10-year-old wins in big way in sale of Oriole-game tickets



It wasn't even close. Not by a long shot.

During the annual Orioles game-ticket sale competition at Ilchester Elementary School in Ellicott City, Alex Pearsall, 10, a fourth-grader, used his networking skills and charm to outsell the competition in a big way.

Of the 1,015 tickets that pupils sold during the six-week competition, Alex sold 118. The second-best finisher sold 39.

Alex hit up the friends of his older siblings, family members, neighbors and members of the YMCA to gather the large quantity of tickets.

"He's a charming child; he's got loads of friends," said Jill Schutzman, teachers secretary at Ilchester and organizer of the fundraiser. "He got the little ones and the older ones. He's just a personable little boy."

As a reward for his achievement, Alex was named a "Heavy Hitter" by the Orioles. He will ride to the game in a limousine, be allowed to visit at home plate before the first pitch and get a few additional gifts from the team.

Alex said he loves baseball.

"Because I hit it really good in my games," he said.

Alex plans to bring his younger brother, Austin, with him to the game. And he has other plans.

"I'm going to buy cotton candy," he said.

Spelling bee in D.C.

Joey Haavik is building the reputation for making memorable impressions during spelling bee competitions.

Joey did a dance when he won the Howard County Spelling Bee in March. Today, the fifth-grader at Pointers Run Elementary School in Clarksville is scheduled to get into a limousine and ride to the 79th Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington.

Joey plans to wear a colorful Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses when he rides in the limousine, said Marie Haavik, his mother and coach.

Who knows what he'll do if he walks away with the top prize Thursday. "He's a song-and-dance man," Marie Haavik said. "He loves to act."

Since winning the Howard County Spelling Bee by correctly spelling "Zoroastrian," Joey has spent the past three months studying with his mother and reviewing the 2006 Paideia, a study guide that contestants use to prepare for the competition.

"He's been studying very hard," Marie Haavik said. "He's not studying 10 to 12 hours a day. He just wants to have a good time."

Joey, one of eight competitors from Maryland, will compete against 275 pupils from across the country.

"He's remained an average 10-year-old," said his mother said. "He doesn't know he should be pressured."

The Preliminary Championship Rounds will be televised live from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN. The championship rounds will be televised live from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday on ABC.

Granting wishes

After months of bake sales, car washes and other fundraising activities, Wilde Lake High School students are scheduled Tuesday to give $4,000 to a representative from the Mid-Atlantic chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation, a national group that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

"They give from the heart," said adviser Amy Smith. "The average high schooler is self-centered. These students can see the big picture of community service and giving to students. They are selfless."

Danielle Spencer, 18, a senior and president of the Wilde Lake chapter, said the donation shows that young people "still want to give back. ... I love making a difference."

The school club, which started six years ago, also has been busy hosting restaurant nights, where partial proceeds from sales go to the organization, and penny drives in school.

"It's going to feel like all of our hard work, events and dedication has paid off," Spencer said. "It's going to be amazing."

Student on board

What is the school board going to do without Jeff Lasser, the student member on the board, who has been instrumental in advancing student suffrage on the policymaking panel?

Board members said he has brought useful insight to policies and issues and has been the go-to person when the board has had technology-related problems.

"He's added a tremendous amount, particularly on student voting rights," board member Courtney Watson said Thursday, when Lasser was honored for his year of service on the board. "What a pleasure it has been to work with a student who takes the task so seriously."

Board member Mary Kay Sigaty presented the Atholton High School senior, who will step down from his position when his term expires at the end of June, with a black briefcase as a gift from the board.

Lasser said he had a great experience serving in the position for the past year. He thanked Roger Plunkett, business, community and government relations officer; Tony Miceli, adviser of the Howard County Association of Student Councils; Ellen Flynn Giles, an advocate for students; and Josh Michael, the student member of the Maryland State Board of Education.

"I've really appreciated my time," said Lasser, who plans to attend the University of Maryland, College Park, in the fall. "I wasn't sure what to expect. It's different looking at it from the outside."

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