Strobe lights are flashing at Oakland Mills High to repel turkey vultures

education notebook

January 21, 2007|By John-John Williams IV

If you've driven by Oakland Mills High School in the early morning or evening, you might have noticed strobe lights flashing from the roof.

The lights are a way to repel about 100 turkey vultures that roost on the roof and rip away patches of material in the process.

The vultures started showing up in November, and school officials are illuminating the strobe lights every day from 5 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Maintenance workers are exploring the use of reflectors to repel the birds.

"They [maintenance workers] are looking for the least invasive way to get rid of them," said Principal Frank Eastham.

So far, the birds' presence has affected only the roof.

"The kids are a little freaked out by them, but they are not aggressive with the kids," Eastham said. "Because they are such a large bird, the kids are a little apprehensive."

The birds, which can get as wide as 5 feet and as tall as 26 inches, are not new to Howard County.

Last year, a Columbia homeowners association hired an animal-control contractor to remove more than 100 vultures. Residents in Glenwood, in western Howard County, also have complained about the birds.

Several years ago, a Wilde Lake village neighborhood used noisemakers to drive the birds away.

"I'm sure once we move them here, they will move down the road," Eastham said.

Getting ready to vote

The election process has begun for what could be Howard County's first student member with voting rights.

Applications for the position are due Feb. 15. Sophomores and juniors may apply. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Students may obtain an application from their principal or their school's student government adviser. They may also contact Roger Plunkett, the business, community, government relations officer for the school system, at 410-313-6610.

The Howard County Association of Student Councils will run the election.

A selection committee -- made up of the current student board member, Wossen Ayele, the HCASC president, second vice president of HCASC, a Student Government Association adviser from a school not represented by the candidates and a designee of the superintendent -- will meet Feb. 21 if there are more than two candidates. The committee will decide on two candidates, and a countywide election will be held April 18 to select the student member. All Howard County middle and high school students will be eligible to vote.

This month, the school board approved a draft of a bill that would give the student member a board vote.

The bill is before a Howard County legislative delegation, which will consider the measure and vote on it. If approved, the bill would move to the full General Assembly for consideration.

If the General Assembly passes the bill, the newly elected student member would be able to vote in the 2007-2008 school year.

Fighting cancer

More than 120 Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School students are expected to arrive at Brunswick Bowling tomorrow afternoon in Ellicott City to help battle cancer.

The school's second Bowl-A-Thon will benefit the Children's Cancer Foundation. Last year's event raised more than $6,700 for the foundation, and students have their sights set on exceeding that amount.

"The Bowl-A-Thon is a very special event that raises money for cancer because we care about people who are facing this horrible disease," said fourth-grader Alex Potts, vice president of the student council. "Everyone at school is very excited about the Bowl-A-Thon."

Meghan Haag, a fifth-grader who attended the event last year, said: "You get to have fun and help people at the same time. My two brothers and I are really looking forward to it. My Dad is even volunteering to help out during the Bowl-A-Thon."

Lauren Register, who led the school in fundraising last year with $330, will participate again.

"I want to try to raise more than I did last year," said the third-grader. "Last year, I got an award, and I felt happy that I helped kids with cancer. I knew that my money would help them get better."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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