Students reach out to cancer patients, seniors


April 04, 2000|By Pamela Woolford | Pamela Woolford,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE LONG Reach High School National Honor Society was very busy last week. Led by the group's co-adviser, Ann Strozyk, a Gifted and Talented Program resource teacher at the school, it sponsored two community outreach projects.

On Thursday, the group made and served taco dinners to families at Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore.

The next day, members held their second Senior Prom for Seniors, a dance for senior citizens. While the billing was for dinner and dancing, the real draw was camaraderie -- for recipients and students.

Ronald McDonald House is a dormitory-style living facility for children with cancer and their families. It is similar to a hotel or a second home for families while their children receive treatment at nearby hospitals.

By cooking dinner for the 31 families that reside there, the students relieved them of the burden of fixing a meal and also provided new faces and fresh conversation.

The families "didn't talk about cancer," said Strozyk, "but talked to high school students about their going to school, how their classes are different here."

Some of the young patients told the students "knock-knock" jokes. Amy Newell, a senior and chairwoman of the honor society's cancer committee, encouraged classmates to purchase taco shells and salsa for the event, and her committee rallied about a dozen other students to pitch in.

School staff members donated desserts, and Safeway provided a $25 gift certificate for additional food. Jodi Duff, a science teacher at the school, led Brownie Troop 832 in making centerpieces for the occasion.

For the Senior Prom for Seniors, Rene Cross, chairwoman of the honor society's Spring Fling committee and a Long Reach High senior, led her committee in organizing more than 20 classmates in sharing fellowship with about two dozen senior citizens in the school atrium for the afternoon dance.

"We had a blast," said Strozyk, who was inspired to organize the dance by Gloriann Mehlman, an honor society adviser at Atholton High School who leads her club in holding senior-citizen dances.

"We had four ladies who called themselves the `Golden Girls,' " Strozyk said. "They were dressed in black. These ladies, they donned a red sash around their waist, red gloves, and they did a tap dance to two oldies songs. We did the conga line. We did every dance you could think of."

Carol Lancaster, an activities planner at Longwood Senior Center in Long Reach Village Center, organized the senior citizens.

Creative Deejays in Ellicott City provided free disc jockey service. Dobbin Center's Party Party Party and Wessel's Florist in Ellicott City donated decorations.

"The gentlemen were really into swing dancing," Strozyk said, "so they taught a lot of the little high school girls swing dance moves."

The senior citizens also taught students about the value of sharing their time. Apparently the value is reciprocal: Some Long Reach High School graduates who attended last year's Senior Prom for Seniors came to this year's dance while on spring break from college to relive the experience.

A first-place finish

On March 26, a team of 10 students representing Atholton High School won first place in the high school division of the third "It's BlackAdemic Contest" sponsored by the Black Student Achievement Program.

Coached by Lester Wall, the winning team consisted of 12th-graders Aliona Aponte, Courtney Dredden, Remy Taylor, and Marcus Jackson; 11th-graders Sharee Carter, Ashley Wall, and Janelle Gross; 10th-grader Christine Warren; and ninth-graders Brittany Taylor and Brahn Jenkins.

Murray Hill Middle School pupils took first place in the middle school competition. The winning elementary-school team consisted of pupils from three schools, Bridget Robinson of Talbott Springs Elementary, Diop Wallace of Stevens Forest Elementary and Nicholas Brickhouse and Evan Williams of Swansfield Elementary.

The contest, devised to teach Howard County public school students about African and African-American history, was developed by BSAP parent volunteer Donald Wallace of Oakland Mills.

This year's competition took place at Oakland Mills High School. The Black Student Achievement Program is a division of the Office of Academic Support of Howard County schools.

Information: 410-313-6806.

Shining Stars

On Wednesday, the Shining Stars drama club at Waterloo Elementary School presented "King Midas and the Palace of Gold."

Sponsored by the school's PTA, the drama club presented a morning performance for classmates and school staff members, and an evening show for friends and family.

About 800 people attended the presentations. Fifth-graders Ziyed Hedfi and Trevor York played lead roles, with Ziyed appearing as King Midas and Trevor playing the court adviser.

Other major roles were played by fifth-graders Stephanie Sillers, Alex Graddy, Sara McNeely, Melissa Chen and Amy Kajani; fourth-graders Melissa Morrison, Josh Randel, Rebecca Wilkinson, Timothy Robinson and Sarah Brand; and third-grader Makeeda Carroll.

Leslie Wilkinson, an Elkridge resident and a member of the PTA, directed the play with support from assistant directors Bonnie Catalano, the PTA's drama coordinator, and Staci Pippin, a first-grade teacher.

Nancy Huff, the school's art teacher, assisted with props and set design.

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