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Middle-schoolers leave their mark on landscape


THREE GIRLS from Glenwood Middle School turned a plot of grass run over by construction workers into a beautiful courtyard - all with donated materials.

Two years ago, Samantha Braun, 14, came to Gifted and Talented Program resource teacher Priscilla Geisler with an idea. She was interested in renovating a plot of grass at the side of the school into a courtyard. "The old courtyard was lost in the renovation of the media center," Geisler said. She told Samantha to research the idea and meet with her again.

Later, joined by Sonja Boras and Jennifer Cochran, both 14, the girls set out to leave their mark on Glenwood Middle.

"We decided it would be a lot of fun to leave something behind," Samantha said of the courtyard.

Jennifer liked the idea of helping other people, too. "I wanted to join so we could make it nicer for everyone else," she said.

After interviewing landscapers, the girls made their landscape plan. They then asked for donations of scrubs, trees and mulch from Metzlers, Designer Landscapes Inc., Maryland Ground Covers and other businesses.

They enlisted help from schoolchildren and teachers to plant the shrubs and trees, but the team remained in control. According to Geisler, the girls wanted to be consulted on every decision about the courtyard. "They were constantly talking to landscapers and nurseries," she said. "Then they were out there working with teachers and students to get everything planted. They supervised everything."

The result is a courtyard that can be enjoyed by teachers and students. A path goes through the 30-by-70-foot courtyard, which is divided by walkways into four planting islands. It is filled with more than 30 trees and bushes. The girls hope to add benches.

The courtyard development project was a Type Three Enrichment idea. Students go to Geisler to suggest a topic that they are interested in. "Everyone is gifted in something," Geisler said. She then gives them the tools to research the topics but is careful not to get involved in their creations. According to Geisler, the students must have real problems in their community or school that they want to explore, and they must come up with products.

Geisler won't make decisions for the students. She advises them to "remember your audience, remember your goal." She asks them, "How are you going to get there?"

Glenwood Middle children have worked on various projects. One group, interested in the West Nile virus, wrote a booklet on ways to prevent the disease. Another group set up a presentation that introduced Days End Horse Farm in Lisbon.

"Kids are so interested in these things," Geisler said. "They will do anything to get it going."

Youth leadership

Sophomores Michael Stromberg of River Hill High School and Bobby Pencek of Glenelg High School will attend the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) 2001 Maryland Leadership Seminar at the Johns Hopkins University next month. The boys were selected for outstanding leadership in their school and community.

"It's something I really wanted to do," Bobby said. "I'm really looking forward to it." Bobby is a member of It's Academic and the Investment Club at Glenelg.

As HOBY ambassadors, the boys will be part of a group of 185 other young leaders who will interact with leaders in business, government and education to discuss issues. Ambassadors also are challenged to complete 100 community service hours during the coming year.

"It's a big honor," Michael said. "I am looking forward to learning new skills." Michael is a member of SHOP (Students Helping Other People) and Future Business Leaders of America at River Hill.

HOBY was established by actor Hugh O'Brian, to encourage youth leadership. The seminar will take place June 7-10 in Baltimore.

Mount View band honors

Mount View Middle School's Symphonic Band received a first-place trophy in the middle school division at a competition in Hershey Park, Pa., on May 19. The band performed "Foxfire" by Ed Huckeby, "Court Festival" by William Latham and "Dramatic Essay" by Elliott Del Borgo.

The band also received the Judge's Choice trophy for overall best band performance among all competing middle and high schools. Music director Shelley Williams led the 160-member band to victory. The band will conclude its year with a performance at Cedar Lane School's graduation ceremony tonight.

Vacation Bible school

"Way to Go! Good Neighbor Tours" is the theme of the Glenelg United Methodist Church vacation Bible school, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon July 23 through 27 at 13900 Burntwoods Road.

Children ages 3 through 12 may attend. The cost is $10 for each child registered before July 1, or $15 for each child registered after July 1. Scholarships are available.

Information or to enroll: 410- 489-4018 or 410-715-9664, or e-mail

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