At Talbott Springs Elementary, a trip around the world

NEIGHBORS

March 26, 2002|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

GUESTS AT Talbott Springs Elementary School's fifth International Night were treated to a trip around the world -- without setting foot out of the school's multipurpose room. This month, Talbott Springs' families and staff members presented food, crafts and clothing from their native countries in a celebration of the school's diversity.

The Talbott Springs population includes children from more than 40 countries, said Bonnie Johnson Allen, the parent in charge of PTA communications. The children's native tongues include indigenous African languages, Chinese, Danish, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese, she said.

"We are very proud of our multicultural heritage," Allen said. "Our diversity is our strength."

The evening's "travelers" immersed themselves in other cultures through conversation, food and entertainment. People practiced saying "hello" in 11 languages at a booth run by parent volunteer Stellina Hegngi, who is originally from west Africa. Her daughter, Kendra Essim, is a prekindergartner.

For those who found food more culturally fulfilling, there was pupusas (cornmeal pockets with cheese and beans) and semita (bread with pineapple) from El Salvador at a booth run by parent volunteers Maria and Mauricio Campos. Their daughter, Cecilia, is in fourth grade at Talbott Springs. The Campos family enjoys being a part of the school. "We really like the staff and the principal," Maria Campos said.

Authentic dishes from Korea, Italy and Venezuela also were prepared by volunteers.

Throughout the evening, the stage was filled with entertainers. Among the performers were dancers in colorful costumes from the Elifrey Caribbean School of Dance of Lochearn. A workshop in the Art of Kimono was one of the highlights, and the school's band and orchestra demonstrated the Mexican hat dance. Children also performed songs and dances.

The annual event is fun and important, said Pam Mitchell, an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher. "It's important to the children when the school spotlights their heritage," Mitchell said. "It makes them realize they are important to the rest of the school."

Fifth-grader Ivette Mercado, born in Mexico, thought International Night was meaningful for another reason: She sang the Spanish song "Pedimos Paz," which means "We Want Peace."

"The song is special because it will make people realize that children want peace in the world," Ivette said.

This year's event was organized by PTA President Lois Bailey. Other parents and staff members who worked diligently to make the night a success were Shari Grue, Bill Wade, Carrye, Jones, Karen Alexander, Sharon Higdon, Bonnie Hodder, Cheri Oswalt and Imaru Romero.

Basketball stars

The Hammond High School girls basketball team was honored with state Senate citations last week.

The Golden Bears, led by head coach Raymona Jackson, advanced to the Class 2A state finals this year, their first tournament appearance in six years.

State Sen. Sandra B. Schrader held a pizza party for the girls, their coach and Principal Sylvia S. Pattillo. Then the group toured the capitol in Annapolis, had their pictures taken in the Senate chamber and were introduced to the Senate at the start of the session.

Schrader is a resident of Kings Contrivance in Columbia. Her daughter, Whitney, a Hammond High School sophomore, is on the team.

Other team members are seniors Rachel Foley, Ashley Pietryka, Tara Sammichieli, Mica Williams and Melissa Workman; juniors Kelly Berger and Jessica Friedheim; and sophomores Kristen Jenkins, Chanel Payne and Alisha Sanford.

Black Saga winners

More than 35 Owen Brown Middle School students competed in the Black Saga Academic Contest taking place in schools throughout Howard County this month. The contest measured their knowledge of African-American history.

The Owen Brown first-place winners were Kohlya Eggleston, Bethany Vanderhorst and Bethany Watson. Second-place winners were Bernard Bond, Christian Richardson and Kristin Watson; and third-place winners were Tyiesha Johnson and Cindy Ochoa.

Special Olympians

Salt Lake City wasn't the only place for Olympic events this year. Ten skiers from the Howard County Special Olympics program competed in the state Winter Games held at Wisp ski resort in Garrett County last month.

The team claimed eight gold medals, six silver and one bronze in Alpine and cross-country skiing events.

Four of our neighbors brought home gold and silver medals in the competition: Jane Ahn and Randi Penenburgh tied for the gold in the cross country 50-meter and 100- meter races. Michael Aguilar won the gold for advanced giant slalom and advanced slalom. And Brian Vary scored a gold for advanced downhill skiing and a silver for advanced giant slalom.

Howard County's Special Olympics director, Bob Baker, was pleased with the results.

"All the aerobics sessions, walks at Centennial Lake and work on the slopes paid off with great individual efforts and many medals," he said.

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