While others complained about the problems facing today's youth, one local business challenged students at two elementary schools to improve themselves.
In the spring of 1993, Tom and Nancy Stuehler, owners of La Fontaine Bleu banquet hall, approached the school system with a program targeted at promoting attendance, good behavior and improved grades. At the end of each marking period, students meeting the criteria are invited to a luncheon at the banquet hall.
Last week, those students at Freetown Elementary and Park Elementary who qualified for all four marking periods enjoyed an afternoon of games, face painting and karaoke at a picnic at Down's Park in Pasadena.
"The first time we tried the luncheon we had about 200 students," said Jack Briley, marketing director for La Fontaine Bleu. "There were over 600 kids here the last grading period."
The luncheons have become quite an affair, according to Mr. Briley. Girls arrive wearing party dresses, while the boys don shirts and ties.
George Drummond, guidance counselor at both schools, sees the difference the program has made firsthand.
"Attendance has improved. The children's work habits and grades have improved," he said.
"One of the nicest things about this program is that it's not just about grades. There are some children who are not able to bring home A's and B's. This program recognizes they are trying to achieve," he said.
Getting into the program isn't easy. Students are expected to work toward established goals.
"If the goals were flexible, it wouldn't mean as much," Mr. Briley said.
The cooperation of the families has been part of the program's success. It's not unusual for parents to check up on their children throughout the semester to see if they are still eligible.
The staff at La Fontaine Bleu hopes area businesses will follow its lead and employ incentive programs at other schools.
"We'd like to see more companies get involved, adopt a school," Mr. Briley said. "They're only limited by their imagination."
Local author David Wisniewski will be a guest speaker today as part of North County Library's "Readersoraus" program. Presentations are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Mr. Wisniewski will demonstrate how he uses the shapes of shadow puppets to develop cut paper illustrations for his books "Elfwyn's Saga" and "Rain Player."
Other scheduled summer events include: a cartooning demonstration by Jim Sizemore, July 7; Lloyd Tidings brings a few slithery reptiles for a visit, July 21; Magic by Michael Chamberlin, Aug. 3; the Maryland Science Center will present "Dinosaurs!" to pint-size paleontologists, Aug. 18.
North County Library is located across from Harundale Mall. For information, call 222-6270.
Start the holiday weekend with a polka and a waltz when the Continentals perform at 7 p.m. Friday at an outdoor concert in the plaza of the Arundel Center North, Crain Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
Because seating is limited, concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit around the plaza fountain.
Do guests enter your home, sniff the air and ask how the new puppy is doing? Have your neighbors been running their air conditioners since March to drown out Fido's incessant barking?
Professional dog trainer and animal behaviorist Tim Wray will teach a six-week dog obedience program starting tomorrow at the Glen Burnie YMCA, 8 Central Ave. Pets do not attend the first session.
Puppy Basic Training for dogs 3 to 6 months old will meet for 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Classes for dogs 6 months and older are scheduled for 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Mr. Wray instructs owners using positive motivational methods. Handlers must be 14 years old or older. Pets must have a metal choker collar and a 6-foot leash.
Registration is $35 for members, $70 for nonmembers.
For information call 761-1251 or 761-1487.