Fourth-graders set sail to learn about Chesapeake Bay [Loch Raven]

Fourth-graders from Halstead Academy and Pleasant Plains Elementary had the opportunity to study bay life up close when they participated in a Living Classrooms sailing expedition. Funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the program allowed the students to spend the day on the water engaged in hands-on authentic science investigations.

The students used video microscopy to learn about plankton, organisms that live in the water and, because they can't swim against the current, are a crucial source of food for fish. They performed a boat build to learn about buoyancy and participated in an oyster dissection to learn about the anatomy of an oyster. Using a trawl net, they caught sea life and Living Classroom staff taught the students information about the fish and other creatures they pulled up in the net.

Students also learned about sailing as they worked together to raise and lower the sails with the help of parent chaperons on either of the two boats: schooner Lady Maryland and skipjack Sigsbee. One student commented that this was the best part; he said it was "awesome as you had to use a lot of muscle power and strength to set the sail."

The adventure helped to reinforce the lessons the students learned throughout the year about aquatic life and gave them the opportunity to see the bay. They had worked diligently on bay restoration projects in their classrooms.

Susie Peeling, resource teacher for both schools said, "the trip was a huge success filled with fun and learning."

Congratulations to Calvert Hall College High School junior, Nicholas Bullis who was named the national video winner of the 2012/2013 First Freedom student competition. The annual event is open to ninth- through 12th-graders and is hosted by the First Freedom Center, "a non-partisan, non-denominational, non-profit organization that advances the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience through education, monitoring, and advocacy programs." Students compete for monetary awards by submitting an essay or video evaluating the history and current day relevance of religious freedom.

This year, 1,842 students entered from public, private, parochial and home schools including American student from as far away as Kenya and Nepal. For this year's critique, students were to study George Washington's letter to a Jewish congregation in Newport Rhode Island in which he wrote of religious freedom and religious equality for all citizens. Next they were to compare how well the US has lived up to the standards outlined by Washington. They could present their findings in either an essay or a video.

Bullis was awarded $2500 for his video, which can be viewed at

On Sunday, April 28 the youth at Hiss United Methodist Church took the leadership roles for the morning worship service. With the help of youth group leader Emily Smiley and Pastor George Weitzel Jr. the youth followed a theme of "Let my Life Song Sing to You." Michelle Cody, Ezy Chikwere, Holly Edwards and Kenyon Booker shared the responsibility of the writing and delivering the sermon. Kenyon Booker, Ashley Kiebler, and Zach McDermott portrayed the message "Don't touch sin, but if you do, the words of Christ will help you break free of it." The Hearts on Fire Youth Choir directed by Chuck Solomon sang "Me Without You" and the group acted out "We all Want to be Loved."

The youth group meets weekly at 6:30 p.m. on Sundays and in addition to taking on responsibilities and doing mission projects, they take time for activities such as bowling, lock-ins and other fun events. Community youth are invited to join them.

Upcoming community events at the church, 8700 Harford Road include a plant sale May 9, 10 and 11, a flea market May. 18 and a Boy Scouts car wash May 11. Call the church at 410 668 5665 for more information.

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