Hawks and snakes: Enough to make me wish for wide open spaces

NEIGHBORS

January 28, 1994|By LOURDES SULLIVAN

Last week, I saw a hawk perched on the fence at the far end of the yard. I can't tell if this is a good sign or not. There was so much ice on the ground, maybe he was just basking in the warm sun for a while.

Or, could it be that in spreading millet seeds for the songbirds, I inadvertently gathered songbirds for the hawk's lunch?

I suppose that, in a way, having predators around proves that the yard is a balanced ecosystem.

I think I used this same argument last September when I found the snake. I wasn't too happy about my ecosystem's functioning then, either.

On the other hand, neither the snake nor the hawk is thrilled with my existence.

*

This Wednesday, as on every first Wednesday of the month, the local chapter of La Leche League meets at the Savage Branch Library at 10:15 a.m. Cindy Clement will present this month's topic: "There's a New Baby in Your Life."

As always, babies and their older siblings are welcomed, although it's nice to bring a quiet toy to keep them entertained.

The library is on Durness Street just off Gorman Road in Savage.

Call the library at (410) 880-5975 for directions if you need them.

*

Pat Greenwald, the gifted and talented resource teacher at Hammond Middle School reports on the following efforts of the Hammond students to identify and solve some local problems.

About three months ago, sixth-grader Arun Ram found himself frustrated by the computers available in the school's computer lab.

They were not fast or new enough for his demanding standards. So, Arun began to survey all of the computers in the school, both those available for student use and those used only by staff members.

He tested each computer's capabilities to find out which ones were outmoded, lacked software or were just plain broken. Arun collated this data into graphs and charts showing student vs. staff use.

Although Arun's project was certainly worthwhile, it lacked that public aspect that makes one take notice of a project. It lacked visibility. It wasn't flashy. But value isn't always in the flash.

The school board just presented its proposed budget to the county. One provision would use $1 million to buy computers and other technology for older schools to achieve technological parity with newer ones.

Suddenly, Arun's project is topical.

As of this writing, Arun Ram is busy composing letters to the school board, detailing Hammond's current computer resources and deficiencies. He's politely requesting that the school board consider Hammond Middle School's needs when distributing new computers.

He is backing up his assertions with the charted data so laboriously collected this fall and winter. And, assuming the school budget passes, Hammond staff and students may reap the benefits of Arun's project for years to come.

*

Eighth-graders Sinem Mustafa and Melanie Merson also thought about local problems that they could identify and help improve.

They realized that the problem of homelessness affects people in Howard County as well as elsewhere, so they researched what they could do about it. The two asked personnel at Grassroots, the nonprofit group that runs a homeless shelter in Columbia, for suggestions.

The staff there noted that the guests who come to the shelter often need personal care and hygiene items.

The center needs canned goods. And of course, the two students could always serve the guests a meal.

The Misses Mustafa and Merson decided to do all three of these things: collect canned goods, collect hygiene items and serve a dinner.

They organized a can and toothbrush drive at Hammond Middle School. The sweetener to this drive was that one such item was necessary to get a ticket to a Dec. 23 dance. The goods were payable in advance, so that the shelter could have the goods before the Christmas crunch.

Well, the week before Christmas, Grassroots received seven large boxes full of canned goods and personal products, courtesy of Hammond Middle School students.

It is now the spring semester, and Ms. Mustafa and Ms. Merson aren't resting on their laurels. They are beginning to plan the dinner they will cook and serve on April 12 at the Grassroots' Columbia shelter house, during parent-teacher conference week.

The two girls have to be free all afternoon to cook, so they have had to schedule their dinner party during conference week.

Still in the planning stages, Ms. Mustafa and Ms. Merson have decided to bring flowers for the tables and present the diners with small useful gifts at the dinner.

While they are still debating what the main course will be, they have decided on the dessert -- baklava, that incredibly light, honey-drenched cake from Turkey and the Near East. This is a well-thought-out and executed project, providing homeless people not only with the bare necessity of food but with the basic necessity of courteous treatment.

*

Bollman Bridge's Parent Teacher Association again sponsors a Family Fun Movie Night at 7 p.m. next Friday, Feb. 4 at the school. Come see "Homeward Bound," the compelling story of three pampered pets' journey through the wilderness to rejoin their family.

Admission is cheap, only $1 per person over two years old. Babies and toddlers are admitted free. Sodas and popcorn are a quarter.

Bring the family for a night out at the movies. Tickets are available in advance or at the door.

Call Karen Gross at (301) 498-4246 for details. The school is located on Savage-Guilford road in Savage.

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