Patuxent Valley Middle pupils make the grade as elementary reading tutors


May 14, 1999|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

JUDY CEPHAS is the new Gifted and Talented Program resource teacher at Patuxent Valley Middle School. A dedicated educator, she's taking 150 pupils to New York City to see a Broadway production this month.

But that's not why she called this reporter.

Cephas, who is spending her first year in our area -- although she has worked at other Howard County schools -- is a big fan of other staff members at the school. And she is really impressed by the work of Suzanne Gross' sixth-grade reading class.

These good readers are spreading the word to those less proficient than they.

Every Friday at noon, class members walk across a shared parking lot to Bollman Bridge Elementary to visit second-graders.

In a one-on-one Big Sister/Big Brother program, the middle-schoolers tutor the younger children.

We're talking about 11- and 12-year-olds performing the duties of instructors. And since they are only four years removed from the experience of being new readers, they have insight into what works best to promote learning.

For example, the young tutors hand out lots of small rewards when their pupils master new materials.

The 25 sixth-graders prepare the lessons and require the second-graders to keep on task.

Like all the best teachers, the sixth-graders are working to create an atmosphere conducive to learning.

Today, they are holding an awards ceremony for the second-graders. In addition to seeing a puppet show, each second-grader will receive a summer reading kit -- courtesy of the middle-schoolers.

Inside a sand pail will be at least one book donated by sixth-graders and an assortment of goodies. Gross and Cephas dug into their own pockets to finance the goodies.

Congratulations to students and teachers for their achievement.

Night scene heats up

We're getting a bit of night life in Savage.

The Ram's Head Tavern is scheduled to open this summer at Savage Mill. And live music will be available Wednesday nights for the next few weeks at Ma's Kettle on Baltimore Street.

Ma's Kettle, the Savage restaurant that's almost an institution in our town, has Savage Gentlemen and the Savage Country and Bluegrass Band playing alternating gigs.

The nine members of the bluegrass band play dulcimer, banjo, guitar, dobro -- a type of guitar held horizontally in the lap, according to band member Neil Doran -- and fiddle and mandolin.

Originally founded to perform at the Laurel 4th of July festivities, the band has been playingtogether about three years.

It's a family-style enterprise.

Doran and his wife, Linda, are members, as are Dave and Betty Wineberg, Ray Midkiff and his brother, Grant, and Elva Brocht and Ralph Houser.

They come from the Beltsville, Bowie, Laurel and Savage areas.

There is something about playing music that makes performers want to play more. When not performing at Ma's Kettle, band members often join in the Tuesday night jam sessions at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Beltsville.

The Dorans also play at the 7 p.m. Mass at their church, St. Lawrence in Jessup, on Saturdays.

As if that weren't enough, members of the group volunteer three or four times a year at a prison ministry in Jessup.

Doran says they undergo what seems like hours of security checks to play at services in the prison. But, he adds, its worth it.

The bluegrass band also can be heard June 5 at the Savage Fest on Baldwin Commons.

Watershed Day

Tomorrow is a great day to go fishing and canoeing. The weather promises to be fine.

So where to go? How about no farther than Laurel?

Tomorrow is Patuxent Reservoirs Watershed Day. The location is Supplee Park, on the Rocky Gorge Reservoir near Laurel -- and the setting is gorgeous.

Among the day's activities are a fishing derby for the under-16 set, canoeing lessons, food, music and environmentally themed workshops.

Come visit a bit of natural splendor just off Interstate 95 and learn where all that potable water comes from.

Events will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fishermen -- or those who wish to learn -- should bring their own gear and bait.

Details and directions: Ann Barth, 301-262-9300.

Bird day

Also tomorrow, Patuxent Research Refuge will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at the National Wildlife Visitor Center, near Laurel.

Come see live bird demonstrations, interviews with biologists and a tram tour through the refuge. Children's activities are planned.

Admission is free, although the tram tours cost $2 for adults; $1 for kids.

Information: 301-497-5760.

Pub Date: 5/14/99

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