Despite the fact that Dr. Benjamin Carson is a world-renowned neurosurgeon, 8-year-old Hyder Al-Abed had never heard of his fellow Howard County resident. But by yesterday, Hyder, two of his classmates and his 15-year-old mentor were able to give the community a presentation about Carson's life and the impact he has had on the county.
The five children made up one of 34 groups of pupils who researched the history of Howard County and went on stage at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School in Glenelg last night to showcase their work.
Triadelphia third-graders -- 126 of them -- were grouped with 34 neighboring 10th-grade mentors from Glenelg Country School to pick a piece of Howard history and give five-minute presentations using dioramas, graphs, posters and skits. The children created 34 lessons -- from Carson's life to the history of the Patuxent River.
Carson "wasn't good at school at first. But he decided to turn his life around, and eventually he was the best student in his class," said Hyder, whose group put together a poster and time line. "Now he is one of the best neurosurgeons in the world."
Another group tackled the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and used a skit and costumes to tell the history of how it was built.
"It cost 75 cents to ride, which was very expensive at that time," said Samantha Tomarchio, 8, who was wearing a gown meant to look like that of a passenger from the period. "It took an hour to go from Baltimore to Ellicott City.
Still another group used a diorama to show what Ellicott City's Main Street looked like in its early days. There were trees in the background, said 15-year-old mentor Andrew Rabinowitz, because "it didn't have all the shops it does today."
Classes brought together
Yesterday's show was the culmination of work that began in early October, when their third-grade teacher, Lisa Larson, and Glenelg Country School teacher David Weeks decided to bring their classes together.
"I wanted [my] students to work on their communications skills and help other students," said Weeks, who teaches at the private school's Service Learning Center. "The project gave the third-graders a chance to focus on one person, place or thing."
Said Larson: "Howard County history is part of the lesson plan. This way the children learn how to research, how to be responsible, how to be a good friend."
The mentors were assigned three to five children to work with and visited every 10 days to help develop the project, from picking a topic, to research to presentation.
The private school students taught the third-graders about research topics, presentation methods and speaking skills, but they ended up getting a few lessons of their own.
"The intelligence of the third-graders was really surprising," said Tae Strain, 15, whose group used a poster to tell the history of the Howard County Fair. "They taught me a lot about the fair."
'They taught me a lot'
Said Paul Turner, 15: "It reminds me a little of my childhood."
The third-graders said they liked learning from the mentors, saying it was a break from the norm.
"You are working with a teen-ager," said Fallon McCormick, 8, who played a conductor in the B&O; Railroad skit. "It's like working with a big brother or sister. It's just a little easier."
Carson, reached by telephone yesterday, said he was pleased to be part of the show and hopes the children can see what he believes is the real lesson from his life.
"I want them to recognize that anyone with a normal amount of intelligence can go on to be what they want," he said. "For me, the most important thing you do is outside the operating room."
Pub Date: 1/29/99