Coalition serves as advocate for state's historic burial sites


April 30, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MEMBERS OF the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites met at the Blue Point Grill in Ellicott City on April 20 for the coalition's annual meeting. About 35 members from throughout the state ate a buffet brunch, heard guest speakers talk about Maryland cemeteries, and then visited two Baltimore cemeteries.

The coalition, a nonprofit organization based in Ellicott City, was founded in 1991 and is involved in "educational advocacy for burial sites," said Kristin Kraske, who has been president for two years.

Members are not averse to rehabilitating graveyards by pulling weeds or sprucing up headstones, but that has not been the group's focus, Kraske said. "We mostly work on the level of legislation and education," she said.

They are working on proposed legislation that would specify what to do if unmarked graves are discovered in Maryland. The law is not clear, and the coalition would like to ensure that efforts are made to contact the families of the deceased. Of course, if body parts are found, law enforcement authorities must be notified - but beyond that, the law does not spell out requirements for moving bodies in unmarked graves, Kraske said.

The three speakers at the meeting were John Stewart Morton Jr., who talked about the Westminster Burying Ground; Robert Mosko, who spoke about gravestone restoration; and Steven V. Sklar, director of the Office of Cemetery Oversight for Maryland, who discussed how the government agency works.

After the meal and the speakers, coalition members took a bus to Baltimore, where they visited two historic cemeteries, Old St. Paul's Church Cemetery and Westminster Burying Ground, where poet Edgar Allen Poe is buried. The latter was not part of the original plan, but coalition members asked the bus driver for a visit after being inspired by Morton's discussion.

In addition to Kraske, who lives in Columbia, the group's officers are Ed Taylor, vice president; George Horvath, treasurer; and Barbara Sikora, secretary. Board members are Leonard Becraft, Ann Bolt, Dorothy Brault, Melvin Mason, Paul Miller and Jim Trader.

Charity game

It was parents vs. teachers during a recent basketball game that raised more than $5,000 for the American Cancer Society.

The teachers and staff members at Worthington Elementary School defeated the parents, 56-54, in a crowd-pleasing game April 18 at Mount Hebron High School.

More than 600 people attended the game, and their donations at the door made it possible for the school to present a check to the American Cancer Society for $5,694.

"It was really a great event," said Gail Nickells, a parent who attended. "It was a touching moment when they handed the check to the American Cancer Society."

The basketball game was organized by fifth-grade teacher Kenji Jackson. At halftime, certificates were presented to the children in each grade who had read the most books during a recent "Read to Feed" program, which collected nonperishable food items for the Maryland Food Bank.

Those who read the most books were Mallory Baldwin, kindergarten; Kenny Wong, first grade; Sarah Warren, second grade; Caroline Blackwood, third grade; Irene Loizou and Sara Gramada, fourth grade; and Matthew Ivey, fifth grade.

Garden club sale

The Cross Country Garden Club will hold its annual sale Saturday on the parking lot on Chevrolet Drive, off St. Johns Lane in Ellicott City. The sale will run from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., rain or shine.

The event is a combination yard sale and plant sale, with many members contributing plants from their gardens. Admission is free.

Information: 410- 730- 6481.

Smile day

Everyone knows that a smile can be your umbrella on a rainy day. The youths at Elkridge Elementary School also learned that smiling can be fun. On March 20, the school held Smile Day.

Schoolchildren were given smiley stickers, and teachers rewarded the "smiliest" child in each class with a free cafeteria snack. The children also wrote postcards designed to make their friends smile, which were delivered within the school by the Wee Deliver Post Office.

Young historians

Twenty-two children from Dunloggin Middle School entered a Central Maryland History Day competition last month, and 12 won in their category. The event, sponsored by the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was part of a National History Day competition that is held every year.

Schoolchildren were asked to research a topic that addressed the theme "Revolution, Reaction, Reform History." Students in junior and senior high schools throughout the state were urged to compete.

The winners from Dunloggin were Anna Beekman, Catherine Blackwell, Kathleen Brophy, Casi Collins, Beth Dummett, Claire Flanagan, Kelly Hetzler, Lilun Li, Alison Swanner, Katherine Van Lent, Mollie Vorel and Michele Weiss.

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