Guests, students laud fifth-grade Authors' Tea

NEIGHBORS

December 15, 1993|By BONITA FORMWALT

Books by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary shared shelf space with a new generation of writers at the Point Pleasant Elementary School Authors' Tea last week. Budding authors from the fifth grade discussed their poetry and prose with visitors, pausing only to sign autographs.

The idea for the tea evolved as teacher Maurine Larkin searched for a way to pique the students' interest in writing. She began to think in terms of how professional writers create and promote their finished work.

"A tea was something that a real-life writer might do when they had finished writing a story or a book," said Larkin. "It offered a chance for the students to share their writing."

The children have been working on individual projects since the beginning of the school year. Their finished works -- poetry, short stories and informational pieces -- were mounted on display boards and exhibited throughout the school media center.

Principal Evelyn Reed observed firsthand as the student's enthusiasm for the project grew.

"I would see the boys and girls at lunchtime, talking about their writing and the journals they've been working on," said Reed. "This is a positive sign we will have a generation of readers."

Six students were selected to read their favorite pieces to the audience: Hana Lyn Colvin, Sarah Hoffa, Adam Iser, John Lloyd, Nick McGarvey and Erin Smith.

What made the project special to the students was the artistic freedom the teaching staff allowed.

"You got to pick whatever you wanted to write about," said Adam, who wrote a story about a mouse. "It was easier because no one was telling you what you had to write."

Erin echoed that sentiment. Encouraged by the writing exercises, she submitted "The Ghost of Glen Burnie" to a scary story contest sponsored by Disney Adventures magazine. Even though she didn't win, she said that it was fun to try.

The positive response from the students and guests have encouraged Larkin to try the project again with next year's fifth grade -- with one minor change.

"Never again will we try this right before Christmas," she said, laughing. "February. Definitely February."

*

The Rev. John Douglas of Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church was kind enough to call my attention to an error in last week's column about the train garden raffle for the North County Emergency Outreach Center. His church is one of the sponsors of the raffle.

A $1 donation buys a chance to win two train sets and the 4-by-8 snow scene from the train garden on display at Glen Burnie Mall. Train kits will also be awarded for second, third and fourth prizes.

Tickets can be purchased at the mall. The winning ticket will be announced at 2 p.m. Dec. 23.

*

Santa and his helpers from the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the spirit of Christmas a bit early with a party Sunday at Archbishop Spalding High School.

One hundred less fortunate children have been invited to enjoy an afternoon of holiday fun with volunteers from the chamber and Spalding.

Gary Rankin of Chesapeake Printing and Mailing is coordinating the party for the chamber. He follows in the footsteps of Mark Baumgardner, who began the annual event nine years ago.

"When I was president of the chamber, I just thought we had been acting a little bit too self-serving. I felt we could do more in the community," said Baumgardner, co-owner of Allstate Alarms. thought if only we could cheer up and brighten Christmas for these kids."

Linda and Joe Mrockowski are two volunteers recruited by Baumgardner six years ago. Owners of a maintenance company that serves the high school, the Mrockowskis see Mark as the catalyst that propels the rest of the volunteers.

"Mark came to us that first year with grandiose ideas and few funds and set out to plan a party," Mrs. Mrockowski said. "He always finds a way to have people donate whatever is needed. He is the center of the wheel around here."

Over the years the party has grown from 25 children to last year's high of 189. This year, the chamber has elected to limit the number of children while doing more for each.

In addition to the party, the chamber will provide groceries, school supplies, hats, gloves and a gift picked out for each child.

All of the food, gifts and entertainment for the party have been donated by local businesses.

"The support and enthusiasm grows every year," Baumgardner said. "It's heartwarming to see the business community work together for the kids."

Pam Kaizar, executive director of the chamber, estimates it costs about $6,000 for the event.

"We collect money through Dec. 23 at various locations. The money not spent on the party is used to help individuals that need extra help," explained Kaizar.

Anyone wishing to donate time, gifts or money for the party can contact the chamber office, 766-8282.

*

The axiom "It is better to give than to receive" is evident at Arthur Slade Regional Catholic School. In keeping with the true meaning of Christmas, the students at Slade have participated in several charitable programs.

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