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From a historic ruin, music on a sun-drenched afternoon


MUSIC FILLED the air at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park on a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon. Duets and soloists, trios and a chorus - all children from Owen Brown Middle School - could be heard in the open space and the nooks and crannies of the stabilized historic ruin that was once a 19th-century school for young ladies.

The Owen Brown Middle School music department teamed up with Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute, a nonprofit organization that manages programs at the Ellicott City site, to present the first "Music in the Ruins May Day Celebration" on May 4.

Children from the school's Tri-M Honor Society, an organization for music students, worked for weeks preparing musical pieces and activities for the community, band director Belinda King said. In addition to music, the children created a traditional maypole for dancing, a face-painting area, a storybook corner and a paper-frame decorating table.

"It's a wonderful chance for the kids to play in a beautiful, unique setting," said PTA President Bob Grandfield. "And it's a nice way to raise awareness about the site."

The former school's structure features four soaring Doric columns. Elevated walkways lead through the 8,000-square-foot ruin of the building that was used to educate girls in a time when it was uncommon for young women to leave home and pursue an education, Friends board member Nanette Hunter said.

The idea for the celebration arose when King was looking for something different for the kids to do with their music. She turned to Hunter, whose daughter, Lindsey, 12, is a seventh-grader in the chorus.

"When Nanette suggested the idea of the kids performing at the institute, it seemed like such a nice fit," said Jacquelyn Galke, executive director of Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute. "We've never really done anything like it before."

The event was a success. The school's band and chorus performed in locations around the park for two hours.

"It's a really pretty place with lots of history," said eighth-grader Heather Bellamy, who plays flute in the band. "I like seeing all the acts, [hearing] some solos and hearing everyone else play." At the end of the program, the band joined together for a performance on the upper level of the open-air structure.

"It's nice to see this is still here," said sixth-grader Casey Holgado, who came to hear his brother, Ryan, who is an eighth-grade flute player in the band. "It's interesting to see how things used to be before technology."

The Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park is at 3691 Sarahs Lane, Ellicott City.

Information on programs and activities: 410-465-8500.


Congratulations go to seven Jeffers Hill Elementary School staff members who were awarded certificates of recognition by the Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee of the Howard County public schools.

Recognized by the committee April 22 were Tracy Guerin and Linda Ricks, special education teachers; Jodi Cobb, school psychologist; Teresa Costley, special education instructional assistant; Anne Parise, a fourth-grade teacher who was recognized for classroom modifications made to fit special education children's needs; Trinidad Santana, a one-on-one student assistant; and speech teacher Amy Yost.

"We are delighted to have so many members of our special education team recognized for their hard work," Principal Stephen Zagami said. "We have a very strong team that works wonderfully with staff, students and parents."

Charitable flag

Oakland Mills Middle School pupils raised $700 for URTA - Urban Rural Transportation Alliance, an east Columbia private nonprofit that provides transportation for the elderly and disabled.

About 30 children helped raise the money in a project called UNITED -"Understanding the Needs of all Individuals, Teaching and Educating Children with Disabilities." The kids sold strips of construction paper and their teachers sold stars. The purchasers' names were placed on their strips of paper or stars. In the end, the stars and stripes were combined to make an American flag, which is on display in the school lobby.

Academic life-skills teachers Suzette Stevenson and Angela Veguilla and home economics teacher Monica Stevens coordinated the project. The academic life-skills teachers work with children who have physical or mental disabilities.

"We want people to be tolerant of everyone," Veguilla said. "The children worked really hard. It was wonderful to see them give of themselves to help someone else without complaining."

On Saturday, the children will visit URTA, where they will learn more about the organization and wash the vehicles, if there is no water restriction.

Enrichment fair

Stevens Forest Elementary School will hold its schoolwide Enrichment Fair from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Children's work from all grade levels will be on display throughout the school. The fifth-grade chorus, the Choir Chimers (a group of children playing the chimes) and the Tumbleweeds, the school's tumbling group, will provide entertainment. Art teacher Nancy Charamella will demonstrate weaving techniques.

The school is at 6045 Stevens Forest Road.

Information: 410-313-6900.

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