BEFORE THEY PUT away their books and turned off their creative juices for the holidays, more than 100 pupils in Carroll County submitted poems and short stories in an annual contest sponsored by the State of Maryland International Reading Association.
When they returned to school last week, eight pupils learned their entries were Carroll County winners.
"There were some really interesting stories, and the poetry showed a great deal of creativity," said Cynthia Teesdale, an integrated language arts specialist at Eldersburg Elementary School. She coordinated the Young Authors' Contest for Carroll Reading Council.
"The entries were about all kinds of things -- pets, aliens, nature, what it's like to be out of school. Some entries were sad, and many were very personal," Teesdale said.
Daniel Zawacki, son of Ginny and Brian Zawacki, found inspiration for his winning poem, "The Walk," after he and his classmates left their second-grade room at Friendship Valley Elementary for a quiet venture into neighboring woods.
"We sat out there in the quiet and focused on the sights, sounds and smells of nature," said Brian's teacher, Pauline Sinclair. "It was a special moment.
"All of the students wrote down their feelings and observations for poems. Their poems were wonderful."
The contest was open to all Carroll County pupils in second through fifth grade. Entries were due Dec. 18, and winners were announced early this month.
The winning authors will attend a reception in the spring. They should hear if their entries won at the state level early next month. Winners include:
Poetry -- grade two: Daniel Zawacki, Friendship Valley, "The Walk"; grade three: Maureen Stimola, Taneytown, "Traveler"; grade four: Raquel Melendez, William Winchester, "A Totally Pleasin' Season"; grade five: James Billingslea, Friendship Valley, "Tucker."
Short stories -- grade two: Zachary Holmes, Eldersburg, "Matt Finds a Friend"; Grade three: Melissa Harding, Taneytown, "The Snake Who Didn't Have a Friend"; grade four: Kelsey Bowen, Robert Moton, "Help! There's Something Wrong With My Soup"; grade five: Matt Carman, Taneytown, "Cinderella: The Animal Version."
It's not often that a high school senior is featured on a compact disc that got lots of play this holiday season and will probably sell during many future holidays. But that is what happened to Westminster High School's Danielle Lentino.
Danielle, daughter of Donna and Lynn Lentino, joined singers and musicians from Carroll County and elsewhere to record "Carpenter's Christmas."
The CD was produced by Frank Bramble and Dan Aitken, who is a fellow member with Danielle of Carroll Community Church.
After two recording sessions that lasted about two hours each, Danielle polished two songs -- "I Wonder as I Wander" and "Silent Night."
Other songs featured on the CD include an original called "Lord of the Manger," "The Holly and the Ivy," "For Unto Us," "The Christmas Song" and "What Child is This?"
Singing for a career is Danielle's goal, and she hopes to study voice at Ithaca College in upstate New York.
"I started singing as soon as I could talk, but I used to be shy," Danielle said. "My grandmother would pay me a dollar to sing for her."
Danielle sings with her church's youth worship team and takes voice lessons from Maureen Seibel of Westminster.
Other vocalists featured on the CD are Dona Sauder, Diane Martindale, Trisha Duke, Carol Davis, Lynn and Pat Colgan, and Maggie Bramble.
Instrumentalists are Jim Burns, Mike Hirsh, Joanne Sayre, Dominic Iacavone, and the Red Maple Trio -- Barbara Rookard Harryman, Larry Hitchcock and Lee Kiessling
Joe Duke, pastor of Carroll Community Church, took the photo that appears on the cover of the CD. It shows Aitken holding a guitar in a room near an old carpenter's chair.
If you want to get a jump on this year's Christmas shopping -- a big jump -- "Carpenter's Christmas" is available through the church on CD for $15 or on tape for $10.
Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County Edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 1/11/99