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Papier-mache binds seniors to grade school pupils


Since January, pupils from Swansfield Elementary School have been creating life-size papier-mache sculptures of children from other cultures. Last week, their work made its debut at Florence Bain Senior Center.

Swansfield Elementary School Principal Earl Slacumsaid the sculptures reflect the different cultures in the community. "We're very proud of our cultural diversity at Swansfield," he said.

In the fall, Swansfield PTA President Abby Futtermet with Judi Bard, program specialist with the Howard County Office on Aging, to discuss opportunities for students and seniors to interact.

"A lot of the seniors don't have family in the area. Just being in the presence of the children makes them feel young again," Bard said.

"When we heard the students were doing this project, we decided it would be really great to host the opening of this exhibit," she said.

Earl Woods, 62, teaches woodworking classes at the senior center. He built the stands that support the sculptures. Earl's son, Sean Woods, 28, attended Swansfield.

The pupils assembled two sculptures for every grade at the school, one boy and one girl. The sculptures will be placed in the hallways, holding signs welcoming visitors.

Isabel Enerson, 9, enjoyed working on the project. "What was really fun was wrapping the newspaper stuff around the chicken wire and getting our hands gooey," she said. But ShakyraBanks, 10, said, "It was kind of cold putting your hands in the paste."

The seniors who attended the unveiling were impressed with the pupils' work.

"I think it's a marvelous idea," said Olive McAllister, who declined to give her age, describing herself as "ageless."

"It opens up all new horizons for the children. It teaches them that there's something going on outside their own neighborhood. There are other people, other cultures and other ideas. And the students are delightful to talk to," she said.

Sylvia Fisher, who dabbles in sketches, paintings, stained glass and jewelry design, called the children's sculptures "absolutely mind-boggling." Fisher said that programs that bring seniors and children together are important.

"Children have to learn from adults," she said. "They can learn so much and put it into practice."

Slacum was pleased with the interaction between the seniors and his students.

"This is all part of our community outreach, to come over and share this with our wonderful senior citizens. They also share with us by coming to read with the children," he said. "This helps to bridge the generation gap."

Wishes for Westport

This year, the PTA at Clarksville Middle School began a partnership with pupils from Westport Elementary School in Baltimore. In a program they called "Wishes for Westport," students from Clarksville Middle School and their families adopted the Baltimore school, donating school supplies, winter coats and 1,500 books.

Last week, children from both schools finally got a chance to meet. Last Wednesday, Principal Ernestine Lewis, two seventh-grade teachers and 43 pupils from Westport Elementary came to Clarksville Middle School to participate in a day of educational activities and meet their pen pals of the last year.

"I think their visit made the partnership come to life," said Annette Kuperman, a seventh-grade teacher at Clarksville. "What was really touching to me was to see kids from such disparate communities come together."

Kuperman said that the two schools expect to continue their partnership next year.

Death and bereavement

Howard County psychologist J. ShepJeffreys was one of the featured speakers at the second annual Irvin B. Levinson Memorial Lecture Series on Death, Dying and Bereavementlast week in Pikesville.

Jeffreys, a resident of Wilde Lake, worked with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Rossfor 12 years as a trainer and grief/loss workshop leader in the United States and abroad.

Jeffreys is president and founder of the Steven Daniel Jeffreys Foundation, named for his son who died from cancer in 1975 at age 8. The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving people in grief over life's losses.

"My work is a direct result of his death," Jeffreys said. "The foundation was established as a memorial to him."

Jeffreys runs a bereavement counseling program for children, adolescents and their parents called "Tears and Smiles."

Information: 410-730-3310.

Relay For Life

The American Cancer Society will hold its annual Relay For Life Friday and Saturday at Howard Community College.

During this fund-raising event, teams of 10-15 people will take turns walking or jogging around the track.

A "Cancer Survivors' Lap" will take place following the opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Friday. A luminariaceremony, where candles are lit in honor or in memory of someone who has been stricken with cancer, is planned for dusk.

Information: 1-800-787-4337.

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