Getting ready to dive back into it

Monday is the start of school and the end of lazy, carefree summer fun for area kids

August 26, 2006|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN REPORTER

For the life of him, Danny Hunt, 13, couldn't figure out what was going wrong.

All morning, he had done flips from a swing hanging 20 feet over a pool at the Beaver Dam Swimming Club, but as the day wore on, the eighth-grader's luck turned bad and his stomach was paying the price.

"I'd been doing back flips easily, but now I can't do it," Danny said yesterday. "Now I've just been belly flopping."

Undeterred, Danny, along with 11 of his closest friends from Rosa Parks Middle School in Olney, hit the swing again, keeping with their quest to make the final Friday of summer vacation the grandest day of them all. Nathan Craft, 13, said despite the hourlong car ride to get to the pool, "it's the best way to end the summer."

For Danny and Nathan, and many other youngsters, the days of carefree play are ending. School begins Monday for public schools in the Baltimore metropolitan area, and the happy-go-lucky days of summer will be replaced with the textbooks and exams of fall.

Dijohn Thomas, 13, dreads that day. Dijohn, who shot hoops at Druid Hill Park yesterday morning, said he wished he had made more out of his time away from school.

It seems Dijohn, who will be an eighth-grader at Booker T. Washington Middle, spent a good portion of the summer in trouble at home.

"I'm a talker," he said. "So foul language comes out of my mouth. And I'm a little disrespectful, so my grandma kept punishing me."

Dijohn is not exaggerating in his self-analysis. He was the loudest and foulest of a group of six kids who took to the black hardcourt of the city's biggest park.

Rather than divide into teams or keep score, they just played basketball for the sake of shooting. Some of the kids were friends, while some had just met.

But all were bonded by a disdain for the impending doomsday that marks the start of school.

"I don't want to go back, but you know, you got to go," said Tevin Barnes, a seventh-grader at Dunbar Middle School. "But I had a good summer, going to a lot of amusement parks. And I hit the basketball court every other day."

Tevin kept shooting and dribbling after most of the others took a break. He played a little one-on-one with Ciara Kent, his friend who had shaken a couple of male defenders in the earlier shoot-around.

Ciara, 13, plans to try out for the girls' basketball team at Patterson High.

"She's nice," Dijohn said while watching her. "Her crossover, she crosses up everybody."

Meanwhile, at another park in Cockeysville, Melissa Pearce, 16, used the summer for a different purpose - work.

The junior at St. Timothy's, a private school where classes begin Sept. 4, earned some spending change as a cashier at Oregon Ridge Park, where she has worked since Memorial Day.

Business was slow yesterday, leaving her with too much time to focus on what she has to do before school starts.

"I have to finish up reading," she said. "I have to go shopping for schoolbooks, then I have to get school uniforms, new skirts. I have a lot to get done.

"It's definitely a bummer. I've had a fun summer, and junior year is going to be hard year, so I'm anxious about it. This is such a laid back job, it's going to be hard to get back into such a demanding schedule."

While the water at Oregon Ridge had few people in it, a little down the road, back at Beaver Dam, the pool was packed.

A steady line of 15 kids remained at the hanging swing.

The middle-school kids from Olney were joined by high-schoolers and a couple of students from Towson University, forming a hodgepodge that took advantage of the water on a 90-degree day.

"It's so cool," said Danny Hunt, "that you can come to a place and swim that is legal."

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