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Barbara Bush will be visiting with Helen Banghart's second-grade class at Worthington Elementary School on Thursday, and the kids are excited. They've heard that Bush will be reading them a story.

Danyale Goode, 6, knows that Bush is important because "she's the president's wife" and that the president is important because "he takes care of the whole world."

The second grade class spent some time yesterday making pink, blue and violet paper flowers for the first lady. Danyale held her pink flower against her face and shrugged when asked why she was excited that Bush was coming to her school.

But 7-year-old John Higgins knew why he was excited.

"She's going to read us a story," John said with a big smile.

Joining Bush at the school on Thursday will be Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a host of security people and the news media.

At 1 p.m., the first lady and the governor will kick off Maryland 2000, a program to involve communities in improving schools.

In the morning, Bush will meet with Worthington's approximately 515 pupils outside in the parking lot.

Then she will be greeted by the27 children in Banghart's class -- all sporting freshly made flowersand many toothless grins.

Elizabeth Bohn, 7, said yesterday that she was excited to meet Bush but just shrugged and shook her hair when asked to explain why.

Banghart said she really hadn't discussed the visit with the pupils yet, because yesterday was the first day ofclasses. But before Bush's visit the pupils probably will learn moreabout the first lady, she said.

The visit added more planning to the first week of school for teachers and administrators, Worthington's principal, Betty King, said.

"There are two kinds of noise. Thegood noise is when the children are active and involved," she said. "This is a good disruption."

She said all the administrators and teachers must be flexible because she found out about the visit only 10 days ago and the teachers got the news about a week ago.

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime," King said about Bush's visit. "How often will they get to meet the first lady? So it's been a planning pleasure."

But while making the flowers, one pupil asked why the president couldn't come and read to them.

As Banghart probed for answers, 7-year-old Chris Dantuonosaid the president had to stay in the White House because "you never know when a war is going to start."

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