On a Friday afternoon earlier this month you could have been excused for thinking that a student rebellion was taking place in Hampstead. The Hampstead Bowling Center on Main Street was crowded with youngsters in the middle of a school day.
They were having a lot of fun but they weren't skipping classes.
"They certainly are attending class," said Linda Richards, a teacher for 28 years. "Each one of them is fulfilling a physical education requirement."
Richards is the perfect person to oversee a bowling session. The Hagerstown native lives in Hampstead and bowls in two leagues at the Hampstead center, Friday Mixed and subs in a Sunday league.
She began bowling at a early age and has continued for over 40 years.
"I'm pretty consistent [on the lanes]," she said. "I throw a backup ball and I'm usually right around my average [currently 164]."
But occasionally she does surpass that figure. Her career high individual game and set are 242 and 615, respectively.
How did the bowling program develop?
"It was a natural progression," Richards said. "The male teachers at North Carroll High School started a golf program for the phys ed classes but found that the two nine-week periods in the middle of the school year were not always conducive for golf outings."
A short while ago classes at local high schools were increased to 90 minutes. With the Hampstead center only a five-minute drive from North Carroll High it was a natural progression to begin conducting bowling classes during the months when weather can be a factor in outdoor activities.
Last winter the students at North Carroll were allowed to fulfil their phys ed requirements on the lanes.
"It's an understatement to say the students enjoy it," Richards said. "Believe me, they'd rather bowl than golf."
In the Saturday youth leagues at Hampstead Bowling Center, the bowlers compete in both duckpins and tenpins.
These youngsters emerged with the top averages in their divisions for the 1994-1995 season:
* Kacey Clayton, 15, a North Carroll freshman, has been bowling duckpins since the fourth grade. She started the season with a 72 average.
At the end of the season she had attained the Major Girls best average (97) and along the way picked up two titles: Star of the Month and Star of the Year.
* Ryan Smith, 15, a North Carroll sophomore, started his bowling career 3 1/2 years ago. He finished the season with a 104 average, tops in the duckpin Major Boys division.
* James Hesen, 16, a junior at North Carroll, has been a tenpin bowler for the past 10 years. He posted a 671 set last season and topped the Senior Boys tenpin division with a 174 average.
* Lindsay Hesen, 14, a sister to James, is a freshman at North Carroll and used a new bowling ball this year, jumping the weight from 11 pounds to 14. That paid off with the Senior Girls tenpin high average trophy but also won her honors for high game (177), high series and Most Improved Bowler; her average jumped from 122 to 130.