FIFTH GRADE is the year to join Just Say No clubs, which meet monthly for activities that promote wellness and self-esteem.
"Just Say No" clubs are in full swing at all three North Carroll elementary schools.
Last year, the Hampstead Elementary Just Say No club received an award from Junction, a counseling service for substance abusers and their families, as an outstanding program.
This year's Hampstead club had a kickoff event that included country line dancing lessons, an aerobic workout, time in the school computer lab, plus board games and viewing a video of motivational speaker Sandy Queen.
In addition to wellness activities, the club discourages the use of alcohol, drugs and self-destructive behavior.
One month, "Miss Ciggy" discussed the dangers and problems associated with smoking. In December, Jaime Reed, athletic trainer for the Baltimore Orioles, spoke with the students about drug use, dealing with peer pressure and the value of positive role models.
"The kids were really excited to hear him speak," said Joanne Benson, whose daughter is in the club. "He told them about people whose careers had been lost due to the abuse of drugs. That really came home."
This month, the fifth-graders received T-shirts with the club logo, designed by student Kim Rostek. The slogan, "Do hugs, not drugs. Just say no," borders two arms encircling the word "life." Her T-shirt design was chosen by school staff from those submitted by fifth-graders.
Picking up the tab for printing the shirts were two club members' parents, Steve and Kelly Gailey of Steve's Lawn Care, and Tom and Denise Waynick, local builders.
Future activities include guest speaker Susan White-Bowden, local rock and anti-drug group Magi and a state trooper who will demonstrate the skills of a police dog.
Business expo on tap
Hampstead neighbors new and old will benefit from the 13th nTC annual Hampstead Business Expo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 24 at North Carroll High School, 3801 Hampstead-Mexico Road.
This year's expo has packed all available space with more than 60 businesses and organizations, representing about half of the Hampstead Business Association, which organizes the event.
Hourly entertainment in the school auditorium will include D's Magic at 10 a.m., Rhythm and Shoes at 11 a.m., and the North Carroll Ensemble at 1 p.m.
At 2:15 p.m. in the cafeteria, auctioneers Neil Owings and Jack Reedy will take bids on items ranging from home appliances to clothing donated by area businesses.
Proceeds will benefit Christmas in April, a nonprofit group based in Westminster.
Radio station WTTR-AM 1470 will broadcast live from the expo.
Stop and chat with representatives of community service groups, including the Town of Hampstead, North Carroll Public Library, Manchester 4-H Maniacs, the county Health Department and area Scout groups.
Four $100 drawings will be held. No purchase is required, but the winner must be present.
Don't miss the Rotary Club Breakfast, beginning as usual at 6 a.m. Breakfast is served at the Hampstead Fire Hall, 1341 N. Main St.
Food at the expo will be provided by Domino's Pizza and Porky's, which is known for barbecue, hot dogs and ocean fries.
If someone takes your picture, it might be Kathy Rampolla of J&K; Graphic Design, who serves as treasurer of the Hampstead Business Association.
Any business interested in membership should visit with Mary Lee Keppler of Keppler Contracting, who is membership chairman for the association.
Among the Hampstead businesses registered for the 1996 Expo are: A Grand Affair at the Mill, All About Me Books, Bob's Variety, Black & Decker, Carroll Investment Center, C&D; Garage Doors, Charlestown Furniture, Documax Graphic Services, Douglas Furniture Restoration, Eline Funeral Home, Hampstead Big "A" Auto Parts, Hampstead Sports, The Ink Spot, Lizzies Lockers, Moebius Connections, National Association of Self-Employed, Outside Unlimited, Sleepy Hollow Herbs & Gifts, State Farm Insurance and many financial institutions.
Information: Dottie Wilhelm, expo director, 374-2767.
On the small screen
"We were on a brief segment, about a minute, of the Wednesday night news," said Ms. Rampolla, who with other board members of the Hampstead Business Association, watched themselves on WMAR-TV news.
The television station had attended the February meeting of the association.
"They were finding out what we thought about their news station," she said. "The news segment panned board members. Approximately 20 members were there. It gave us some exposure."