THE NEXT COLD morning your young child hollers, "I can't find my favorite red sweater ANYWHERE!" encourage her or him to sift through the school's lost and found.
It may take a while. Most of the elementary schools in the central part of the county have two to six bulging boxes of unclaimed items (approximately 350 items with an appraised value equal to the cost of a weekend in New York, including train fare).
"I remember when my child was smaller I'd hear, 'I guess someone took it,' every time something was missing," said Dottie Waddell, secretary at Robert Moton Elementary School. "Now I know better."
Like most of the elementary school secretaries in the county, Waddell is the keeper of all lost items, and the one who has to think of creative ways to ensure that they are found.
Secretaries have placed boxes in the lobby, set items on the stage during lunch hour, displayed them like a yard sale on parent-teacher conference days and even draped them over a clothesline for attention. Yet most of the items are ultimately sent to the local rescue mission or Goodwill store.
Starter jackets, hats, gloves, mittens, tennis shoes, lunch boxes, headbands, sweat shirts and scarves, most in mint condition, get hauled out once or twice a year.
"Twice a year we take boxes to Human Services -- once in the middle of the year and once before summer vacation," said Georgia Cox, a secretary at Friendship Valley Elementary. "We've already made one trip, and we have boxes filled with L. L. Bean coats and beautiful clothes."
"I can't imagine not claiming some of these expensive items," said Jeanne Fink, from Sandymount Elementary. "We get about a dozen items a day."
The remedy? Parents need to label "every removable item," secretaries implore.
"Anything that has a label makes it back to the appropriate child -- with pleasure," said Fran Grimes, secretary at Westminster Elementary. "Among the unclaimed items, we have a lone tennis shoe and a pair of eyeglasses. You'd think that the owners would miss that kind of stuff."
If that favorite red sweater is still missing, or for the longest time you figured that the match to your child's tennis shoe was swallowed by the Shop-Vac, give your elementary school a call.
The Eisteddfod is a select choir that has been in existence for more than 70 years in Carroll County. It began as a singing competition, but now it is a select chorus of representatives from each of the elementary and middle schools.
"It is always difficult to choose the best from so many good musicians," and this year is no exception, Joann Benson, the music teacher at Charles Carroll Elementary School, recently told parents in a letter. "We had many fifth graders who were worthy of being chosen, but we can only send six students to the concert on April 16."
Benson auditioned the entire fifth grade -- 72 pupils -- narrowed the field to 30, then to 18, and finally picked the top six singers.
Pupils who will represent Charles Carroll Elementary School at the 1999 Eisteddfod are Abigail Hester, Roxanne Fleischer, Matthew Hernandez, Brett Wiggins, Lauren Lee and Bethaney Myers.
Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of he Sun.
Pub Date: 2/08/99