Children set goal to be champions of achievement


January 23, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHELPS LUCK Elementary School pupils might tell you that they have made it into the Super Bowl, but don't mistake them for Ravens. The Phelps Luck folks are having a Souper Bowl. It is achievement at school that gets them in.

The Souper Bowl is part of a school program called Random Acts of Achievement, said second-grade teacher Lynne Layman, one of the organizers.

The soup bowls in question are symbols of children's achievement. When pupils reach a goal, they affix paper letters to large soup bowl posters hanging in the hallways for each grade. Eventually, the bowls will be brimming with alphabet soup.

The achievement need not be grand. It can be as simple as "staying on task" or finishing a piece of work, said teacher Dan Graham. "Of course, kindergartners will have different achievements from fifth-graders," he said.

The Souper Bowl began last week with an assembly that highlighted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of achievement. As pupils filed into the cafeteria, band director Karen Alexander and fifth-graders Morgan Denhard and Morry Zolet played a Mozart selection on stage.

The assembly opened with a poem about achievement, titled "No Limits," that was written by first-grade teacher Randi Rosen- blatt, who helped to organize the event. Readers were first-graders Julia Miller and Florence Atitsogbui, second-grader Stefan Ptaszynski, third-grader Dijon Duenas, fourth-grader Jessica Fontaine and fifth-grader Holly Tartanian.

Then three guests spoke to the youngsters about King's achievements. The Rev. Thomas Moody of Mount Zion United Methodist Church discussed King's impact on the country. Natalie Woodson, NAACP volunteer and former elementary school principal, focused on King's academic success. Riley Jennifer, a twelfth-grader at Oakland Mills High School, shared his own scholastic and athletic achievements.

Layman presented the Souper Bowl challenge to collectively score 1,000 acts of achievement within two weeks. Many children, inspired by the speakers, knew immediately what they would strive for.

"I want to get all A's and B's and become an author," declared Langan Denhard, a third-grader in teacher Toi Davis' class. Classmate Tony Heydorf said his achievement will be "to finish all my work in five minutes!"

The day continued with about a dozen guests visiting classrooms to tell about their accomplishments. Pupils began decorating blocks for an achievement quilt, which will be assembled tonight during the school's Family Night. The finished quilt will hang in the cafeteria and might serve as a reminder of the refrain of Rosen- blatt's poem:

I have a dream, I can do anything There is nothing I cannot achieve I have a dream, I can be the best So long as I want to believe.

Young writers honored

Two fifth-graders at Talbott Springs Elementary School will be honored today for their achievements in the Howard County Public Schools' Computer Learning Month Contest.

Nicole Albee placed second and Reeta Francis placed third in the Computer-Generated Writing category of the countywide contest.

The school's media specialist, Janis Gordon, said both entries were gleaned from a "getting to know you" assignment completed in a media class this fall. Students wrote "tall tales" about themselves, creating clever exaggerations of their true characteristics.

Gordon says she was so impressed with some of the writings that she entered them in the contest.

Albee and Francis will receive certificates and prizes at a fifth-grade assembly.

School benefit

Readers can find a good book while they help out a school at Barnes and Noble bookstore in Ellicott City tomorrow night. The store will donate 20 percent of proceeds from sales between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to Dasher Green Elementary School in Columbia.

The evening will feature guest readers from the Dasher Green staff, including Barbara Stuart, Barbara Hensel, Debi Tobin, Jenelle Millett, Laura Goodman, Lisa Farley, Melanie Conway, Kim Eubanks and Hildegard Comstock.

Information: 410-313-7601.

From wheels to blades

One might think that figure skaters who make it to a national championship have been on the ice since they could walk. That is not the case for Jason Weisberg, 11, who competed in the U.S. Junior National Figure Skating Championships in Colorado last month.

The Owen Brown Middle School sixth-grader started out as a champion of a different sort - from age 5 until he was 7, Jason was a dirt bike racer at a track near his house, said his mother, Rachelle Weisberg.

Jason excelled, placing first in his age group, but then his career skidded to an abrupt halt.

"The track closed down and moved to the Eastern Shore," said Rachelle Weisberg. So Jason found another close-to-home alternative. He took up ice skating at the neighborhood rink.

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