HOPING TO DEBUNK common misconceptions about reptiles, Michael Shwedick visited Mount Airy Middle School yesterday with his traveling entourage of cold-blooded companions.
Shwedick, owner of Reptile World in Bowie, informed students that a bite by a venomous snake does not always mean death, and that an encounter with a reptile in the wild typically ends with the reptile fleeing, instead of biting.
The 90-minute program, sponsored by the school's Parent Teacher Student Organization, was part of the organization's yearlong emphasis on providing cultural arts programs.
Shwedick, who has a collection of rare and dangerous reptiles numbering several hundred, was at ease on the stage handling the exotic animals.
An assortment of snakes, including a South American boa constrictor, timber rattlesnake, and the deadly Indian python, copperhead and India cobra, joined Shwedick. He also showed students an American alligator, an African crocodile, a venomous Gila monster lizard and a 5-foot-long iguana.
Shwedick provided a powerful science lesson, explaining the characteristics of the animals, how reptiles differ from mammals, tTC and their place in the environment. He also gave students a chance to see the reptiles up close.
For 27 years, Shwedick has been talking about reptiles to audiences on the East Coast, all the while adding to his collection.
A childhood fascination with reptiles prompted Shwedick to read all he could about the creatures. He began giving talks on reptiles while in high school.
Even though he has no formal education on reptiles, Shwedick considers himself somewhat of an expert in the field.
"I'm able to effectively teach about reptiles and convey a variety of messages," he said.
If the spring-cleaning bug has bitten, take advantage of Mount Airy Elementary Spring Kidstuff Yard Sale and turn children's used, outgrown toys and clothes into cash.
Sponsored by the PTA, this annual event runs from 7 a.m. to noon May 3 at the school's athletic field, 405 N. Main St.
Vendor spaces are available. Spaces are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the sale. Vendors are limited to the sale of children's items -- toys, books, clothes, furniture and baby items -- and maternity clothes.
Information: 301-829-1515 or 301-831-0005.
Scouts perform service
Cub Scouts in Webelos Den 1 will rise early tomorrow to complete a community service project. The Scouts will plant 16 trees at Watkins Park in cooperation with the town's Beautification Commission. The Scouts are members of Mount Airy's Pack 460.
Den leaders Cheryl Washington and Glenn Mullinix approached the commission looking for a community service project for the boys. By planting dogwood trees, the Scouts will satisfy requirements to earn their forester badge.
Participating Scouts are Michael McKenzie, Zac Chillemi, Michael Willingham, Kyle Tilghman, Bryan Smith, Michael Mullinix, Mark Mullinix, Ryan Washington, Justin Gilman and Robert Etzler.
Mount Airy Saddle Pals English and Western Horse Show will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday at Mount Airy Carnival Grounds, Twin Arch Road and Route 27.
Registration begins at 8: 30 a.m. Ribbons will be awarded in numerous categories, from novice to expert riders. Sandy Weinreich will judge the event.
Information: 301-829-3019 or 301-831-5230.
Christy Kruhm's Southwest Carroll Neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 4/04/97