Happy New Year 2013! I hope this new year is full of optimism, joy, peace, good health and prosperity for all. I noticed that there were a lot of West Laurel grown up kids coming home for the holidays, including my own. I hope everyone had an opportunity to slow down a little and take in the spirit of the holidays.

Our neighborhood's Prince George's County community police officer, Cpl. James Beasock, cruised the neighborhood many times and chose three houses he felt were the best of the best Christmas light displays. Drum roll, please: 15311 Bond Mill Road, 15806 Sherwood Drive and 6403 Sandy St. There were dozens of Santas and snowmen, which transformed front yards into dazzling inflatable wonderlands. Thank you to all those spreading illuminated cheer whether it was for the loveliness or just the sheer fun of it.

Did you know that if you are 60 years old or better, you can join the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, next to the hospital on Contee Road, for free? If you've been telling yourself that you want to check the center out but just haven't done it yet, start the New Year out right with a visit. The center offers so many classes like computer, ceramics, woodworking, dancing, crochet, Spanish, physical fitness and so much more. They have a dance once a month, a coffee shop you can visit every day and a monthly book club. The center gives our seniors in Prince George's and Montgomery counties a place for fellowship where they can talk about the old days and a place for new experiences and enjoyment. It's 2013, what are you waiting for?

The West Laurel Civic Association will be sponsoring a meeting and lecture on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. at the West Laurel Community Building. Sgt. Michael Rudinsky, of the Hyattsville Police, will tell you everything you want to know about gangs. The sergeant is an expert on this subject and comes highly recommended. Parents of middle and high school students as well as other community members are encouraged to attend, since many wonder about graffiti and other possible signs of gang presence.


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Chesapeake Math and IT Academy is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, Prince George's County public charter school here in our area, right off Sweitzer Road. The school focuses on mathematics and information technologies in grades six, seven and eight, and enrolls many Laurel students.

CMIT will host its second annual STEM Fair at the University of Maryland on Jan. 26. The school is inviting professionals in the community to judge the STEM Fair projects. If you have any background in these fields and would like to encourage our future professionals in the various fields of science, engineering and technology, please participate by serving as a judge.

To volunteer or for information, contact Lynne Collman, lynne.cmit.sciencefair@gmail.com. Online registration for judges is available at .