Eighth-graders get history lesson while sprucing up Patapsco Valley


November 01, 1999|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

GREG DUBAC climbed onto a row of picnic tables in the park pavilion and raised two fingers of his left hand -- the traditional Scout sign for quiet.

The 175 eighth-graders from Dunloggin Middle School who visited the park Tuesday were so energized that Dubac had to ask parents and teachers to help quiet them.

Then Offutt Johnson, Patapsco Valley State Park naturalist, welcomed the students to the Avalon area of the park. The students broke into groups of 10 to 12 and got to work.

One team dusted, vacuumed and washed windows in the recently renovated River of History Center. The stone duplex is the only building remaining from the original Colonial town of Avalon.

Some students planted bulbs in its gardens. Another team donned ponchos and wielded scrub brushes to clean the ceilings and sides of the building's porches. Some sanded and painted the canoe trailer; others stenciled the park logo onto a new canoe.

One team moved a large, recently felled spruce tree to a ditch. They counted "1-2-3" -- and hauled the trunk in unison. Others gathered trash and debris along the river.

"Once we got their attention, and they were given their jobs, they got to work," said teacher Gail Burgtorf, who organized the half-day community service activity.

Three groups pulled and bagged invasive plants. Tom Benassi, an environmental scientist with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., led the removal of Japanese knotweed. The plant, a member of the buckwheat family, grows 4 feet to 8 feet high, and spreads by underground rhizomes.

Parents Patti Bulger, Kathleen "Woody" Swinson, Marvin Yudell, Kathleen Valdivia, James Holloway, Susan Dobrusin, Sharon Seiler, Bob Hancock and Mark Odom helped supervise the event.

Teachers Burgtorf, Dubac, Candy Taylor, Linda Levine, Lori De Moss, Annie Herbert, Stacy Cashmark, Paul Higdon and aide Trish Komsa participated.

It was a beautiful fall day.

Halloween march

The Mount Hebron High School band marched in three Halloween parades last week, wearing their white uniforms with black-and-gold trim.

On Thursday, the band followed fire engines from the Bethany Lane Fire Department down Boca Raton Drive. They performed on Congressional Court in Turf Valley, not far from the golf course.

Some 300 to 400 people walked behind the band and gathered for the performance. "It is wonderful!" said Karen Cooper of the Turf Valley Improvement Association.

On Friday, the band marched down Furrow Avenue behind a fire engine from the Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department.

About 500 people followed the band. Police stopped traffic.

"All the kids are in costume and some of the parents are in costume too," said Debbie Fieldhouse, president of the Mount Hebron-Orchards Community Association, which sponsors the parade.

The band has marched in the Mount Hebron-Orchards Halloween parade for 32 years.

Resident Dottie Savage started the Halloween tradition, Fieldhouse said, as a small parade on her little part of street.

She still lives there.

Dottie's sons Bob and Walter and their wives Barbara and Faith moved into homes in the newer area of the neighborhood.

Bob and Barbara Savage and their children usually walk in the parade. Walter and Faith's children are grown.

After the parade, the band performed in the open fields on the grounds of the Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church. The rifle team and drill team also performed.

Greg Peddicord, grandson of resident Franklin Baker, helped set up the lights. His grandfather, now 86, had the job for years.

One of the original owners and developers of the farm which became the Mount Hebron-Orchards neighborhood, Franklin Baker and his wife, Lois, live across the street from the church.

Dana Rones, Stephanie Moller and Jamie Hilliard are the band's drum majors. Stephanie likes the community parades.

"We see people that we know that support us," she said.

The neighborhood parade is "a real Norman Rockwell-type scene," said band director Bob Johnston.

On Saturday, the band marched in the festive evening Hagerstown Alsatia Mummers Parade. "It is one of best night parades on the East Coast," said Johnston, adding, "It has a performance atmosphere."

Johnston was named Music Educator of the Year last spring by the Howard County Parents for School Music.

Young tellers

The National Bank of Rockburn opened for business Wednesday at Rockburn Elementary School.

Third-grader Michael Price won the contest to name the bank.

About 150 students made deposits during the first hour, estimated Dee Walsh, the third-grade teacher who organizes business partnerships for the school.

The student bank is a collaborative project with the Elkridge branch of Commercial and Farmers Bank -- the school's new business partner.

Four tellers -- fourth-graders Cynthia Peng, Alex Crawford, Samantha White and Tara Naimaster -- were selected by Gifted and Talented resource teacher Sam Polack to serve as bank tellers.

Before opening the bank, the tellers were nervous. Alex was worried about all the people; Tara and Cynthia were concerned about making errors.

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