SWANSFIELD Elementary School's PTA president, Abby Futter, is a woman with a mission. She's organizing the school community to spread the word: Swansfield may be an older school, but it's a great school and a great community, she says.
Futter says Swansfield's reputation and the reputation of the school conflict with reality.
"It's been driving me nuts for years," she says. "I think that people feel that just because it's not an affluent area, that it's not a good school. I don't believe that's true. My feeling is that anywhere you go there are problems. Rather than complain about it, do something about it."
So the PTA at Swansfield plans to support educational programs, celebrate the school's cultural diversity, create after-school activities for pupils and -- it hopes -- change perceptions of its community.
The PTA is starting off the year with a multicultural art project to be unveiled in the spring.
Pupils from each grade are creating life-sized papier-mache children to reflect the diversity of their community.
Papier-mache sculptures stand outside each pod holding welcome signs that identify the pod.
Volunteers from Florence Bain Senior Center are helping with the project by building wooden bases for the sculptures.
The Commercial & Farmers Bank in the Hickory Ridge Village Center, a business partner of the school, will send volunteers to work with students on the art project.
The PTA also is working on improving classes. Swansfield PTA volunteer coordinators Michelle Madison and Patti Walsh are organizing volunteers to assist teachers in every classroom.
The children will have an opportunity to be teachers: fifth-grade teacher Anita Gallitano will work with fourth- and fifth-graders to offer computer-instruction classes for senior citizens from the Bain center.
Swansfield resident Gene Berg and Johns Hopkins University teaching intern Colleen McAleave are starting an after-school math club for third- to fifth-graders.
Angela Harting, an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instructional assistant at Swansfield, will teach Spanish classes after school under the auspices of the PTA.
Swansfield is planning a fall festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 16. Games, food, a fire truck, Moon Bounce, tattoos, face-painting and a welcome center are planned.
The PTA will take orders for its cookbook, "The Many Flavors of Swansfield," to be distributed in November.
Futter plans to hold an open house for real estate agents this year.
"I found that a lot of the Realtors haven't really encouraged people to buy in our area," she says. "I want them to see how wonderful the school is, and then they can judge for themselves, instead of judging by the reputation, and form their own opinions."
Swansfield Elementary music teacher Peggy Greenman reports that last week her pupils had a visitor from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation in Montana.
The Rev. Joe Bailey, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church on the reservation, shared Native American folk tales with the children and showed them jewelry made from porcupine quills.
Peggy and her son Grant, 20, visited the Chippewa Cree reservation this summer.
During Bailey's visit, pupils played ceremonial drums and learned how to say a few phrases in the Cree language.
A painting of tepees at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, painted by an artist resident on the reservation named Piepot, was donated to the school.
Swansfield pupils will raise money to help build a group home for reservation children who otherwise would be placed in foster homes.
The youngsters are buying felt cases for their recorders from Greenman, decorating the cases with fabric paint and sewing on drawstrings. The money they pay for the cases will go to the group home.
Greenman hopes the project will raise about $200.
Town Center birthday
Columbia's Town Center will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday with activities at Town Center Park, Vantage Point Road and Lake Kittamaqundi.
The celebration will begin with a fishing contest from 9 a.m. to noon at the lake.
A Volksmarch starts at the park at 10: 15 a.m.
A birthday party, at 1 p.m. at the park, will include performances by the Golden Girls dancers, Port of Call barbershop quartet and Footnotes -- a clogging group.
A Smooth Jazz Concert at 7: 30 p.m. at the lakefront will wind down the celebration.
Wilde Lake homecoming
Wilde Lake High School will battle River Hill High in its homecoming football game at 1: 30 p.m. Saturday.
Jack Schreck, vice president of the Wilde Lake Boosters Club, urges everyone will turn out for the school's second tailgate party at 11 a.m.
The boosters will sell barbecued chicken, spareribs, hot dogs, hamburgers and cotton candy.
Wilde Lake spirit wear -- including T-shirts and hats -- will be for sale.
Wilde Lake bingo
The Wilde Lake Community Association will hold its Wilde Bingo Night at 7 p.m. Friday at Slayton House in Wilde Lake Village Center.
Everyone is invited for night of fun, refreshments and prizes.
Game cards will cost 25 cents each or five for $1.
Pub Date: 9/22/99