Summer campers focus on careers, technology

About 300 city pupils volunteer to attend

August 01, 2002|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

Joshua White is considering a career in commercial baking. And video production. And computers.

At 13, he has dabbled in all of those fields through a career and technology camp at Edmondson/Westside High School in West Baltimore.

The six-week program also has given Joshua a taste of carpentry, automotive technology and electronics. But, so far, baking has the most appeal, he said, "'cause I like food."

Joshua is one of about 300 pupils - who completed seventh and eighth grades this year - from around the city taking part in the camp. That total is about 100 fewer than usual because record numbers of city pupils were required to attend conventional summer school programs this year, said Ardenia Handy, director of the camp.

The campers have come voluntarily, forfeiting weeks of summer vacation for extra academics and hands-on career training. More than half will get perfect-attendance awards when the program, paid for by state career and technology education funds, concludes next week, Handy said.

"They're electing to be here and they love it," Handy said yesterday morning, as the pupils showed off what they had learned at the Skills Olympics at the Westside Skill Center building, which is part of the high school campus.

Part science fair, part show-and-tell, the competition showcased a range of projects. From the class in computer-aided design came floor plans for dream houses. The biotechnology pupils presented a model of the DNA double helix made of wooden sticks and cotton swabs. Cosmetology kids showed off artificial fingernails decorated with delicate flowers. Aspiring bakers dished up pizza, potato skins and ground beef quesadillas. Future scientists showed terrariums and worm farms.

Krystal Fitch and Janel Matthews, both 13, showed off a soldering iron, wire strippers, safety goggles and wiring sequences at the electronics display.

"I like working with my hands," said Janel, who is going into the ninth grade at Baltimore City College.

Over at the baking table, Toi Horton-Jones, 13, explained how she made fancy designs in white chocolate, dark chocolate and strawberry syrups.

"My teacher said they do things like this at restaurants, but I've never seen it," she said.

Community leaders, parents and school personnel served as judges for the competition, grading the 20 displays on appearance, creativity and technique. Among the judges was Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy.

The pupils were competing for trophies and certificates.

Some were so enthusiastic that visitors found it hard to move along to the next exhibit. The kids at the computer programming and software development booth held Edith Hydlett-Whitmore captive.

"I had to finally say, `I have got to go. I understand you know what you're talking about,'" said Hydlett-Whitmore, a curriculum specialist for the school district, who marveled at their enthusiasm and knowledge of computer languages.

"I'm excited about this," said Tina Wheeler, whose 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, attended the camp. "You're going from nail design to biotech to computers. I see a bright future."

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