuffled in to deliver Mr. Bair a bear hug of his own. Then the bear sang songs and recited teasing poems written by the staff. Bearing the fur was a PTA parent.

The teachers also gave Mr. Bair a special gift -- a videotape sent by his daughter, who lives in Australia.

"We like him a whole lot, or we wouldn't do this to him," said Mrs. Basler. "He's been a good principal for a long time. He's a good guy."

*

Striped ponchos, floral skirts, bare feet in sandals, and straw sombreros. About 15 teachers and student teachers, 310 kids and 40 volunteer parents dressed their Latin American best for Fiesta Day at North Carroll Middle School last Friday.

There were taste teasers from 113 student chefs, who prepared Latin-American foods while their classmates watched.

Kristen Brodie stirred up a cool guacamole. With the heavy seeds poking through as she stirred the avocado dip, you could see that she'd taken a culinary risk.

Kristen's grandmother, Lois Stout, eagerly spooned the guacamole onto taco chips. Classmates gave the treat a cool reception.

"They don't have adventurous tastes at this age," said Mrs. Stout.

In another room, Andrew Constantinides poured club soda into juices of orange and grape and tossed in cubed apples.

"I didn't know what sangria was until he made it the other day," said his father, John, who was on hand to help out.

Nearly 60 students gave short oral reports about the lives and times of ancient Inca, Maya and Aztec Indians.

Mike Rongione explained Mayan hieroglyphics. This picture language intricately combined plant and animal symbols the Mayas drew as puffy shapes.

He displayed a Mayan codex he'd made. A codex is a book of accordion-pleated paper, Mike said. He'd made his own from folded computer printout paper and bound it in fuzzy leopard skin.

Adam Smith described Mayan occupations, curiously similar to modern ones.

"There were a lot of jobs, but men had the most," he said. "They could be priests, farmers, toolmakers, sculptors. The women made clothing and put food on the table."

In the gym, Steve Shertzer entertained with rope and whip tricks. a professional cowboy who lives and works at River Valley Ranch in Millers. To illustrate the gauchos at work in Argentina, he arrived in his black Western shirt, brass-buckled belt and boots with spurs.

"Thunder spooks cattle quickly. They try to get away. That's known as a stampede," he said, fingering the narrow strand of braided leather known as a bullwhip. "If you can't get 'em turned, they're gonna flatten everything in their path, and that's gonna -- be you."

Whack! he snapped the whip. As the children shook in their seats, he continued, "What the cowboy found out is that the bullwhip works the same way."

Later, the students broke pinatas they'd constructed last week.

"They're loaded," Fiesta Day parent coordinator Sue Rittmeyer said beforehand. "When they burst, it will be bedlam."

Rebecca Dwyer took the lucky smash at one pinata hung by parents Senoras Joanne Diamond and Miriam Biblehimer. What was inside? "Candy!" exclaimed Rebecca.

Fiesta Day culminated six weeks of study of South America, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies by the sixth-grade students and teachers Dave Renaut, Ralph Blevins and Don Abbey.

*

It was a comical whirlwind. While swinging bright green ropes, 277 children spent 180 minutes in a leaping frenzy last week during the Jump Rope for Heart at Spring Garden Elementary. They joined elementary and middle school children throughout Carroll County to benefit the American Heart Association.

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