THEY CALL it a silent auction, but don't let the name fool you. This Bollman Bridge PTA event is not silent, nor the least bit quiet. It is downright boisterous, but everyone seems to have fun competing to give money to the school.
This year's auction, the fifth for the elementary school, was held March 8 in the Great Room at Savage Mill. About 230 parents, school staff members and local residents came to bid on nearly 300 lots, ranging from a golf ball gift set to a week's vacation in the Shenandoah Valley. A live auction was held later in the evening, with magician Dean Turner as the gratis master of ceremonies.
Some items reflected parents' hobbies, such as an Adirondack chair set handcrafted by Bob Page and an end table hand-painted by Mitzi Goodwin. Others reflected occupations, such as the 10 cases of ice cream that Anita Martin got through her job at Nestle. Some parents whose children have outgrown the elementary school, such as state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, a Howard County Republican, made donations. Schrader provided a Maryland flag.
Bob Henig, owner of Bob's BMW in Jessup, has supported the auction every year, and not just because his son, Sam, is a pupil at the school. "I believe in giving back to the community in which you reside," he said.
Henig, who donated a BMW car-racing set, acknowledged that his business would not gain from his benevolence.
"Do I think I'll sell any motorcycles to the people at the auction?" he said. "No. I don't expect to lure any customers out of the school population. I try to put something on the auction block that will be fun and raise a lot of money."
Businesses with no personal connections to the school also donated generously, said Barbara Moyer, who co-chaired the event with Janis Dickson and Fox Cassidy.
"This is more of a community event," Moyer said. "Everyone who can do something does something. People really all come together. It's very group-oriented."
Moyer's husband, Bill Schneider, was the auction's "highest" bidder. He entertained guests as he strolled around on 28-inch stilts that he built for the occasion.
This year's gala, which had a Mardi Gras theme, hardly resembled the school's first auction in 1998. Then, it was a simple affair in the school's media center, in conjunction with a pupil sock hop
"We didn't think we were going to get an audience, which is why we combined it with the dance," said Susan Harpster, who was one of the first organizers, along with Judy Esposito. Some items from that first auction - particularly class gift baskets and teacher donations - continue to be hot sellers each year.
Esposito learned about the auction idea from a friend in Texas.
"That was their school's main and only fund-raiser," Esposito said. "I thought, `We can do this.'"
The auction has evolved into a popular, adults-only event, raising thousands of dollars for the school. Just as important, Moyer said, is the sense of camaraderie it fosters among parents, teachers and the community.
"A lot of schools are richer; they have people donating cars," Moyer said. "The fact that somebody is out in their garage for weeks, making Adirondack chairs for the auction - that's what this is about."
Reservoir PTSA starting
A nominating committee has been formed to find candidates for the Reservoir High School PTSA board of directors. The school, in Fulton, is to open in the fall with freshmen and sophomores.
Positions to be filled are president, first and second vice presidents, treasurer, recording and corresponding secretaries and two county PTA Council delegates.
Nominations must be submitted by the close of business Tuesday to be included on the slate. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the next meeting, April 22, at a location to be announced.
Send nominations to jlcarel firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Veronika Carella, 410-489-5495.
Information: Reservoir Web site, www.howard.k12.md.us/reservoir or subscribe to the electronic newsletter by sending an e-mail to ReHS@Starband.net with the word subscribe in the subject line.
Pupils from Hammond Elementary School had winning entries in the PTA's Reflections contest, a national program promoting the arts.
Winners at the county level are third-graders Amy Lee and Olivia Ostrom, both for musical composition, and second-grader Abby Goron for literature. Their entries will move to the state level for judging this spring.
You might think that auctions could be the precursor to morning-after regrets, but not so for Savage resident Cindy Leaper.
Last year, Leaper bid furiously on a table embellished with photos of every third-grader at Bollman Bridge, including her daughter, Taylor.
The price skyrocketed, butLeaper prevailed.
"I was determined to get it no matter what." she said. "I would have kept on going higher."
A year later, she doesn't regret the dear sum she spent on the modest piece.
"I want [Taylor] to have an heirloom so she can say, `These are my friends from when I was in third grade,'" Leaper said.