Deep Run Elementary pupils have night dedicated to peaceful fun

Neighbors

April 17, 2000|By Sally Voris | Sally Voris,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DEEP RUN Elementary School held a "Peaceful Ways to Play Night" Wednesday.Throughout the school, teachers and volunteers led activities for children and their families.

A poster on the front door announced the "Violent Toy Turn-in" in the cafeteria. Children turned in water pistols, violent videos and G. I. Joe toys.

In the media center, eight tables of parents and their children played bingo using pinto beans as markers. Fourth-grade teacher Kelly Clark helped children create designs on paper with colored markers.

In another room, children worked quietly side by side, each creating "Gary the Gecko," a key chain made out of beads and string.

As the event ended, Principal Fran Donaldson announced free Play Doh was available in the fourth-grade area for families to take home.

"It was a great success, " said Donaldson at the end of the evening. "The place was packed -- a lot of families came."

Donaldson, in her second year as principal, is a member of the Columbia United Christian Church. For three years, the church organized an event at the Oakland Mills Meeting House to encourage families to play peaceful games together.

The church offered a family-oriented program for two years at Running Brook Elementary School.

Donaldson encouraged church members to help her organize the event at Deep Run this year. For the past two years, the school has showcased its Gifted and Talented Program in an evening event for the entire school community during the spring.

This year, teachers incorporated lessons about how to create a peaceful environment in their teaching throughout the year. Artwork created for those lessons decorated the hallway walls.

A bulletin board recognized the "Peace Patrol," a group of fourth-graders who help maintain peace on the playground. The fourth-graders grant "dove awards" when they see someone acting to promote peace.

Brandon Snyder wrote on one of the awards, "Lovell Carter was promoting peace because he was being a good friend." On another, Danielle Zettel wrote, "Jeremy was promoting peace when he helped me put my school supplies back in my school box."

The patrol includes Alexandra Mayer, Benjamin Rosenthal, Lindsay Brown, Haley Cohen, Sharrell Wise, Kendi Bennett, David Quillen, Elise Smith, Trey Dixon, Adam Mills, Westley Toler, Sheila Verezia, Missy Morris, Beth Zartman and Raven Parker.

A group of second-graders had finished the sentence, "Peace means " Bria Wilson wrote, "Peace means being honest, no fighting, being friendly, helping others and no wars."

First-graders made paper hands and wrote on the hands, "Peaceful ways to use our hands." Two read: "Feed the birds" and "Clap your hands."

At the end of the evening, the Rev. Beth O'Malley, one of the two ministers at Columbia United Christian Church and a distant relative of Baltimore's new mayor, thanked some of the 20 volunteers recruited from the church.

The program, she says, relies on the talent, creativity and elbow grease of people. It's a creative program that encourages peaceful interaction among families. She would like to see the program in more schools.

Information: 410-730-1770.

Kudos!

Kerry Waddell, seventh-grader at Patapsco Middle School, placed second on the state level in a young author's contest sponsored by the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council.

Paul Spranklin and Jonathan Nation, fifth-graders at Elkridge Elementary School, planted a perennial garden in front of the school April 8 with the help of landscape designer Nancy Grabowski, parents and teachers.

L'chaim!

Last week, I visited the pond that my father had dug for his children 40 years ago. A spotted frog floated lazily in water thick like primordial stew. Semi-opaque clusters of eggs lay nascent in the center of the pond.

I saw and heard no peepers. Their exuberant chorus had inspired me as I wrote my first column more than two years ago: I would celebrate the chorus of community voices that made our communities rich and unique. I have loved the stories I have heard and shared.

The new eggs in the pond were probably salamander eggs, a friend said -- they will hatch and disappear into their surroundings. That metaphor too seems apt for a columnist who is hanging up her pen and returning to community life.

My invisible partner for the past two years has been editorial assistant Fay Lande, a first-generation American who was raised in Manhattan. Our experiences often seemed worlds apart. She has still never seen a peeper.

From her chair in a modern office building, Fay pushed me to explore the emotions beneath the surface of every story I wrote. I understand, through our sharing, how much we can be enriched by stepping beyond our past, expanding our limits, sharing our stories and being human and humane with each other.

To her and you, I say l'chaim -- to life!

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