Language class' bistro creates taste for French cuisine


JEN KAPLAN'S eighth-grade French classes at Patuxent Valley Middle School have spent the past two weeks preparing for this week's brief opening of the Millennium Cafe, Kaplan's salute to French culture.

As she has for the past three years -- and before that in the Baltimore schools where she taught -- Kaplan has had her students run a bistro for faculty and family.

It's a complex undertaking for the second-year French scholars. First, they have to learn food and restaurant vocabulary. Then it's on to making invitations for family members and faculty, drawing and writing the menus, making posters and preparing the food.

Eileen Reid, a home economics teacher, is an enthusiastic supporter of the event.

Kaplan said the cafe would not be possible without her cooperation: Reid switches classrooms with Kaplan on cafe days so French pupils will have access to stoves all day. She also stays in the home economics room while the cafe is "open" to ensure that health and safety rules are followed.

Wednesday and yesterday were show time. The home economics classroom had been transformed into a Parisian bistro with beige table cloths, red roses in Perrier bottles and the sounds of French ballads in the background.

A comprehensive menu on chalkboards listed quiche Lorraine, spinach quiche, dessert crepes and chocolate mousse.

Family and staff members were served by 37 pupils dressed in black and white. Not one Parisian wore jeans.

Each guest was escorted to a festive table by a French-speaking server.

A few unexpected challenges arose: The strawberries thawed very slowly, feet became sore from standing and three new stoves were delivered to the room during cafe hours.

But the pupils handled these minor crises with aplomb.

A big thank you goes to all who participated, to Kaplan and Reid and to the understanding teachers who excused pupils from classes to serve in the cafe.

Kudos to Lauren Shea, Michael Davis and Andrew Hinman, the pupils who stayed after school to help prepare the feast.

Contest winners

Two Bollman Bridge Elementary pupils have won awards on the statewide level of the PTA Reflections Contest.

The creative arts contest asks participants to create a work of visual art, musical composition, literature or photography based on a theme.

This year's theme was "Anything Is Possible."

Fourth-grader Brittany Diehl won an award of excellence for visual arts; third-grader Jennifer Aranyi won an award of merit for music composition.

Kick boxing

A new series of classes is being offered in Savage. Bethel Christian Academy Director Lisa Frost and mom Rachel Higbie started kick-boxing classes at the school in June.

"We teach four classes a week -- it's cardio kick boxing," Higbie said.

"We're trying to get people out who haven't exercised in quite a while. We're nonintimidating. We focus on beginners."

The pair offer classes four days a week, at 6 p.m. Mondays, 6: 30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 3: 30 p.m. Wednesdays -- a popular time for teachers. Higbie said she sees some of her son's teachers at the classes.

The cost is $5 a session with discounts for multiple classes.

"We're not looking to make a million dollars," Higbie said.

Information: 301-317-8354.

Community festival

We're only two months away from Savage's annual community festival and block party, Savage Fest.

As usual, the planners are seeking good ideas, volunteers, things to give away and vendors.

Newcomers looking for a way to meet Savage's finest folk, students looking to fill in community service hours required for graduation and idle hands looking for enjoyable work should contact Myra Phelps at 301-498-9133 about volunteering.

Crafters and vendors: Ellen Waff, 410-725-1089.

Door prize and raffle donations: Bill Waff, 301-725-1089.

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