For seniors, a slumber party for the books Garrison Forest students reinforce school bonds

June 11, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

It was a textbook slumber party -- pizza and videos, tortilla chips and loud music, doughnuts and laughter.

For 47.

Well, maybe only 42 or 43 showed up, but the original guest list for Sunday's sleepover at the home of Susan and Richard Klein numbered 47 -- their daughter Lauren and her 46 chums in Garrison Forest School's Class of '96.

In graduation ceremonies tomorrow, the young women will cross the courtyard at the Owings Mills girls' school on their way into the world and away from each other. Their leave-taking is more bittersweet than most: A few have been Garrison Forest girls almost their whole lives, and nearly half the class are boarding students who have been together day and night for the past four or five years.

"I don't want to leave, but I'm so ready to go to college," said Paula Dixon, the senior class boarding student president and one of the party's organizers.

Before moving on, the girls wanted one more chance to reinforce the bonds they have formed -- some for more than a dozen years.

"I think it says a lot about our class," said Emily Appelbaum, the school president, who has attended Garrison Forest since kindergarten. "We're all friends now," she said, as music blared and groups gathered around a tray of 7-Layer Dip, a Class of '96 tradition.

After a daylong practice for their senior program, the girls settled into the Kleins' spacious Phoenix home for a final 10 hours of kick-back and looking back -- and ahead.

By 10: 30 p.m., Susan Klein was making the usual parental request: "Could you turn that down a little?" she asked. A group was watching "Swimming with Sharks" on the big-screen TV in the basement "pit," a comfortable area with wrap-around sound and built-in couches that step up from the floor.

The TV watchers had turned up the volume to overcome the sound of the jukebox, emanating from elsewhere in the basement.

"Mr. Klein is sleeping," his wife cautioned, bringing the noise level temporarily down a decibel.

After four or five hours of eating, dancing, pool-playing and general carrying-on, "We ended up turning all the lights out by 2 or 2: 30 a.m.," said Paula, a four-year Garrison student from Annapolis.

Soon after 6: 30 a.m., most of the girls were up. By 8 a.m, they were on their way -- uniforms and all -- to the last day of school. Like most slumber parties, there had been little slumber.

Paula and Sara Bleich, the day student president, came up with the idea for this one last get-together and approached the Kleins about housing the event. With no apparent trepidation, Susan Klein said, she agreed.

Class funds left over from the prom paid for the food and party supplies. Susan Klein did the shopping and the serving. Richard Klein did, indeed, go to bed early.

"I am so glad we did it," Paula said yesterday. "Everything went great. I think we probably have started a Garrison Forest tradition."

Garrison Forest's Class of 1996 started in 1980, when Lucy Baxter entered the school's program for 3-year-olds. With 16 years there, "I'm definitely a lifer," she said over the slumber party din.

Not far behind was June Pongsiri of Ellicott City, who has been at the school since she entered prekindergarten 14 years ago. Then, Emily Appelbaum, there for 13 years, followed by Sarah Reder, who began first grade there 12 years ago.

"I can't believe I only have three days left. It hasn't really hit me yet," Sarah said.

That sentiment echoed through the night.

"Part of me is really excited. Part of me is real sad," said Tilley Jenkins, a boarding student from North Carolina who has been at Garrison three years. "You go to school to learn, and that's your main concern [here], and it's nice."

She is, however, looking forward to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill -- "and all those boys," she said.

"It's going to be hard to leave these people and places that are so familiar," said Lucy Baxter.

But Lucy and her classmates will have plenty of memories to take with them. And photos, too. Served with the pizza and subs was a big bowl of disposable cameras that the girls could -- and did -- use freely, recording the crazy and candid minutes of the first Garrison Forest Senior Sleepover.

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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