PART OF the pleasure of living here for 22 years has been watching children grow up. One is Tracie Eckstein, whom I met in 1978 when she was in first grade at Rockland Elementary School. I would never have guessed that in 1996, she would be a police officer in Baltimore County.
A 1991 graduate of Mount Hebron High School, she spent the past seven months in training as a recruit for the Baltimore County Police Department. She graduated Dec. 21 with a 96 percent average, top in the class of 60 recruits.
She now works the midnight shift in the Parkville precinct and lives in Perry Hall. Her mother, Carol Eckstein, says that she has settled plenty of domestic disputes and has experienced a foot chase in a drug case. But, most importantly, she is happy with her work.
Officer Eckstein had attended the University of Maryland for more than three years when she took a job as a security guard at a local department store and enjoyed it so much that she made a career of it. She intends to finish her degree and go into investigative work.
'Free to Be'
Here's one way to celebrate today's holiday, the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: Visit Rockland Arts Center, where the exhibit "Free to Be: African-American Artists in a Post-Modern Era" presents works from artists in the Baltimore-Washington area.
The exhibit begins Friday and continues through Feb. 23.
Howard High standouts
Howard High School students Carrie Burkhouse, Miriam Gloger and Stan Ward have earned my admiration in their recent "It's Academic" feats. They scored a record-breaking victory over Glen Burnie and Frederick high schools Dec. 9. The taped session will be broadcast Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on Channel 13.
The Howard High team will continue its competition in playoff rounds in early spring.
Congratulations are also in order for Howard High student Ronnie Banach, whose poem "Snorkeling" was published in "After the Storm," a compilation of poetry by the National Library of Poetry.
Fitness for seniors
For months, senior citizens in Elkridge have been eyeing the new senior center with thoughts of a fitness class. So they approached Elkridge resident Barbara Kendrick, who teaches senior fitness at Kiwanis Park Recreation Center.
With the aid of a grant from St. Agnes Mission Services and the support of the Office on Aging, classes will begin Feb. 5.
"It all began in the community," says Ms. Kendrick, who will direct the program and teach classes.
The classes, designed for senior citizens, include stretching, low-impact exercise and muscular strengthening. Exercises, which are set to music, can be modified for individual needs.
Ms. Kendrick, a certified fitness instructor, has taken training from Howard County Hospital on exercise for seniors. And because she suffers from degenerative arthritis, she understands personal limitations.
Classes are offered Mondays and Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:15 a.m. Classes will last for eight weeks and cost $16. Transportation can be arranged.
To register, stop by Elkridge Senior Center from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or call 313-4930. Registration must be received by Feb. 1.
Friday nights this winter may find me at a free concert, given in the name of Joanne Moroney, former special events coordinator for Howard County Recreation and Parks.
Ms. Moroney passed away in June after contributing to county recreation for 15 years.
This week, the U.S. Navy Band will perform in the Moroney Memorial Concert Series; on Feb. 2, the U.S. Navy Country Current will perform; and on Feb. 23, we'll hear the Columbia Concert Band.
All concerts will be at Mount Hebron High School. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the concerts begin at 8 p.m.
No admission is charged for the winter music warm-up, but donations will be accepted at the door for a scholarship fund being initiated in Ms. Moroney's memory.
Scholarship recipients will be students majoring in the performing arts.
Ellicott City resident Patricia Spruill of the Peabody Prep Dance Department will be holding classes at the Patapsco Middle School campus.
Ms. Spruill, who has dance degrees from Virginia Intermont College and Temple University, has been teaching locally for years.
Classes begin Jan 22. Teen Jazz begins at 3:30 p.m.; introduction to dance for 4- to 6-year-olds begins at 4:30 p.m.; and children's ballet for 7- to 12-year-olds begins at 5:30 p.m. Sessions last for eight weeks and cost $60.
A tiny tots music primer for children and their parents begins at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 7. The class will be held for 2- and 3-year-olds for 30 minutes each week.
Month for 'months'
Years ago, Gov. William Donald Schaefer designated January as Maryland Reading Month to remind us of the best way to pass an indoor day.
Elkridge resident Beth Hodge tells me that January is also "National Soup Month," in honor of my favorite comfort food. Celebrate the season by enjoying your beef barley or green split pea while curling up with a favorite book this month.