THE HOWARD County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is doing its part to help Ellicott City's African-American children succeed at school. To generate enthusiasm for the new school year among students and parents, the NAACP held a Back-to-School Rally last month at Hilltop Housing Development in Ellicott City.
"We have three main goals for students," said Natalie Woodson, the Howard County NAACP education committee chairwoman. "Perfect attendance, good grades and good conduct."
FOR THE RECORD - In my column of Sept. 5, I indicated that the Elkridge Heritage Society initiated the "Honoring Our Veterans" project. A correction is in order. The Elkridge Heritage Society is among the supporting organizations, and the Viaduct newspaper is the sponsor.
The back-to-school event, which included a community picnic and musical performances by Phil White and Brittany Newsome, combined the practical and the inspirational. All students in attendance received complimentary school supplies, and three lucky families won Apple computers in a raffle.
Parents who attended the rally also received the NAACP's "Handbook for Parents," which offers guidance for parents seeking to become more involved in their children's education.
Many community leaders attended the rally, and those who addressed the audience spoke directly to the students. The predominant theme was the value of education in securing a meaningful future.
"Without education, I would not be where I am today," said County Executive James N. Robey.
Like Robey, many of the speakers are products of Howard County public schools. Among them wereDavid Lindsey, second vice president of the Howard County NAACP, and Wayne Livesay, Howard County police chief. The students were given many examples of what can be attained through education.
"I encourage all students to never give up on their dreams," Lindsey said.
The rally also provided an opportunity for parents and students in the Hilltop and Ellicott Terrace communities to meet the new school superintendent, John R. O'Rourke.
"Please give Mr. O'Rourke a very warm welcome," said Hilda Barrett, mistress of ceremonies. "You may well be the first group of Howard County kids he's met."
In his remarks, O'Rourke stressed the importance of parental involvement in helping children succeed at school.
"My first teacher was my mother, who taught me that every child can learn," O'Rourke said. "We know that all of you can learn, and we're counting on it."
Gloria Washington and Lynne Newsome, co-coordinators of the Black Student Achievement Program, acknowledged the behind- the-scenes work of Pam Curry and Karen Carter. Curry and Carter coordinate the Hilltop Homework Club, an after-school and summer program to facilitate learning among the community's children.
The event concluded with words of wisdom from Edward Young, an NAACP education committee member and a former teacher and administrator in Baltimore County.
"Time is like a snowflake," Young said. "It will disappear while you're trying to decide what to do with it."
With support from the Rotary Club of Elkridge, the Elkridge Heritage Society has initiated "Honoring Our Veterans," a project to document the military experiences of Elkridge's veterans. All current or former residents of Elkridge, Relay, Ilchester and Jessup who served in any branch of the military can participate.
The project's primary means of gathering information is a questionnaire distributed to veterans. The Elkridge Heritage Society is collecting mementos of participants' military service for a planned Veterans' Day exhibit.
Information: Mary Snodgrass, 410-796-1850, or Polly Thornton, 410-796-0505.
Bobby Kohler of Troop 759 in Ellicott City has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Kohler's Eagle Scout project involved the installation of an electrical and heating system at the Thomas O' Farrel Youth Center's library in Clarksville. On July 29, Kohler was honored at a Court of Honor and reception at the National Guard Armory in Ellicott City.
For the second consecutive year, Troop 759 won the Scouting skills and athletics competition at the Rock Enon Boy Scout Camp in Gore, Va. In addition, troop member Andrew Kosiba received an individual award for achieving the highest score in archery among all Scouts at the camp.
Ellicott Mills Middle School Principal Michael Goins has been named an Apple Distinguished Educator.
The Apple program recognizes educators in many countries who innovatively integrate technology into their curricula.