Children welcoming the new year with hope and learning

Knowledge: Teachers at Hampstead Elementary in Carroll County are using 2000 as an opportunity to make lessons real for their pupils.

January 04, 2000|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

In the next thousand years, fifth-grader Bryce Gill predicted, "Maybe we will find a cure for cancer and extend peoples' lives."

"I think a lot of things will be solar-powered," said Kelly Miller, whose desk is across from Bryce's in teacher Joanna Clark's class at Hampstead Elementary School.

And, Kelly said, "More robots will be built for old people who need help."

"A child will invent something useful," said Brett Messiora, another classmate.

These 10-year-olds and millions like them all over the country started the first day of school yesterday in 2000, a nice round number that set their imaginations spinning into the future, and what it might be like.

Hampstead Elementary dived headlong into 2000 in a big way this year, after the school's art, music and physical education teachers decided to make it a theme for learning.

Physical education teacher Doug Blackiston went to classrooms to snap a picture of each homeroom.

"This is for posterity," he said to a group of third-graders who left their desks to pose in front of the chalkboard.

"Everybody raise your hands -- zero zero," said Blackiston. In room after room, the children obliged, and smiled and raised their hands with all fingers down -- to symbolize the last two digits of the new year.

Blackiston snapped one picture and moved on to the next classroom at breakneck speed because, he said, "I'm supposed to be teaching."

In the gym, the other PE teacher, John Brown, conducted class while Blackiston recorded the day with a digital camera the PTA purchased for the school.

It started like all the school days in 1999 -- a morning announcement by Principal Monica Smith and then the playing of "Grand Old Flag" over the intercom, leading into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Then Blackiston began his rounds -- in less than an hour, he had made his way into 33 classes to shoot a group picture of each.

In Meg Cheyn's fifth-grade class, students got up from their Harry Potter books, Rugrats folders and other signs of the times, and posed in one corner of the room.

As he finished and walked into the foyer, two children walked in with their motor development specialist, Gina Hughes.

"Did I get your picture?" Blackiston said to Cody Hughes, 6, and Brittany Hendler, 7. They smiled and shook their heads.

Blackiston quickly led them a few steps to a display of three dozen large plastic pretzel jars, each filled by a classroom with 2,000 of something -- beads, macaroni, bandages (from the school nurse), cotton balls and even 2,000 drops of colored water.

He snapped his last picture of the morning.

Blackiston said he and the other teachers started planning the Y2K theme more than a year ago.

"We were looking for a way to make it a more meaningful experience beyond just the hype and tie it in with educational core values," he said.

The jars in the display were meant to help students gain an understanding of the quantity of 2,000.

One kindergarten class filled a jar with cotton balls, compacting them to fit them all in. Another class brought in an odd assortment of rubber bands, pens and other debris they found by cleaning out their rooms.

Clark had her fifth-grade students bring in at least 63 items of importance to them, as long as they fit into a sandwich bag. With the 30 children, Clark, and her student teacher, Marci Koch, each bringing in 63 items, that made more than 2,000 objects. The bags were then placed in a jar.

Kelly said she chose to bring 63 red, black and white beads -- the school colors.

Bryce brought in Pokemon cards, bouncy balls and other small playthings.

Yesterday, most of the class was thinking about the future, because that was their assignment. Clark asked them to write down what the next thousand years might bring.

"I think there will be more people living in space," Meghan Myers wrote.

Joey Mirabelle's prediction: "The world will be at peace."

Pub Date: 1/04/00

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