Big 40th birthday bash in works for school


April 18, 2002|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IF THINGS had taken a different turn 40 years ago in Severna Park, there would be no Benfield Birthday Bash on April 26 - at least not by that name.

When considering what to call the elementary school under construction in the spring of 1962, the committee of citizens given the task to select a name thought it should be called Piney Grove.

Fortunately, the committee members - including Benfield's first principal, Mary McGoury - looked around and noticed that most of the trees on the property were oaks, maples and dogwoods, and changed their minds. They named the $825,000 school for its location on Lynwood Drive just off Benfield Road.

On opening day, Sept. 6, 1962, 700 pupils were welcomed by 26 teachers. The school's opening helped to relieve crowded conditions at the other elementary schools in the greater Severna Park area.

Over the years, Benfield has expanded to include kindergarten and Early Childhood Intervention classes, a media center, a computer lab and a portable classroom.

The number and variety of staff at Benfield today probably would astonish the employees 40 years ago. With a student body of 400, the school includes 25 teachers and four teacher assistants, a principal and two secretaries, a nurse, health assistant, an occupational and a physical therapist, an instructor of English as a second language, a psychologist and a pupil personnel worker. There also is a cafeteria manager and an assistant, a chief custodian and two cleaners, plus a lunchroom monitor and a recess monitor.

The birthday celebration for parents, teachers, alumni and friends has been in the planning stages for months. The party will feature game wheels, dancing to a DJ and a silent auction.

PTA president Liz League and her auction committee, Kim Offutt and Cathy Dixon whose husband, Clair, was in the first class at Benfield, have secured an impressive list of gifts and services to auction during the party.

"People have been so generous," League said.

The three Benfield moms are especially proud of a weekend sailing package offered by the Annapolis Sailing School; a day at the races for 25 people from the Maryland Jockey Club; and a foursome of golf with a cart at Renditions Golf Club in Davidsonville.

"Each grade is producing artwork for the auction," League said. A jelly cabinet will be decorated with artwork from fifth-graders.

For a complete list of auction items, visit

The celebration for Benfield Elementary School's 40th anniversary will take place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. April 26 at the Severna Park Elk Lodge on Truck House Road. Tickets are $13.50 each. Information: 410-975-0262.

Help in many languages

Libraries throughout the county have access to a language translation service to help staff assist patrons who have questions but have trouble expressing themselves in English.

A man who primarily spoke Chinese came into the library a couple of weeks ago and asked a question about using the library's computer, said Natalie Edington, a librarian at the Brooklyn Park branch library, the only branch to have used the service so far.

Edington contacted the language service and was connected with a translator who spoke Chinese. She asked the man's question in English, and the translator gave the answer directly to him in Chinese. It made the process go much faster, Edington said.

Patrons can receive aid in more than 60 languages, including Spanish, French, Hindi, Russian, Korean and Vietnamese. The service works either in person or over the phone.

For more information, call library headquarters at 410-222-7371 or contact your local library branch.

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