A CLASSROOM AT Long Reach High School could have been mistaken for the Ritz's Palm Court Tea Room when 11th-grader Lisa Cameron presented her independent research project on tea.
Her recent presentation was in the form of a proper English tea party, complete with fine china, creased tablecloths, dainty finger food and, of course, tea. "People were going mad for the tea," said Ann Strozyk, the Gifted and Talented Program resource teacher who oversaw Lisa's project.
Lisa, 16, found it difficult to choose a research topic at first. "I took Independent Research thinking I would do something international," she said.
But she also loves cooking. Then her idea began to brew.
"I like different cultures, and I like to bake, so I just combined the two together," she said.
A hobby of hers was also infused into the topic: For three years, she has been collecting teacups.
Lisa intended to produce a recipe book of traditional tea fare. However, as she did her research, she discovered that there is much more to taking tea than gobbling up cucumber sandwiches and scones. The 5,000-year history of tea and the ceremonial aspects of its preparation intrigued her. Soon, "the recipes took a back seat to the history and tradition of tea drinking," she said.
Lisa got some information firsthand, by visiting an establishment that serves high tea.
"I went to Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art," she said. Her mother, Robin Cameron, friend Nadia Lefcourt and Strozyk joined her there for a lesson in the art of preparing and serving tea.
Lisa produced a book of her findings about the beverage and presented her research to staff members and students Jan. 5 during a tea party after school.
"It was a special event," Strozyk said. "We literally sampled everything she made."
As music by Mozart wafted in the background, guests nibbled egg salad rounds, poppy seed jam tarts, English scones and other delicate morsels that Lisa had prepared.
Guests were students Ninoosh Sadeghi, Kerrie Lorch, Judy Chang, Julie Tran, Barbara Do, Rashmi Bhanot and Nadia Lefcourt; and staff members Loren Weiss, Vicki Sofianek, Tandra Taylor, Nedra Margerum, Rene Wasserkrug, Tammy Foyles and Strozyk. Lisa's mother and Lias's sister Amy also attended.
The event was soothing and relaxing, Strozyk said. "We were just really enjoying each other's company." In fact, Strozyk enjoyed the afternoon so much that she decided to hold a tea for her colleagues. She hopes afternoon tea becomes a regular occasion at the school.
"Tea is good," Strozyk said.
Marching in the rain
Eric Posner, a senior at the University of Massachusetts and son of Long Reach resident Marcia Posner, braved the cold, wet weather to march in the presidential inaugural parade Jan. 20 in Washington. Eric, 21, is one of 300 members of the university's nationally recognized Minuteman Marching Band.
An alto saxophonist, Eric insisted that his mother watch the parade "from a nice, dry place," Marcia Posner said. She watched the parade at home on television, but was disappointed that she could not see her son.
"He was closest to the reviewing stand," she said, which meant he was farthest from the TV cameras.
But that proved to be a good position for Eric, his mother said. "He got to look eye-to-eye with George W. [Bush]. I didn't get to see Eric, but George did."
Work for sale
The Oakland Mills High School chapter of the National Honor Society will hold a Service Auction at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the school auditorium.
Participants can bid on services provided by NHS members, such as baby-sitting, cooking, lawn mowing and car washing. Proceeds will go to local charities. Admission is free, but donations of canned goods, clothing and toiletries to be distributed to needy families will be accepted at the door.
Hot ideas for relaxation
It's a busy time of year for Carole Nathan, health assistant at Oakland Mills Middle School. With all the usual winter sicknesses in full swing, she wouldn't dream of taking time out for a relaxing cup of afternoon tea.
"I do drink tea," the mother of three said, but not to relax. "Tea is my morning drink," she explained.
Instead of tea time, Nathan unwinds with "family time," when she and her family watch a movie together and just hang out at home.
"It's very relaxing because we're all there together," she said. "No laundry, no reading - just being together."
If she still feels frazzled, Nathan has another strategy.
"Hot lemonade is very soothing. I sometimes relax with a cup of hot lemonade," she said.