First president will give pupils a lesson in integrity


January 10, 2000|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TODAY, PUPILS at Westminster Elementary School are expecting to meet a famous American.

George Washington, first president of the United States and Revolutionary War commander in chief, is planning to tell the youngsters about himself and correct many of the misconceptions surrounding his much examined life.

Washington -- who is portrayed by Carl Closs of Kennett Square, Pa. -- will start his day by leading students in the Pledge of Allegiance. He is then expected to speak to the entire school for an hourlong morning program.

Later in the day, he plans to meet with each fifth-grade class, and 10 fifth-graders will have the opportunity to have lunch with the father of our country.

Closs, who has been an American Revolution re-enactor and interpreter for 15 years, will be accompanied by his friend, Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster.

"He is fascinating," said Barbara Peterson, head of the Westminster Elementary PTO's Cultural Arts Committee. "He knows everything about George Washington."

For example, Peterson said she has asked Closs several questions about Washington, including his attitudes toward slavery.

"[Washington] did realize it was wrong" Peterson said. (His will directed that his slaves be freed after his death.) Closs answered all of her questions in character, she said. "He interjects all these factual anecdotes about Washington. He just sold me on this program."

The program, sponsored by Westminster Elementary's PTO, is part of the school's emphasis on character traits.

This year, students examine a different positive character trait each month, such as cooperation or fairness, and are being rewarded for expressing those characteristics at school. This month, students are studying integrity.

"We felt that [Washington] was definitely a famous American who displayed integrity," Patterson said, adding that the fifth-graders chosen to have lunch with the president are being rewarded for expressing positive character traits this year.

"With the smaller groups of students, the discussion will be driven by their questions," Patterson said. "Where they go with their question is where he will go with his information."

In addition, the PTO is expected to dedicate a portrait of Washington during the festivities. It will hang in the school lobby. Students will view a color guard ceremony by the school's Cub Scout troop and listen to a performance by their peers in the instrumental music program.

Meanwhile, Closs, who has a bachelor's degree in education and has worked as a teacher throughout this country and abroad, is hoping to end his day with an after-school tea with Westminster Elementary's faculty.

"He doesn't want to leave," Patterson said with a laugh.

The ice rink cometh

The facilities for the city of Westminster ice skating rink are in place. City recreation supervisor Ron Schroers said he wants to wait until he's sure there will be four days of below-freezing weather before he fills the rink with water.

"It's taken me three years, but I've finally learned," Schroers said, adding that colder weather will allow him to build the ice slowly in layers.

Admission to the rink will be $2, and hot chocolate will be available for 75 cents. All skaters must bring their own skates.

Residents should call 410-751-5501 to check rink conditions.

Williams' works on display

The Carroll County Arts Council is featuring an exhibition of artist Hiram Williams' abstract works through Feb. 3.

Williams, an internationally known artist and former professor at the University of Florida, donated pieces from his personal art collection to the Carroll Community College Foundation in 1997.

Individuals interested in learning more about the artist and his work can attend a "Lunch and Learn" at the Main Street gallery at noon Wednesday. Information and reservations: 410-848-7272.

Amy L. Miller's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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