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Student-run cafe sports a new atmosphere


IT LOOKS like a modified version of the coffee shop set from the television series "Friends." The renovated Wilde Times Cafe opened Aug. 29. But the new look for the student-run business isn't the only change in the popular teen hangout.

To make the cafe more appealing to all Howard County high school students, the staff changed the interior color scheme from green and gold - Wilde Lake High School's colors - to soothing shades of blue.

The space includes couches, end tables, dining booths and barstools. The stools were purchased from the Pub at Wilde Lake after it closed this summer.

"One of this year's goals was to create an atmosphere that was relaxing, a little bit more sophisticated and not tied to any one particular school," said Rena Bezilla, an education specialist at Wilde Lake High School.

Bezilla and teacher Cindy Drummond came up with the idea for the cafe in 1998. Students apply for a position on the cafe's executive board by filling out an application and interviewing with Bezilla and Drummond.

The executive board is responsible for decisions concerning the cafe, including determining the hours of operation, menu offerings and work schedules. Students who work at the cafe earn community service credit instead of wages.

"We get advice from adults, but it's our decision on what to do to the place," said Kathleen Davis, a 17-year-old Wilde Lake senior and the cafe's general manager.

Davis said she got involved with the cafe because "I've always been interested in business and I thought this would be a great opportunity. It gives you real-life experience that you might not get in another school organization."

An advisory board lends support to the young entrepreneurs. Liz Buckley, former marketing director for Columbia Management, has agreed to act as the students' mentor and heads the advisory board. Buckley persuaded Columbia Management to offer the teens free space in Wilde Lake Village Center.

"She coerced just about everybody in the world to help us out," Bezilla said.

Another big change at the cafe includes the addition of two executive board members from River Hill High School: Jane Allen and Kristy Kaiser.

Other executive board members include Wilde Lake High School students Michelle Magnien, Kavita Krishnaswamy, Melanie Erb, Lauren Bennett, Rachel Shapiro and Davis.

Kaiser is charged with including special-needs students as cafM-i workers. For the initial effort, she will recruit students only from Wilde Lake High School, but she hopes to open the program to other schools in the future.

The menu has changed this year, too. Students can order muffins and brownies, supplied by Bun Penny Food and Wine, and ice cream, chips, sodas and coffee. The staff hopes to offer pizza this year.

For entertainment, teens have access to a jukebox, pool table and air hockey. On Fridays, the all-teen staff schedules live entertainment. This Friday, Base Element is the featured band.

"Business has been great," Davis said. "We've made a profit every day, and we've had great feedback."

Davis said 40 students participate in running the cafe, "but it's growing every day."

Wilde Times Cafe is open during the school year from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays. Information: 877-449-1600, ext. 277, or e-mail, wildetimescafe@ureach.com.

TRIAD conference

The Howard County TRIAD will present the Maryland TRIAD 2000 Conference on Sept. 20 at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville.

According to Mary Ellen Cooper, a resident of Harper's Choice and organizer of the conference, TRIAD addresses safety problems for seniors and their vulnerability to crime.

The Seniors and Law Enforcement Together Council is the working arm of TRIAD, a national initiative sponsored by AARP, the International Association of Police Chiefs and the National Sheriffs Association.

"We go to senior centers, senior residences and churches to try to educate seniors about consumer fraud and criminal victimization," Cooper said.

The Howard County S.A.L.T. Council also distributes emergency flashing lights for use in the home, known as 911 lights, the Vial of Life - which contains pertinent medical information - and smoke detectors free to senior citizens.

Phyllis Madachy of the Howard County Office on Aging will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

Other speakers will include Stuart Cohen, managing attorney, AARP Legal Foundation; Robert Garvey, sheriff of Hampshire County in Massachusetts; Dick Gelfman, WJZ-TV consumer advocate; and Steve Hannan, Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs.

Information: Deputy Sheriff Joe Collins, 410-313-4163, or Mary Ellen Cooper, 410-992-1679.

Back to school

Atholton High School Assistant Principal Steve Levy encourages parents to attend their children's back-to-school night.

"I think it's important for parents to know who their child's teachers are and what's involved in their coursework so they can prepare their kids for the rigors of school," he said.

"It's important for parents to show their kids that they care about schoolwork, and it shows students that their parents place importance on their child's education," he added.

West Columbia schools holding back-to-school nights are:

Bryant Woods Elementary, 6:45 p.m. today.

Clemens Crossing Elementary, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today (grades 3, 4 and 5) and from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow (grades K-2).

Longfellow Elementary, 7 p.m. Sept. 20 (grades K-2) and 7 p.m. Sept. 21 (grades 3, 4 and 5).

Pointers Run Elementary, tomorrow (K at 6:30 p.m., grade 3 at 7 p.m. and grade 1 at 7:30 p.m.) and Tuesday (6:30 p.m. for grade 4, 7 p.m. for grade 2 and 7:30 p.m. for grade 5).

Swansfield Elementary, 7 p.m. Sept. 20 (P-K through grade 2) and 7 p.m. Sept. 21 (grades 3, 4 and 5).

Clarksville Middle, 7 p.m. Monday (grade 6 only) and 7 p.m. Sept. 20 (grades 7 and 8).

Harper's Choice Middle, 7 p.m. Monday.

Wilde Lake Middle, 7 p.m. Monday.

Atholton High, 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Wilde Lake High, 7 p.m. today.

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