RUSH-HOUR commuters have few things to enliven the journey: the occasional cute bumper sticker, a bit of wit on the radio, the beat of an old song.
So it's always a pleasant surprise to see great new signs and entertaining notes during that mad morning dash. The harried parents who drop off children at Bollman Bridge Elementary have one such delightful opportunity every week.
There's always an interesting comment along with the announcements on the sign board outside the school.
Kim Casem, mother of two, is in charge of the sign. "I coveted this PTA job for a year," she said.
And, when a vacancy occurred, she volunteered.
Casem is having a wonderful time, though she acknowledges being a bit busy. The single parent -- who home-schools her 7-year-old son, Lucas, and has a 5-year-old daughter, Catherine, enrolled at Bollman Bridge -- strings together four part-time jobs to make a living.
She runs after-school day care and tutors in the evenings. She is a substitute teacher. On weekends, she's a waitress.
Casem knows she could not do all this without the help of family and friends.
"I don't do the things that many people think I should be doing. I do a lot of things with my kids. I'm living a very happy life," she said.
The sign board in front of the school holds a special place in her life. She enjoys finding new, pithy sayings for that board.
"Brevity is a virtue -- I don't look at long-winded ones," she said of the quote hunt. "I find quotes, I consult people. It's funny that it's such an important job for me.
"At first, I would run everything by the principal. Now I just do it."
Readers have enjoyed her quirky outlook on life with messages such as "Dec. 1999 -- No Regrets" and "Joy is the simplest form of gratitude" for Thanksgiving.
She quotes the 7-year-old she watches after school: "The Millennium: It's practically a once in a lifetime experience." She quotes Albert Einstein: "The hardest thing to understand is the income tax."
She even quoted Adolph Hitler on Election Day (the school is used as a polling place): "What luck for rulers that men do not think."
Casem enjoys substitute teaching and hopes to continue with it next year. With her daughter old enough to attend school full time, she plans to re-enroll her son in school, leaving her with a more conventional schedule.
Until then, she will keep looking for brief topical quotes to enchant commuters.
Come for an evening of fabulous music, and cheer on local singers Shirley Bockstahler-Brandt and Donald Butler when the Columbia Pro Cantare presents "A Choral Carnival of Animals" on May 6 at Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia.
This animal-themed concert promises all sorts of delights, from the verses of Ogden Nash to two world premiere performances by local composers. Composer Tom Benjamin will give a free preconcert lecture on his writing.
Tickets are $15; $13 for students and senior citizens.
Congratulations to Danielle Stein of North Laurel, who is a senior at Syracuse University. She won a scholarship for her final year.
Congrats also to go to Nicole Sugar of North Laurel, who has been named to the dean's list at Frostburg State University with a 4.0 grade-point average.
Mayfest yard sale
After a long winter indoors, it's time to throw out all that unwanted stuff.
Sign up for the Laurel Woods Elementary Mayfest yard sale. A fee of $10 buys two spaces and the attention of hundreds of bargain-hunting families.
Are there unloved toys, outgrown sports equipment and unattended books cluttering the house? Give these items a new lease on life, benefit the PTA and make money.
Information: Audrey Miller, 410-465-6158.
Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks will offer spring classes, including a seminar on herbal creams and balms May 13, ballroom dancing Wednesday nights, basic drawing Monday nights and sushi-making Tuesday nights.
Many more classes are available, and the department runs a series of children's, teen, senior and therapeutic programs.