IT WAS A PERFECT winter day. The kids rode sleds down hills through the cushiony snow, kicking up spray. Thursday was a day to be out in the soft, clean weather, lungs filled with sharp air, heart flying.
Gleaming-white winter days are rare in our neck of the woods. But when Catonsville resident Joseph S. Cugle Jr. was young, snow was with us all season.
"It always seemed like it started snowing [at] Thanksgiving and snow stayed on the ground till March," he says. "Everybody had chains. They wouldn't clear the roads like they do now. They would leave a thin layer of snow on the roads."
Cugle, 63, grew up in Ilchester. Three generations of his family lived in a small stone duplex at the bottom of Bonnie Branch Road. His grandmother, Molly Cugle, and uncles Melvin and Clement Cugle did the laundry for St. Mary's Seminary in Ilchester, high on a hill above the Patapsco River.
"The river was very wide then, and the students, who were mostly from New England, ice-skated on the river," Cugle says. "Not many of us had ice skates, but we used to watch them."
Hugh Burgess, 70, grew up in Ellicott City. After school, he says, he and 15 or 20 kids would skate on the McKubbin family's pond, near St. Johns Lane and Frederick Road.
They'd build a little fire beside the pond to keep warm and play "Crack the Whip" on the ice, Burgess recalls.
The young skaters joined hands, and the line twisted and turned until those on the end flew off across the ice.
Sometimes, Burgess says, he got up early to skate before school.
Band teacher Rick Lawrence organized Showcase 2000 at Howard High School on Jan. 13, 14 and 15.
The medley of dance and musical numbers was performed by teachers and students.
Teachers Keedra Stevenson, Michelle Fowler, Riki Schoppert, Carol Lawrence, Lynne Javier, Dave Glenn and Al Silberman sang. Rick Lawrence and Marc Barron played keyboard and saxophone in the band.
Students Jeff Corbett and Brian Snyder played guitar; Mandy Koch played bass; and Tony Corbett played drums in the band.
Sarah Hicks, Bia Lewis, Joey Tortella and Alex Von Hagen-Jamar served as student hosts.
The "Showcassettes" -- Kelly Bylsma, Kelly Cwalina, Erin Holmes, Jennifer Kulhman, Samantha McEwen, Kourtney Sullivan and Elisa Vasta -- provided back-up vocals for the performers.
Stage manager Laura Schneider supervised the technical crew: Amy Feigeilis, Liz Pech, Lauren Keegan, Kyle Stewart, Anthony Abraham, Bryan Dodd, Tamara Raistrick and Mike Smetak.
Partner with youth
The YMCA of Central Maryland Howard County Branch launched its Partner With Youth Campaign on Jan. 6 with a party at Historic Savage Mill.
Campaign Chairwoman Rodi Strauss noted that the campaign has exceeded its goal for the past four years. She hopes the YMCA will achieve its goal of $120,000 in this year's campaign.
The funds will be used to provide scholarships.
Information: Cathy Smith, 410-465-4334.
Lou Ann Maclay, mother of Patrick Lipscomb -- a fourth-grader at Ilchester Elementary School -- participated in a program run by the Bell Atlantic Telephone Pioneers, called "Book 'Em," by reading to fourth-graders at the school.
Members of the employee service organizations read to children and provide a free scholastic book to each.
Last year, 134 volunteers read and distributed 22,512 books at 182 Maryland schools.
David Stevens, son of Michael Stevens of Elkridge, was recently named a commended student in the National Merit Scholarship Program. David attends Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn.
Mount Hebron High School senior Lauren Wolkstein attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington in November. Lauren was one of 350 young leaders from across the country who attended.
Rusty Rockstroh of Ellicott City and Erik Slack of Elkridge, both 14, were members of a five-person team that built a robot and won a trophy in the FIRST LEGO League Robotics Challenge held at Central Connecticut State University on Dec. 4.
A second team, including Crystal Slack, 13, and Kathy Rockstroh, 11, participated as novices in the engineering competition. Their robot placed 15th overall.