TWO WEEKS ago, 24 local African-American high school students flew to Washington University in St. Louis to get a taste of college life.
The three-day trip is an annual event sponsored by the Howard County Foundation for Black Educational and Cultural Achievement. Participants in this year's visit say the journey helped them make important decisions about attending college.
"First, I mostly wanted to stay in state, but after going on the trip I am considering looking at other schools out of the state," said Amy Foreman, a junior at Oakland Mills High School.
Amy says she wants to broaden her horizons.
Participants -- high school juniors with a grade point average of 3.3 or better -- must get two letters of recommendation to be eligible for the trip. The university pays expenses -- including airfare, housing and meals -- to encourage academically strong African-Americans to apply to the school.
Dwane Clarke, a 16-year-old Howard High School student who resides in Phelps Luck, had been courted by the university before he heard about the trip at one of his school's Black Student Achievement Program meetings. "I've been getting letters since sophomore year," he said.
Dwane, who plans to be a pediatrician, said he had been interested in applying to the university because of the strong reputation of its medical program. Participating in the trip solidified his decision. "I think it really helps to go to a campus before you attend the school," he said, "because you have to know what you're getting into."
Dwane's firsthand experience at the university helped him to appreciate the school's social environment in addition to its academic reputation, he said.
Amy said, "It was very interesting to actually be on a college campus and meet people who are in college and experiencing everything."
The Howard County Foundation for Black Educational and Cultural Achievement is a nonprofit organization founded in 1977. In addition to sponsoring the college trip, the foundation awards scholarships to high school seniors and has given out more than $250,000 in awards.
Information: William Lewis, the foundation president, 410-730-9362 or 301-596-4108.
Good Friday service
Columbia Cooperative Ministry will hold its 30th ecumenical Good Friday service, "The Seven Last Words of Christ," at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center from noon to 3 p.m. Friday.
The service will include 15-minute sermons by representatives from seven county churches.
"Each one of the denominations has a different way of looking at the Scripture, different insights," said George Martin, president of the Columbia Cooperative Ministry and a deacon at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Community.
"I want people to not only get along, but also understand one another," he said. "It's more than just tolerating. When we understand one another, we're more able to accept one another for who we are."
Friday's program will open with a dramatic reading by the Rev. Beth O'Malley, pastor of the Columbia United Christian Church in Oakland Mills Interfaith Center; the Rev. Betty Ure, the church's associate pastor; and members of the church congregation.
The seven sermons will be delivered by the Rev. Donald Smedley, pastor of Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal in Columbia; the Rev. Thomas Connar, pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Highland; the Rev. Sadie Woolford, associate minister at St. John the Evangelist Baptist Church on Old Annapolis Road; the Rev. Nathan Tae Hahn, pastor of Gyung Hyang Garden Presbyterian Church on Old Annapolis Road; Frank Maciorowski, a member of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Community, which has parishes in the Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills interfaith centers; the Rev. Victoria Weinstein, minister at Channing Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist in Clarksville; and the Rev. Walter Rodriquez, pastor of Primera Iglesia Del Nazareno Hispana (First Church of the Nazarene) in Ellicott City.
Columbia Cooperative Ministry will sponsor an Easter Sunrise Service at 6: 30 a.m. Sunday at Lake Kittamaqundi.
Information: 410-730- 7862.