THE OPENING of the new Lime Kiln Middle School in Fulton on Monday was a tremendous success. PTA President Debra Blomme reports that everything went off without a hitch.
Blomme and parents Steve and Terry Ullman sneaked into the property the night before and painted giant leopard paw prints with industrial-grade paint -- the kind used for highway marking -- on the middle school driveway, leading all the way up to the front door. The leopard is the school's mascot.
Blomme and parent Karen Ely began the job at 6 a.m. a few days earlier.
"We started at 9 a.m. and were there until about 11: 30 p.m.," said Blomme, who took her family along Sunday night. "It was a great evening."
While she was busy painting, her family made the most of their time; they tried out their in-line skates and played roller hockey on the new blacktop in the parking lot.
Other surprises welcomed the delighted pupils who arrived Monday. Unknown even to her children, Terry Ullman dressed up as the leopard mascot in a rented costume and greeted them as they came to their first day at school. Luckily, Blomme said, the weather wasn't too hot, so Ullman did not faint in her fur.
Plans called for the pupils to parade into the school from nearby Fulton Elementary, accompanied by dignitaries.
Parents Scott Trenner and his wife, Robin, lent their Mercedes convertible to transport County Executive James N. Robey and school board member Jane B. Schuchardt on the short trip to the school.
Next in the parade was a restored Cadillac Eldorado convertible owned by teacher Debbie Lange, carrying Principal Stephen Gibson and Assistant Principal Kathryn McKinley -- and the leopard, who sat between them.
After everyone was settled outside the new building, it was time to cut the ribbon. The honor fell to members of the new school community. Using a pair of 3-foot-long scissors provided by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, three pupils and a teacher cut the green, black and gold ribbons -- one for each of the school colors -- that were tied between two medieval-style tents.
And taking a lead from the school's initials -- LKMS -- the ribbons were cut by a sixth-grader whose last name begins with L, a seventh-grader whose name begins with K, an eighth-grader whose name begins with M and a staff member whose name begins with S.
Then off to the gym for speeches by Robey, Schuchardt and others -- and a pep rally to welcome everyone to a bright new year.
And thank you
Blomme would like to recognize the support of parents, community members and the Fulton Elementary School staff.
Parent Keith Wilson helped to set up the tents and parking cones with physical education teacher Norman Belden. They also helped direct traffic.
Parent Jan Sxhub brought balloons and a tank of helium.
Brian Vanisko, a Fulton Elementary physical education teacher, lent the new school his portable public address system so no one would have to shout.
The year begins
For students and their parents, the new year begins in September. The ebb and flow of our lives for the two decades that we're in school revolve around the academic calendar. For the almost two decades that most of us have children at home, the same is true.
New clothes, teachers and schedules all arrive in early fall. How could the new year start Jan. 1 when for years we regulate our lives by the seasons of formal learning?
Our area schools are bustling with activities.
Patuxent Valley Middle School's PTA is gearing up for its new fund-raising campaign. Pupils will sell magazine subscriptions, and they can earn prizes based on their sales. The homeroom class selling the most subscriptions wins an ice cream party. More than one-third of the proceeds will go to the PTA.
Be generous when pupils ask you to purchase a subscription.
In other news from Patuxent Middle, the school sends kudos to Judy Cephas, coordinator of the gifted and talented program, for lending her time to serve as as a Web site guru. She is the person responsible for keeping the school's Web site current.
Cephas is looking into e-mailing the school newsletter, and she could use a little help. She's looking for a few good techno-junkies to help her maintain the Web site and give competent advice.
To volunteer: 410-880-5840.
Visitors and volunteers are welcome at the school, but they must check in at the office because the staff takes security seriously. The Vollmerhausen Road entrance to the school is the only one used during the day. It has an accessible parking lot for visitors.