Students bring Dundalk history to life Youngsters build models for fair BALTIMORE COUNTY

March 31, 1993|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

Using toothpicks, hand-carved miniature buildings and small pieces of plastic, third-grader Joshua Bell and his grandfather, Robert, crafted an intricate model of old Bay Shore Park.

Nicole Szarek, a fourth-grader, dipped into her little brother's vast supply of plastic blocks to build a part of the Dundalk Marine Terminal, complete with a working crane.

The projects were two of 150 displayed at Bear Creek Elementary School's gym Monday.

The projects blended past and present Dundalk into a young peoples' commentary on community pride.

The display, billed as the Dundalk Fair, is the result of an effort by Bear Creek's teachers to have students learn more about their community.

"We thought it would be more interesting to the students to put their research into a visual display rather than just write a report," said Marcee Zakwieia, a third-grade teacher who helped develop the project.

Third-grade teacher Megan Nelson, who helped coordinate the project, said, "The response all the way around -- from the students, their parents, the teachers and the local business community -- has been just fantastic."

Last year, students made a trivia board game about Dundalk. Information developed from the game was used to make homemade posters entered in the "I Love Dundalk" contest, said Ms. Nelson.

This year there were nearly 400 entries, of which 150 were chosen for public display.

The projects included models of the Battle of North Point, Bethlehem Steel, the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the historic Old Dundalk Shopping Center, Dundalk Community College and Bear Creek Elementary School. Some students made videotapes on their subject.

Third-grader Kristi Nichols won the grand prize -- a $100 savings bond and a trophy -- for her hand-drawn book of the different species of wildlife found in the Black Marsh.

The book included an explanation on each animal's importance to the marsh, a 600-acre protected wetland in North Point State Park. The prize was awarded by a panel of 13 judges.

Area residents and environmentalists have waged a three-year fight to stop the state from building a 25-acre recreational area on the marsh's edge.

Winners at each grade level received a $50 savings bond and a trophy.

Joshua Bell said he decided on Bay Shore Park because it meant so much to his grandfather and because it is part of Dundalk's history.

"Grandpa wishes the park was still there so he could go back and take me," said Joshua.

The amusement park and beach, which attracted thousands from the metropolitan area, closed in 1947. The site is now part of North Point State Park.

Joshua and his grandfather studied old photographs while building the model, which includes a roller coaster, mansion, trolley barn and pavilion that once were the park's main features.

"It's quite a remarkable replica," Charlie Echols, a member of the Dundalk Historical Society, said of the hand-carved buildings.

Nicole Szarek said she chose the Dundalk Marine Terminal because of its importance to the local economy and because she "wanted to know more about the port."

Ms. Nelson said that as a result of the student's research, the school library is now filled with information about Dundalk and its history.

"It's just astounding what these young kids have done, to do this much research on their own and come up with such creative ideas," said Mr. Echols. "The work shows they have a lot of pride in their community and that speaks well for Dundalk."

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