SINCE IT WAS organized less than three months ago, the Key Club at Severna Park High School has attracted nearly 60 members - teen-agers who have more on their minds than the funky fashions, R-rated videos and pierced body parts that youths are given credit for these days.
The club, whose first organizational meeting took place in mid-February, is sponsored by the Severna Park Kiwanis Club. The high school club was chartered with 32 members, says Jonnie Mann, Kiwanis adviser for the students.
"It's amazed me - they just started working on this so recently," says Mann. "How do people find out about this so quickly?"
The objectives of the student organization would hardly make the top 10 list of personal goals for the average teen-ager. Among them: to develop initiative and leadership; to provide experience in living and working together; to serve school and community.
Members are encouraged to become useful citizens and to emphasize the spiritual rather than material aspects of life - and "to encourage the daily living of the golden rule."
Still, there seems to be a surprising number of willing participants among the student body at SPHS.
Teens know that as members of Key Club, they'll be expected to donate a good part of their time to volunteering in the community. Not only do they have to come up with ways to make a difference, they also have to earn the money to put those ideas into action.
This hasn't been a problem at Severna Park. "The kids have hit the ground running," says club adviser Naomi Bundy, the school's computer instructor and technology troubleshooter. The club meets after school on Wednesdays in Bundy's computer lab, where the young people huddle about their next volunteer gig.
"They've already conducted a bake sale to earn money, and they manage all the money themselves," says Bundy, who researched the club before agreeing to take on the job of adviser.
Bundy says she's there to offer advice, but that the club is a student-run organization. Officers are Erin Waskom, a 17-year old junior, president; Rainier Pinero, also 17 and a junior, vice president; Jamileth Marcano, a 16-year-old sophomore, secretary; and the treasurer, freshman Raphaelle Beard, 14.
"We just had a very successful clothing drive," says Bundy. "They collected over three truckloads of clothes and distributed them between the county food bank, Partners In Care, and Helping Hurting People Inc., a charitable organization in Glen Burnie run by the Rev. Joe Franklin and his wife, Vonzella."
Recently, the club received a call from Linda Zahn, executive director of the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce, asking members to empty trashcans at bus stops on Old B&A Boulevard - one at Macey's Corner, another in front of the Bank of America building.
As if there were nothing better to do on a beautiful spring afternoon, more than a dozen students showed up at Macey's Corner with Bundy, armed with large plastic bags. Donning protective gloves and wielding brooms, they tackled the messy job.
Joining Key Club officers Erin, Raphaelle and Rainier were juniors Debbie Maddox and Keith Thomas, both 17, and Amanda Baker and LaQueisha Chambers, both 16; sophomores Nina Pelc, Jason Butler and Linda Lawler, all 16, and Michele Henderson, 15; and freshmen Nichole Samuels, 15, and Megan Bentley, 14.
About a dozen Key Club volunteers worked throughout the day Saturday at the craft festival at Kinder Farm Park. They turned out to be real pros at making snowballs and selling soft drinks.
Kiwanis clubs are organized into districts. The Severna Park High School group is part of the Capital District, with 10,000 Key Club members and encompassing an area that includes Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
"There are 23 divisions in the Capital District," says Mann, a Kiwanian since women were invited to join 10 years ago.
50 years of entertainment
One of the county's most successful nonprofit organizations - the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association - is getting ready to celebrate 50 years of bringing quality instrumental, vocal and dance entertainment to the Severna Park area.
The association - ever in need of volunteer help, according to spokeswoman Judy Sander - invites the community to attend its annual open meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church on Benfield Road.
Its programs are presented at Severna Park High School, with subscription rates for 2001-2002 - and this is not a misprint - $35 for an adult, $80 for a two-parent family, $45 for a one-parent family, and $10 for a student.
You and your family will have a couple of chances to see the Kelly-Miller Circus in the Central County area - at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. June 5 at the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company on Ritchie Highway.
The Severna Park Optimist Club selected the Oklahoma-based circus for a major fund-raiser. Proceeds from the advance sale of tickets will provide the money needed to continue the 25-year-old club's tireless efforts to improve the future of the community's young people.
Purchase tickets in advance - the Optimists receive 50 percent of presold tickets, but much less from those sold at the box office on the day of the performances.
Starting Saturday, tickets will be available at Clement Hardware at Ritchie Highway and Robinson Road, Be Beep-A-Toy-Shop in Park Plaza and the 7-Eleven at Jumpers Hole Road and Benfield Boulevard.
Advance tickets are cheaper, too - $7 for ages 12 and older, $5 for those ages 2 to 11. On the day of the show, they'll cost $9 and $7. Information: 410-879-5694.