Scholastic honor reunites childhood best friends

May 29, 1994|By Alicia RabinsMary Maushard | Alicia RabinsMary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

Alicia Rabins and Julia Grossman remember being best friends in fifth grade at Hampton Elementary School. Then they went to different schools, made new friends, developed different interests and saw each other only in passing.

Their separate accomplishments over the past seven years, however, have brought them back together. Alicia and Julia are 1994 United States Presidential Scholars. Two of only four in Maryland. Two of only 141 in the country. These two, who live only miles apart in Towson.

Also, Alicia's Presidential Scholar award is in the arts; she is one of 20 young people chosen nationally for their artistic accomplishments. Hers is poetry.

When Alicia saw Julia's name on the list of scholars, she called her for the first time in years.

"We had just sort of drifted apart," said Alicia. "I think we are going to get together again. I'm excited."

Alicia, the daughter of Dr. Peter and Karen Rabins, will graduate from Towson High School and intends to study English at Barnard College in New York City and "ideally" become a poet.

Julia, the daughter of Drs. Stuart and Linda Grossman, will graduate from Loch Raven High School and attend Harvard University. She hasn't decided what to study or what career to pursue.

"They are different kids," said Karen Rabins, a social worker. "Underneath, they are a lot alike."

Both young women have a long list of talents and accomplishments that made them part of the elite group of graduating seniors recognized for their academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities and community service.

Both are excited about the honor and the summer festivities in Washington that include a ceremony with President Clinton on the South Lawn of the White House. Alicia, with the other students recognized for their writing, will be reading "a few poems" at the Smithsonian Institution.

They will be "new stuff," she said, written since January, when she attended an arts week in Miami, as part of a national talent search conducted by the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, which recommends the arts scholar semi-finalists.

Alicia's poetry is free verse, which she described as filled with color and imagery and "very lyrical." She also paints and plays the viola and violin, which she studies at the Peabody Institute.

But writing is her first love.

"It's like breathing," she said. "My first poem was in kindergarten. Before I could physically write, I used to dictate stories to my grandmother." Because the Presidential Scholar award recognizes her writing, it is particularly sweet, Karen Rabins said. "We are thrilled."

Alicia, who works on Towson High's literary magazine, is not fond of school. "I get OK grades," she said, adding that she hasn't done much school work since completing her college applications. "I got tired of doing busy work," she said.

FTC "It really is a wonderful opportunity and a great honor," said Julia, who among many extracurricular activities is the county school board's first student member with voting privileges. She also is a musician, playing clarinet in the Loch Raven band and in the all-county band and orchestra.

Among many other activities, Julia is co-captain of Loch Raven's mock trial team, a member of the National Honor Society, the Loch Raven student council, the countywide student council and the school newspaper staff. "One of my biggest problems is that I'm not good at narrowing down what I'm interested in," she said.

The other Maryland Presidential Scholars are: Gregory Hall of Potomac, a student at Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School in Rockville, and Jonathan Willis of Frederick, a student at Frederick High School.

Students with high scores on college entrance tests are invited to apply to be Presidential Scholars by writing many essays and submitting school transcripts, descriptions of extracurricular and community activities and teacher recommendations. About 2,600 semifinalists were whittled down to 500 finalists, from which the outstanding 141 were chosen by the Commission on Presidential Scholars.

The commission, made up of prominent private citizens appointed to select the scholars, chooses two students from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American families living abroad. It also chooses 15 scholars at-large and the 20 arts scholars.



like a pygmy song

this echoes and bleeds.

i hold each morning the grains of your absence

a handful of throbbing red for you i have cut my hair

it lies in warm curved heaps on the basement floor

i will weave myself a blanket from it,

dark and shining like the girls of madrid

and i strew this rich ache across the desert

where poppies bloom and block the sun i can feel the pattern

they leave on your back o spain while i sleep

he is walking your hidden yellow streets

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