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The pressure was on.

Should 12-year-old Quincy Caldwell cover part of his house with brick? Or, should he leave it bare?

He couldn't decide. But he had to do something quickly. His Macintosh computer class was having a contest to design the best house andQuincy was behind.

Most students already had printed their home designs and placed them on the blackboard.

"Hurry up," said teacherCindy Stallings.

She only had a few minutes before the end of class, when students would exchange their computers for a hairbrush or awelding tool. The classes are part of a summer career camp at the Center of Applied Technology North in Glen Burnie.

Still, Quincy hadthree minutes to go in computer class. The Glen Burnie boy looked nervous. He kept pushing a button to add brick to the side of his two-story house, then he erased it. Finally, he decided to keep that area brick-free.

But should he add another gable to the single-gable home? Quincy fidgeted, then started the outline of another gable. Then he erased it.

More students placed their homes on the wall. They began voting on the best one.

"Hold on, the best house is yet to come," Quincy yelled, as he pushed the button to print his masterpiece.

The tall youth ran over, grabbed the sketch off the printer and stuck it on the blackboard under the No. 12 sign.

"Don't vote untilyou vote for No. 12," he said, smiling.

Too late. No. 1 was the winner, a house complete with a kite, a deck and curtains.

But Quincy wasn't too upset. "I've learned a lot. I think it's fun," he said before walking to the cafeteria to grab a hot dog.

The computer course is one of 13 classes offered at the weeklong summer camp, which ended yesterday. Another session is planned from July 8 to 12.

The3-year-old camp giveskids ages 12 to 13 a chance to explore career interests in subjects that range from welding to cosmetology.

"Thisgives kids a direction toward a career," camp administrator Lizbeth Stouch said. "A lot of students may not choose the careers they learnabout here, but some will."

Added cosmetology teacher Robert Herlth: "This is an exploratory program. We're helping them make a decision before they have to make a decision. The biggest problem is that they have no direction before they get there."

Camp teachers also battle the stereotypes surrounding vocational-technical education.

"We want to dispel the old myths, such as vo-tech students are not capable of going to college and that there's no theory involved in vo-tech education," she said. "Some people don't realize that vo-tech kids have paperwork, reading and homework."

Students choose two classes and spend the week learning about them. But they don't just stand back and watch. Teachers get them involved in the activities.

Several students enrolled in the food preparation class, for example, were busy Monday cooking hot dogs for the 160 people involved in the program. Others were applying icing to delicate gingerbread houses.

"You learn how hard it is to prepare food for a lot of people," said Laura Lewis, 12, of Severn.

Over in the cosmetology class, studentswere learning the art of beautiful coiffures.

Eleven-year-old Sahrah Lacher certainly had learned the technique. Her mannequin's brunette hair displayed perfect waves.

"I'm real good at this," the Pasadena resident said. "This is what I want to do."

But the real challenges were reserved for the nursing students, who spent part of themorning playing bingo and rolling around in wheelchairs. There was acatch, though. They performed these activities while pretending to be handicapped.

"That's the idea," Stouch said. "These kids are turned on to learning. They really care about learning."

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