You would have thought they had won a free trip to Walt Disney World or a check from the state lottery, or a year's supply of pizza. But the students in Donna Price's fourth-grade class at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School were jubilant about another prize. A group of students in their class won grand prize in a countywide Arbor Day Poster Contest.
Their teacher had kept the results of the contest a secret for weeks -- only she and Mary Stong, the school principal, knew. They were waiting for just the right moment to spring the news on their students.
That moment came Friday, when Donna Baker of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources arrived in their class with a huge, mysterious cardboard box.
The students were excited when she announced that they had won the contest, sponsored by the Carroll County Forestry Board. First, all eyes opened wide and mouths dropped, and when the news sank in, the kids began jumping up and down and grinning from ear to ear and high-fiving and punching each other on the shoulders and hugging classmates.
Parents who were invited to the class blinked back tears.
Then Ms. Baker gave them their prizes -- she pulled from the mystery box T-shirts that had the winning poster duplicated on them -- and the children, all at once, put on the shirts.
They posed for pictures -- all the adults present seemed to have cameras in hand.
The jubilation changed to quiet and cooperation as the fourth-graders posed for photo after photo. It will be a day they'll probably remember for a long time.
All the fuss was about the poster that six students in the class -- Young Novalis, Chris Bassler, Colin Cook, Rebecca White, Joy Page, and Danielle Hess -- created about the importance of trees. It's a striking poster in deep shades of blue and green, with a tree and a treehouse in the middle.
At the edges of the poster, the students wrote why trees are important: they provide resting places, create fresh air, and are homes to treehouses and birds' nests.
Said Young Novalis, one of the poster's creators, "Carroll County is a beautiful place, and if you plant a tree you can make it even more beautiful."
Ms. Baker said the students were allowed to use only certain colors in the poster, so it could be reproduced on T-shirts.
The forestry board's contest judges looked for posters that demonstrated that the students really understood the important of trees and had done some thinking about it. Mrs. Price's students did just that.
Dr. Stong said, "The children showed a great deal of enthusiasm in presenting themselves; they thought, 'If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right.' "
The T-shirts can be ordered from the forestry board for $11 each. Write to the Carroll County Forestry Board, 328-A Nicodemus Road, Westminster 21157, or call 848-9290.
Congratulations to Marie Tomarelli of Uniontown for her recent successes in competitive swimming.
Marie, a Francis Scott Key sophomore and a member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retriever Swim Club, swam in the U.S. Swimming Association's Eastern Zone meet in Princeton, N.J., last month. The competition showcased the athletic ability of the top two swimmers in each regional area.
Marie swam for the Maryland team. She placed second in the 100 and 200 butterfly race, and sixth in the 400 individual medley.
"I went to the meet last year, but didn't do too well. This year was a lot more fun," she said.
Marie has been swimming for the Retrievers, which has a branch at Western Maryland College, for two years. The swim club is open to anyone.
Marie enjoys the sport. "There's a real team spirit," she said. "You make a lot of friends. And you learn a lot. It's really a mental sport, too. You have to be not afraid to mess up."
Marie was encouraged to swim by her parents, even though they never swam competitively, and a baby sitter she had years ago when the family lived in New Jersey. Marie's younger sister, Katie, is also a member of the Retrievers. Richard and Kathy Tomarelli are their parents.
More congratulations go to Mary Winter of New Windsor. Mary, a senior at Francis Scott Key High School, won first in her age category at the Germantown YMCA race in Philadelphia April 22. She completed the 8.4-mile run in 80 minutes.
Mary has run cross country races for Key and participated in road events.
She loves to run and focuses on the finish.
She wanted the experience in running in a bigger race, so she persuaded her parents to take her to Philadelphia for the weekend.
Mary runs six days a week, and enjoys exploring new roads and nature as she does.
Mary will go to Hood College in the fall. Her parents are Mary Jo and John Winter.
On Wednesday, you have the chance to visit some inspiring residences and gardens in Carroll County. The 58th annual House and Garden Pilgrimage comes to Carroll County to showcase 12 homes, including those of Uniontown area residents Jerry Trescott, Nick and Chris Vincent, Mary Ellen and Walter Bay, and Robert Scott.
Tour tickets are $5 per home or $20 for the day. Proceeds will benefit Union Mills Homestead. Information: 239-7109 or 239-8129.