EIGHTH-GRADER Eddie Allan sounded the call on his trumpet. Guidance counselor Joe Dymek -- dressed in turkey garb -- supervised the students at the starting line.
When the starting gun popped, they took off on Burleigh Manor Middle School's seventh Turkey Run on Wednesday.
The 1.1-mile cross-country course wound around the Burleigh Manor and Centennial High School playing fields.
Pupils finished amid shouts of encouragement from parents and teachers.
Barbara Calvert of the Howard County Striders, a running club, clocked each child's time.
Principal Barbara Hoffmann said the day was designed to focus attention on healthy alternatives to drugs: exercise, giving to others, and having fun.
As the day began, Hoffmann read the book "The Red Ribbon" to the student body from the school's television station.
The book's illustrations were displayed over TV monitors in each classroom.
Published by the National Family Partnership, the book has been used during Red Ribbon Week, usually observed in October, to promote drug-free living.
"The Red Ribbon" tells of a king who looked out of his window and saw beautiful gardens and farmlands. The people in his kingdom, however, suffered from "terrible sadness" and lived in fear. The king searched for a solution.
Finally, a simple weaver stepped forward. He asked everyone to gather round, then pulled a beautiful red ribbon out of a heavy brown bag.
The weaver asked that the ribbon be stretched throughout the kingdom and not be allowed to touch the ground.
People had to work together to accomplish this task. They began to smile as they found that "as long as their hands and hearts were joined together, they could conquer all sadness."
Staff, parents and the school's community partners joined together to create a festive day at Burleigh Manor.
The Turkey Run was organized by physical education teachers John Davis and Janine Powers, and health teacher Barbara Mongello prepared the drug awareness program.
Pupils Rebekah Culp, Stephanie Burrows, Katie Reck, Katie Nimmich, Lindsay Gertler and Ashley Neuworth served on the food drive committee. The drive ended on the day of the Turkey Run.
More than 1,950 nonperishable food items were collected.
Christopher Smith donated the most items with 60. Clayton Alexander and Caroline and Andrew Behringer tied for second with 47, and Liz Engle was third with 33.
The canned goods and 80 turkeys were donated to FISH of Howard County, a nonprofit group, with contributions from pupils, parents and the school's partners -- Parcel Plus, Plaxen & Adler P.A. and chiropractor Joseph Del Rosso,
Turkeys were donated in the names of those who placed first in each class in the Turkey Run.
Finishing first were sixth-graders Beth Harding and Samuel Stumpf; seventh-graders Nicole Harley and Jesse Chinni; and eighth-graders JR Test and Beth Foley.
Pupils dressed in red, tied red ribbons in their hair and signed a large red poster in the hallway that read "Take a Stand Against Drugs."
Awards were also given for the most creative dress.
Pupils made decorative paper turkeys, which were displayed in the school's main hallway. On each bird, they wrote one thing that could be given as a gift and did not cost money.
In the afternoon, the parents and staff organized face-painting, computer games, sponge-throwing and a dance.
The event has been a tradition since the school opened seven years ago. Mongello remembers watching the race in its first year as the runners went down into the valley that separates the school grounds from the rolling fields owned by former state Sen. James Clark.
Quickly, the heads came bobbing into view again -- running back toward the starting line.
Clark's steers had gotten loose!
That year, Mongello says, they called the race "the Bull Run and Turkey Trot."
The pre-Thanksgiving run is a tradition at Elkridge Landing Middle School, too. Pupils, parents and teachers ran in the school's fourth Turkey Trot Wednesday.
Some 30 adults joined the pupils in the morning races.
The young people danced and played games at the school in the afternoon.
First to cross the finish line were sixth-graders Brittany Gordon and Kyle Bayne; seventh-graders Timisha Gomez and Daniel Fields; and eighth-graders Kristin Newman and Michael Witmer.
Daniel broke the school record of eight minutes and 16 seconds with a time of seven minutes and 47 seconds.
Al Greuter, husband of math assistant Kathy Greuter, came in fifth overall and won the adult division.
Pupils also competed in a Turkey Trot at Dunloggin Middle School.
First-place winners were awarded turkeys; second-place winners received pumpkin pie; and third-place winners got bags of peppermint patties.
Boys and girls finishing first in the two races run by eighth-graders were David Schnorf, Staci Henderson, Jon Kaufman and Kelly Renzi.
Seventh-grade winners were Bret Alexander, Brittany Surkovich, Mike Burgtorf and Shelley McDuff.
Winners in sixth grade were Scott Fry, Claire McDuff, Justin House and Rosie Goldburg.
Patapsco Middle School, Worthington Elementary and Deep Run Elementary also held Turkey Trots, and Elkridge Elementary held a Turkey Run.
At Elkridge, donations were made to the Elkridge Food Pantry in the names of the winners, who received certificates.
Holiday cheer, charity
Many schools and community groups have planned charity events during this holiday season.
Hilary Sandberg, Team 3 leader at Ilchester Elementary School, has organized third-graders to collect school supplies for children living at the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.
The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department is sponsoring its eighth Christmas Holiday Food Drive to benefit needy families in the Elkridge area.
They have delivered more than 200 baskets.
Food and donations may be taken to the department at 6275 Old Washington Road in Elkridge.
Information: page Joe Slavotinek 410-678-0739 or call him at the fire station, 410-313-4901.
The Ellicott City Lions Club is holding its 44th Christmas Tree Sale at the Golden Triangle shopping center at Routes 29 and 40.
The lot will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., beginning today.
The club sells Fraser and Douglas firs, as well as Scotch and other pines. All of the trees are grown in northern Carroll County and cut within a week of delivery. Prices range from $20 to $60. Volunteers will bale trees in plastic netting and load them into customers' vehicles.
The club is also selling plain and decorated wreaths, white pine roping and small swags with holly and greens.
Proceeds support the Lions' activities in the Ellicott City area.
Pub Date: 11/30/98