Pupil learns `principal' of leadership


April 24, 2001|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALYSSA SEMONES, 8, of Mechanicsville Elementary School spent her school day Friday in an unusual way. She assumed the role of principal after winning the honor at the school Mardi Gras celebration last month.

Principal Anna Varakin explained that the school on Sykesville Road has a Mardi Gras celebration every March. Games, prizes, and raffles are part of the fun. Each teacher provides a prize that could include free riding lessons, videos or stuffed animals. Then there's the coveted "Principal for a Day" certificate. The winner performs the principal's duties, under Varakin's supervision.

Alyssa's day started with a small discipline problem on an arriving bus; someone had written on the back of a seat. The next order of business involved finding a substitute for an absent teacher, not an easy task on a Friday.

She then toured classrooms and returned to "her" office to order books for the school birthday club, making sure she stayed within her budget of $600.

Next, Alyssa attended an Author's Tea being held in teacher Susan Danrley's fourth-grade class. Pupil authors Heather Yates, Megan Cyhanick, Wesly Green, Gregory Belle, Nathan Stewart, Michael Amata, Stephanie Alvan, Megan Lowry and Mark O'Brien presented their writing to the class and visiting parents.

Alyssa heard presentations on topics such as "The 50 States of America" and "Why a Kid Should Not Be President," a moving story about a cat named Leo, and several other works. Refreshments were served.

The rest of Alyssa's day remained busy. She attended a lunch meeting with the office staff to discuss coming events and the calendar. She toured more classes and walked through the lunch area to help keep the noise level down. She also supervised kindergartners boarding buses for home.

Her favorite job of the day was tending to Pokemon, Assistant Principal Robin Townsend's pet hamster. Townsend was not in that day.

One of the main lessons Alyssa learned about being principal was simple. "People interrupt," she said, referring to the many times new situations cropped up in the middle of something else.

"As principal, our day is filled with interruptions, which often make it necessary for me to finish work after school," Varakin said.

But for Alyssa, school ended on time.

Patriotic notes

Patriotism was the theme Thursday night at Eldersburg Elementary School on Johnsville Road, with the performance of "That's What America Means to Me," a musical for children.

The fifth grade, consisting of 120 pupils, took part in the performance played to a full audience.

The production had four scenes, accompanied by songs such as "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "God Bless the U.S.A." and "I Am Thankful to Be an American."

Principal Jacalyn Powell said the children wrote the scripts and carried out all aspects of the production, including props, lighting, sound and stage management.

"The theme of the production coordinates with what the students are learning in history class," Powell said.

Music director Ida Franklin accompanied the children on piano. "Our kids don't learn to appreciate America like they should," she said. "We're trying to bring that back."

Mall walking program

A mall walking program will be launched from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 1 at Carrolltown Center in Eldersburg.

The program is offered by the mall with Northwest Hospital Center, Lifebridge Health Center and Health and Fitness, located at Carrolltown Center.

All interested participants should meet in the mall's center court. Registrants will receive a free T-shirt, water bottle, offers from mall merchants and health information.

Tiffany Livesay-Yakes of Carrolltown Center said that three trips around the mall is equivalent to one mile. She also said that the mall is a safe, climate-controlled environment, making it an ideal place to walk for fitness.

The mall is also sponsoring a contest to name the walking program. Ideas can be submitted during the inaugural event. A winner will be chosen by mall management and awarded prizes donated by mall merchants.

Registration is free, and will be held that day, and again in June. Participants can register the second Wednesday of each month beginning in June, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Information: 410-781-7070.

Debra Taylor Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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