Middle-school musicians team up with Centennial marching band


FOUR eighth-graders stood on a hill overlooking the Centennial High School football field Tuesday, watching band practice. Next year, the Dunloggin Middle School pupils could be marching in the band.

But Tuesday, they were waiting to practice with kids who were already in high school.

The four boys were among 33 middle-schoolers who had accepted an invitation from Centennial band director Max VanDerBeek to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" with the Centennial band at Saturday's football game.

The day, aptly called "Band Day," will feature a pumped-up halftime show.

And this was a practice.

The high school band played scales, keeping time to the booming of drums. Then VanDerBeek, megaphone in hand, ordered the students to march.

They marched across the soggy football field, toward the hillside where the four Dunloggin eighth-graders stood. VanDerBeek climbed the hill and called instructions to band members as they practiced their show.

"Horns, practice carrying your instruments up at an angle. We want the angle of all the horns to be the same," he called. "Remember to step with the left foot on beat 'one.' The beat has to be in your feet!"

The four 13-year-old boys watched and talked quietly. Mike Burgtorf, who plays trumpet, said he thought it was "pretty cool" to play with the high school band. "Definitely a new experience," he said.

His brother George, a senior at Centennial High, plays saxophone in the band. Both play in the Ravens Marching Band in Baltimore.

Their parents, George and Gail Burgtorf, serve as "band parents," meaning that "they come and help the band," Mike said. His grandfather was a family doctor in Ellicott City.

Jason DeCosta thought it would be "pretty cool to march." He is used to "sitting down and resting my instrument on my knee," he says. When he marches, he will carry his baritone horn with support from a clip hung around his neck.

"The music is much smaller," said Curran Muhlberger, explaining that at Dunloggin, where they play indoors on a stage, their 8 1/2-by-11-inch sheet music rests on music stands. At the football game, they will have to read their music from flip-books attached to the instrument. It will take some getting used to, he said.

Gary, also a baritone horn-player, declined to give his last name or comment.

"Don't be so shy," his friends urged. He smiled, and turned away.

VanDerBeek, who is in his second year at Centennial High, chose Saturday, out of the school's five home games, as Band Day to give the band time to become polished.

He couldn't wait much longer. "Later in the season, it will be quite cold," he said.

The 33 middle-schoolers come from schools that feed into Centennial High -- Dunloggin, Burleigh Manor and Ellicott Mills middle schools.

VanDerBeek and middle school band teachers Jeff Brody (Burleigh Manor), Diana Uttenreither (Dunloggin) and Joanna Caldwell (Ellicott Mills) are working together to integrate the music curriculum from kindergarten to 12th grade, VanDerBeek says.

Go, readers!

When the Elkridge Library started its "Go Girl!" reading club last year, Stefan Freed -- a 1984 graduate of Mount Hebron High School who has worked at the library since he was a teen-ager -- wondered why the club was only for mothers and daughters.

Children's librarian Sharon Unger explained to him that mother-daughter clubs are very popular. She persuaded him to start a co-ed book club.

Now, with Unger's help, Freed is offering "Elks: Parent-Child Book Club," designed for parents with children ages 9-12.

When he was young, Freed read, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume, which describes the inner life of a girl approaching puberty.

He was grateful to learn what girls his age might be feeling, Freed says, and was surprised that girls he knew were appalled he had read the book.

He would not recommend such a potentially divisive book for the book club, he says, but will choose equally well-written books with both male and female protagonists. "The Music of Dolphins" by Karen Hesse will be the first book the club will discuss.

The book club will meet once a month at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, usually on the third Tuesday of the month, beginning Oct. 19.

Participants should bring a favorite book to the first meeting. Registration is required.

Information: 410-313-5085.

Elkridge hoedown

The Elkridge Elementary School PTA presented a "Hoe Down" on Oct. 1.

Games with a farm theme included the needle-in-the-haystack and apple-on-a-string contests. The most anticipated event, however, was the announcement of the winner of the "smooch the sow" contest.

More than 200 children and staff members contributed a total of $682.33 to "vote" for a staff member who would kiss a pig. The sow -- on loan from Cider Mill Farm in Elkridge -- made its appearance at 8: 30 p.m.

The five staff members who had received the most votes came forward and each put on a pair of wax lips. Emcee Paul Lavin, in grand Miss America style, announced the fourth, third, second and first runners-ups: teachers Nancy Thompson, Alisa Wasilewski, Lisa Carswell and Amy Colman.

Each runner-up was presented with a rose.

Principal Diane Mumford was named grand-prize winner. For this honor, Mumford puckered up her wax lips to kiss the pig.

The students squealed with delight.

Lavin encouraged the excited children to cheer if they wanted Mumford to kiss the pig without the wax lips. After considerable encouragement, she removed the lips and gracefully smooched the sow.

Good sport, Principal Mumford!

Elkridge wins Challenge

Elkridge Landing Middle School won the School Challenge Award at the BWI Airport 5K Run/Walk held Sept. 26.

The school, which registered more than 180 participants, will receive tickets to take a field trip on the MARC train to Union Station in Washington, D.C.

Bridgette Baker, 15, a junior at Howard High School, and Johnna Esposito, 11, a sixth-grader at Elkridge Landing, placed first and second, respectively, in their age brackets.

The event benefits the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Down Syndrome Clinic and local Down syndrome parent support groups.

Angling for a trophy

A few young anglers earned trophies at the Night Crawlers Fishing Tournament, held at Centennial Park on the evening of Sept. 25.

Dominick Morris, Brett Harrison, Maddie Matotek, Killian McKelvey, Thea Speichen, Rob Towne and Nick Piston logged the top 10 catches. Harrison, McKelvey and Matotek each caught two of the night's biggest fish.

Scouts take camping trip

The Webelos Cub Scouts from Pack 323 of Ellicott City recently went on a weekend camping trip to Boonsboro.

They completed Echo Lake's "Ropes and Initiatives" course.

The group included Davin Banks, Tim Barranco, Jon DeWeese, Shawn Engle, Zach Essner, Nathan Lee, Alex Reed, Jason Smith, Chris Trainer, Kevin Westervelt, and den leader Jeannine Reed.

Call 410-338-1700 for information about joining Cub Scouts.

Pub Date: 10/11/99

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