AT HAMPSTEAD Elementary School, Y2K has been the reason for faculty and pupils to brainstorm about the future, to actively explore cultural diversity and visually represent the number 2,000 while providing breakfast for the needy.
It's been a festive preparation. Every pupil and teacher received a T-shirt designed for the new year, and wore it to an assembly Dec. 21. The white shirts are emblazoned with the school mascot, a black panther cub, encircled by the words "Y2K Hampstead Cubs Club: Creativity, Community, Caring."
The program has been in the works since September, when classrooms developed Millennium Collections of 2,000 items, which have been on display in the school lobby.
In October, pupils dressed as they imagined they might in the next millennium. Last month, an enormous collage of diverse culture, age and homelands -- assembled with parental help from hundreds of pictures the children clipped from magazines -- was posted on the cafeteria wall.
This month, the children had a challenge to collect boxes of cereal for Carroll County Food Sunday.
By last week, the children had amassed 700 boxes of cereal, which were lined up like dominoes at the assembly. In a thank-you letter from Food Sunday, the pupils were told that the Food Sunday program serves 900 people each week, and half of them are children younger than age 16.
Julie Hollenberg, vocal music teacher, led the pupils in a song, "Lend a Helping Hand." Because the school had developed a program to help fight hunger, the music and compact disc were sent to them for free, she said.
"Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa all have to do with giving. We're all very impressed with the amount of cereal you have collected for those less fortunate," Doug Blackiston, physical education teacher, told the pupils, kindergarten through fifth grade, seated on the gymnasium floor in their white Y2K T-shirts.
"There's 10 servings or bowls in the average box, so this will serve about 7,000 breakfasts to people," he said. "Give yourselves a pat on the back."
The pupils will wear the Y2K T-shirts throughout next year, particularly the first day of school. That's when the school plans to capture all its pupils in their "First Day of the New Century" on film.
Y2K collections on view
How does a child show the number 2,000? Each classroom at Hampstead Elementary was challenged to fill a plastic goldfish bowl (from Utz pretzels) with 2,000 of anything and display the collection for the school to see in the school lobby.
The collections include everyday items, such as 2,000 buttons, scraps of paper from the school office, 2,000 pencils, and 2,000 marshmallows, cotton balls, beads, macaroni noodles counted by 10s in a math class, and colorful chocolate candies counted by kindergartners.
The collections are imaginative, such as the pupils of Sherri Martin's third grade who chose 2,000 favorite things.
To represent the pets in their classroom, pupils of Regina Richardson counted 2,000 animal and goldfish crackers.
Pupils of Jean Crowl found clutter items, such as rubber bands and old toys, to create a collection of "stuff we didn't need anymore."
The school nurse, Laurel Mosley, contributed 2,000 bandages. Pupils of art teacher Barbara Hammond gathered 2,000 small art supplies.
Instrumental teacher Kim Keeler helped her pupils choose 2,000 musical terms from bow-lift to double bass, while vocal music teacher Julie Hollenberg collected 2,000 song titles, such as patriotic songs, songs from the radio, songs learned as children, and songs they will learn in the future.
The most technological collection would be from Miriam Krumrine's classroom, whose amateur scientists carefully counted 2,000 drops of colored water and sealed the container to keep the drops circulating.
Plans are to exhibit the unusual series of goldfish bowl collections at the North Carroll Branch Library early next month before they're returned to Hampstead Elementary.
Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.