'I want to be a space person,' says Selina, 11


This week, as the nation struggled to deal with the tragedy of the lost space shuttle astronauts, Selina Ortiz, 11, decided to do something about it. She picked up the phone and called the Howard County bureau of The Sun.

"Hi. My name is Selina Ortiz, and I think the government should still spend $15 billion so that people can still go to space. But I think what happened to the Columbia is a bad thing that happened to the moms and dads on the Columbia space shuttle. I thank you for listening to what I have to say, and just keep it in your heart. Thank you. Bye. And I'd like for this to be in the newspaper, if it's not a big deal," she said in a voicemail message that included her phone number.

Reached later by telephone, her mom, Penny Ortiz, said her daughter loves space and is curious about everything.

"She had us out not too long back in the freezing cold waiting for an eclipse," she said. "You know how when you're driving and you see the moon, and it looks like it's following you? She always says, 'Look, Mom, it's following us home like it's a guardian angel.' "

Selina, who lives with her mother in Savage and is a sixth-grader at Patuxent Valley Middle School, left the message on an editor's voicemail, spoke to a reporter and even sent a fax because, she said, "I just wanted to let everybody know what I felt. I think it was pretty sad because they didn't deserve to die. When I grow up, I want to be a space person because I like science, and I like the whole world.",

Rec council accepting registration for chess class

The South Laurel Recreation Council is accepting registration for its beginning chess course for youths ages 6 to 15.

The four-week class will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, beginning tomorrow, at Montpelier Carriage House on the grounds of Montpelier Mansion in south Laurel.

The cost is $24.

Information: 301-776-2805.


Deployed: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel P. Bowers, son of Paul E. Bowers of Sprucehill Drive, Laurel, is halfway through a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf while assigned to the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, based in San Diego.

Graduates: Navy Seaman Apprentice Esau A. Garcia, son of Air Force Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Angolo of Laurel, recently graduated from Operations Specialist School at the Fleet Combat Training Center, Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, Va.

Around town

Historical society to meet: Instead of its regular meeting on the third Monday of the month, the Savage Historical Society will meet for a work session to catalog and organize donated historical items from 9 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at United Methodist Church of Savage, 9032 Baltimore St. Anyone who would like to lend a hand is welcome. Participants should use the side entrance, off Foundry Street. Take a lunch. The Rev. Galen R. Menne, president, 301-725-7630.

Story time: The Savage branch library, 9525 Durness Lane, offers "Plant a Reader," a 30-minute story time series for children ages 2 and 3, at 10:15 a.m. Tuesdays, through Feb. 25. Techniques to foster reading-readiness in children will be offered to parents. Handouts will be distributed. Registration is required. 410-880-5978.

Agewell: Savage Senior Center, 9525 Durness Lane, will offer a Level One 50+ Agewell exercise class for seniors at 11 a.m. Wednesdays. The class, designed to help with arthritic pain and increase physical strength and balance, will begin when 10 participants are registered. Transportation is available through Howard Transit. The cost is $24 for 16 classes. Edith Bennett, 410-880-5915.

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