SEVERN Elementary School recently celebrated an extra-special Back to School Night.
Parents always look forward to meeting their children's new teachers and learning what to expect for the coming school year. But this year at Severn Elementary, the event also included a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school's new educational climbing wall, marking the completion of a yearlong project that won the support of parents, businesses, faculty and pupils.
The project was the brainchild of Aaron Vetter, who teaches physical education at the school. Last fall, during a training session, Vetter was thinking about creative ways to encourage pupil participation in his classes. The idea of a climbing wall seemed like a great choice.
Climbing walls are popular, and they are a great tool for building upper-body strength. Working together in climbing groups also fosters teamwork and cooperative learning.
When he presented the idea to the school PTA, Vetter found enthusiastic support.
To pay for the project, the PTA held a fund-raiser in which organizers asked local residents to "buy a rock," or handhold, for the wall. Names of the donors are listed on a plaque mounted next to the wall. The fund-raiser brought in about $3,000 of the $4,000 needed for the wall. The remainder was covered through a $500 grant from Exxon and donations of supplies by several area businesses.
At 72 feet long, with handholds rising to a height of 8 feet, the wall is designed for lateral, rather than vertical, climbing. A background mural - which depicts a jungle scene - rises 30 feet.
At the front end of the wall, climbers have many handholds to choose from. But as they make their way along the jungle path design, handholds become less frequent, challenging the pupils to use more strength and develop climbing skills.
Art teacher Wendy Jaacs coordinated the art project that became the mountainous jungle background across which the pupils climb. The visual cues allow Vetter to challenge a group of pupils to "get to the waterfall" or "try to reach the pond today."
Joining the children, faculty and parents at the ceremony Sept. 9 were several of the business donors as well as former Baltimore Orioles player Larry Sheets, who spoke to the group about physical education.
Vetter reports that the pupils are already enjoying the climbing wall, and he said he finds it a wonderful tool for his physical education classes.
Vetter said the process "typified the community effort - the community coming together, setting a goal and accomplishing it." That is a good lesson for any class.
Walk-and-Roll for Life
Bowie Crofton Pregnancy Center is planning its 18th annual Walk-and-Roll for Life fund-raiser for 10 a.m. Saturday at Allen Pond in Bowie. Serving the community since 1982, the center has provided free medical services and support to more than 11,000 women facing unexpected pregnancy.
Donations are tax-deductible and go toward client services. Information: 301-262-1330.
CARP lunch meeting
Crofton Area Retired Persons will begin its 31st year with a luncheon tomorrow at Seton parish hall in Crofton. A short business meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., followed by a performance by the Belair Square Cats. CARP members will be invited to dance with the Square Cats.
Membership in CARP is open to area retirees age 55 and older. Regular luncheon meetings are offered the third Wednesday of each month, September through May. Annual dues are $10 and the cost for the monthly luncheon meetings is $8.
This year's officers are President Joan Coyle, Vice President Mary Dixon, Secretary Jackie Policicchio and Treasurer Audrey Kerge.
Library grand opening
The grand opening of the new Crofton branch library on Reidel Road is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The new building, which replaces a smaller storefront branch, features a quiet room, meeting rooms, a children's area and an open floor plan. It offers patrons a collection of about 140,000 items.
The opening-day festivities will begin with a flag ceremony by Boy Scout Troops 177 and 758. The dedication and ribbon-cutting will follow.
Attractions during the afternoon will include a children's sing-along, a concert by Capital Brassworks, a performance by Spats, the Lost Vaudevillian, and a visit from the Chick-fil-A Cow.