Lime Kiln Middle School pupils Lindsay Sperling and Cheria Blomme have accomplished something lasting and memorable. After two years of work by the girls, local history has been brought to life in a 15-by-7-foot replica of the school's namesake - a lime kiln - constructed at the school.
Their patience and perseverance paid off at the dedication last week of the stone replica attended by nearly 100 parents, pupils and school officials. The girls spoke about their efforts and thanked their supporters. A ribbon-cutting and band rendition of "Lime Kiln Fanfare," composed for the occasion by band director Andrew Spang, followed.
Lime kilns were used in the 1800s by farmers in the Fulton area to fire limestone, oyster shells and bones of slaughtered animals into lime, which was then used to treat the soil. Lime kilns were a major contributor to the success of farming in the area during that time.
Two authentic kilns exist in the Fulton area today on private property. A photograph of the one on which the replica is based hangs in the school lobby.
"Their impact on students and the community is now a mark for many, many students to come. This will be a lasting part of this school community ... ," said Gifted and Talented Program teacher Stacey Kopnitsky last week.
But Lindsay, 12, and Cheria, 14, had a matter-of-fact attitude when discussing their two years of research, planning, fund-raising, construction bids, presentations and delays. They also appear not to realize what they have achieved, but are glad their work is done.
"We finally reached our goal," said Cheria at the dedication. She acknowledged being occasionally discouraged about working so hard, with nothing tangible to see, and felt at times it wouldn't happen.
Lindsay said she is gratified that they spent two years on a project that will be here for future children to see.
During the school's inaugural year of 1999-2000, a group of pupils began an archival study - intent on documenting the construction and opening of their school.
Cheria and Lindsay had an interest in its name and partnered to learn more. "We had no idea what it was," Cheria said.
Kopnitsky joked that people thought the school was named after the fruit or lemon-lime soda.
The girls' interest became a Type III investigation, an opportunity for gifted and talented pupils to work on an authentic problem or issue and communicate something of value and interest to the community.
The girls wanted to make a lasting impression that would inform future generations about lime kilns and decided to have a replica built. But they needed funding.
They created a Power Point presentation, with the proposed location and bid, and took it to the Baltimore offices of Greenebaum and Rose Inc., the developers of the proposed Maple Lawn Farms project in Fulton.
Then the two had the daunting task of making an oral and visual presentation to chief executive Stewart Greenebaum and his associates. According to Lindsay, doing the presentation was great because their audience members were the people who would be in charge of funding the replica.
The presentation was a success, and they received funds from Greenebaum and Rose. Genco Masonry Construction of Bethesda donated labor, supplies and material. Construction was completed last month.
"You should be proud to capture and communicate a part of Howard County history," Kopnitsky told the girls.