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4th-Grade Kids Do Surprising Work


I must admit to a soft spot for dogs. Ask my wife. I'm sure sh thinks that, given an opportunity, every stray purebred or mongrel would find its way to our house, with me on the other end of the leash.

So, I was already familiar with the plight of greyhounds who don't make the grade on the racing circuit and are put to sleep. But I never saw the issue handled so completely until I picked up a pamphlet the other day.

The surprising thing was that the pamphlet was written by three fourth-graders from Stevens Forest Elementary School. Apparently, Zhenia Bulawka, Tori Paris and Rachel Stoutenborough took some pity on what they call "these precious dogs" and decided to do something about it.

The trio put together the pamphlet as part of their gifted and talented Type III assignment. Kids throughout the school system do these projects. The work from Stevens Forest is just a sample of what is regularly produced.

(Parents with children already in enrichment classes can just tune out this portion of the column. I don't mean to bore.)

A Type III project is one that involves an investigation of a real problem. The process includes coming up with a problem, identifying ways to solve it and presenting the results to an audience.

That may seem like a lot for an elementary school student to

FTC handle, but they seem to manage well.

The greyhound pamphlet was distributed throughout the Stevens Forest neighborhood, and it is remarkable how much work was done.

"For more than 3,000 years, greyhounds have been bred to hunt by outrunning their prey," the pamphlet states. "This made them attractive to racing trainers." The pamphlet also explains to readers how much it costs to own such dogs, their life expectancy, size, color and other traits.

But that's not all that the kids at Stevens Forest have been busy with. Fourth-graders Amy Foreman and Lindsay Derenberger did their gifted and talented project on endangered animals that are poached, including seals, dolphin and elephants.

Fifth-graders Marissa Lyon, Sara Berlin and Jessica Hartranft did their project on disaster preparedness. Greg Burzynski, Teddy Faley and Russell Brammer, also fifth graders, produced a fact sheet on car crime prevention -- a timely subject in light of recent car jackings. And, classmates Michael Burgoon, Jeff Pie' and Marcus Bryant came up with a fact sheet on steroids.

Once again, it's not only the kids at Stevens Forest who have done such projects. If I could mention every student at every grade level, I would. If their work is even half as good as the Stevens Forest bunch, than they've all done a very good job.

Kevin Thomas is The Baltimore Sun's editorial writer in Howard County.

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