Children thrilled by luncheon honoring excellence Freetown, Park schools in program

June 13, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

La Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie is used to having large partie of 500 or more.

But seldom one in which the guests are as small as those at the luncheon held on Friday.

The catering hall played host to 500 students from Freetown and Park Elementary schools who were being honored for excellence in attendance, academic achievement and work habits.

The luncheon was sponsored by La Fontaine Bleu, the Anne Arundel County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the county school system.

Standards for selection were determined by each teacher, but students generally needed to earn all A's and B's or have no

unexcused absences to be chosen.

"We're not looking for perfection, just improvement," said Tom Stuehler, owner of La Fontaine Bleu.

The boys filed off school buses and into the hall, adjusting ties too tight for youngsters more accustomed to T-shirts. The girls fluffed out already pouffed dresses and adjusted large hair bows.

But when the students entered the hall, most forgot about their own appearance as they oohed and aahhed at the chandeliers hanging from La Fontaine Bleu's ceiling.

"Wow," a young boy yelled as he pointed upward. "I've never seen nothing that big."

The children were entertained by a clown and Captain Seaweed and his first mate -- "protectors and champions of the environment."

As impressive as the chandeliers and guests were, they took a back seat to the piece de resistance -- the food -- fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. And, of course, ice cream.

School teachers, administrators and Dels. Joan Cadden, W. Ray Huff, and Charles W. "Stokes" Kolodziejski -- all Democrats from the 31st District -- joined the La Fontaine Bleu staff to help serve the guests.

"In many instances, these kids may not have an opportunity to come to a place like La Fontaine Bleu," said Jean Creek, president of the county chapter of the NAACP. "That's one of the reasons we wanted to have something special for them. We wanted to say to them, 'We recognize you, and we appreciate you.' "

Freetown and Park Elementary schools were selected because they have many attendance and discipline problems, Mr. Stuehler said. Still, 62 percent of Park's and 61 percent of Freetown's students were eligible for the lunch.

And the students made the most of their opportunity. They tasted a little bit of everything while discussing the achievements that brought them to the luncheon.

"I got all A's and B's," bragged 8-year-old Terrell Thomas, a second-grade student at Freetown.

"I got all A's," added his classmate, Christopher Newton, also 8.

Others, like Marcus Jones and Vernon Blount, both 9, were honored for their perfect attendance.

A number of students met the criteria for excellence in two categories. But 12-year-old Jessica Stilley, a sixth-grader at Park Elementary, pulled off a hat trick in good grades, attendance and work habits.

"I just tried to work hard to get them all," Jessica said. "It was kind of hard, too."

Mr. Stuehler told the children that the luncheon would be held every quarter next year with students succeeding in four quarters getting a trip to King's Dominion.

L That drew enthusiastic cheers and screams from his audience.

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