Pupils' project puts them in TV spotlight


October 31, 2002|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW WINDSOR Middle School pupils' wetlands project is not only great for the environment, but will zoom them into the spotlight.

Maryland Public Television will air a segment on the project on ZOOM, a popular children's show.

"I found their wetlands project story on their Web site, and it's a perfect example of `zooming' into action," said producer Frank Batavick, who attended New Windsor Middle School in the late 1970s. "These one-minute stories on ZOOM showcase children volunteering and having a positive effect on their communities."

The show also is part of an effort to introduce local angles to ZOOM, which airs every day at 5:30 p.m. on MPT.

The environmental project started four years ago. The pupils, with the help of Carroll County Technology Center's environmental engineering class, researched existing plants and wetlands boundaries behind the school. Such research included what plants would be selected for each ecosystem of the project.

They also developed a slide show of the project and what wildlife they hoped to attract. They presented the slide show to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Natural Resources Conservation Service as part of a grant application process.

They began their first planting in the wetlands in 1999 with 400 plants, including 16 species of shrubs and trees. Last spring, they put in 500 plants.

While the pupils knew they were doing something worthwhile, they never expected it to lead to appearances on ZOOM.

"When I first heard, I asked, `People from the zoo are coming?'" said sixth-grader Hanna Martin. "Then I was told, `No, ZOOM.' I was like, wow. I told them [MPT] I was a big fan."

Eighth-grader Lindsay Young had much the same reaction.

"Wow, I'm going to be on a television show," Lindsay said.

Travis Whitcomb, also an eighth-grader, was more circumspect.

"I thought it was neat because we could inform others about wetlands," he said.

For the children, getting on ZOOM was no easy feat. They had to fill out an application and answer a half-dozen questions such as "What was the weirdest dream you ever had?"

"The application part was the hardest," Hanna said. "The questions asked were questions I have never been asked before. I had either too many choices or not a single thought in my head."

But once the pupils were selected, six eighth-graders and 22 sixth-graders, the real fun began.

"I went through like 500 outfits before I found what I wanted to wear," said eighth-grader Jacqui Williar. "And then I looked like a cat on a stick."

Being on television was enough reason to be nervous. That all their peers were watching compounded matters, the pupils said.

"They were filming us in the courtyard, and every face was pressed against the glass looking at us," Hanna said. (The courtyard is enclosed with four glass walls.)

Principal Don Bell praised the pupils for their work with the show.

"We are very proud of the way our students handled this unique experience," Bell said. "They were excited and enthusiastic, yet were self-disciplined, mature and listened carefully to directions."

The eighth-graders were filmed together and asked what the wetlands project meant to them. Their segment will run in spring.

The sixth-graders were asked one question each. These will be aired sporadically over the next year on MPT.

Key's coffeehouse

Francis Scott Key High School will hold its annual cabaret and coffeehouse from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Students will entertain patrons, who may sample baked goods and beverages.

Information: 410-876-7309.

Turkey dinner

Tom's Creek United Methodist Church will hold its turkey and oyster dinner from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The dinner will include mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, sauerkraut and stuffing. The cost is $10; $4.50 for children ages 5 to 10; and free for those younger than age 5. Carryout dinners are $11.

The church is on Tom's Creek Church Road off Route 140, west of Taneytown.

Health fair today

Taneytown Senior Center will hold a health fair from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. today. The fair is open to people of all ages.

Screenings for cholesterol, skin cancer and arthritis, advanced orthopedic services, vision and balance will be offered.

Colorectal cancer screening will be performed by Carroll County Health Department for $7. Booths will be set up on assisted living, cancer and Bureau of Aging services.

Information: Jackie Boisvert, 410-756-4557.

Kettle-fried chicken

St. Joseph Parish Center will hold a chicken and ham dinner at noon Nov. 9.

The dinner will include kettle-fried chicken, ham, scalloped potatoes, hush puppies and string beans.

The cost is $9; $5 for children ages 6 to 12; and $3 for age 5 and younger.

The center is at 44 Frederick St., Taneytown.

Information: 410-756-2500.

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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