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Group aiding Hispanics receives $10,000 grant

A $10,000 grant awarded by the Columbia Foundation will allow Conexiones to expand a pilot project started this school term at Oakland Mills middle and high schools.

Conexiones is a nonprofit that works to help Hispanic students complete high school, said its president, Murray Simon of Long Reach.

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The program includes tutoring, parent involvement and youth development - "a sort of a club approach where we have guest speakers, films, field trips, and the idea is to give them a sense of belonging. And to get the feeling that school is worthwhile going through," he said. "For a number of kids, it's a very frustrating experience when they feel that nobody cares for them, and they have difficulties with language and culture."

Simon, who holds a master's degree in Spanish, a bachelor's degree in economics and a doctorate in educational administration, served for 14 years as resident adviser to ministries of education in five Latin American countries and 10 years in Africa.

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"After we retired and we lived here in Columbia, we noticed that this population was growing but there were no services, or there weren't sufficient services, to take care of many of the youngsters that were recent arrivals," he said.

It wasn't the first time that Simon, who was born in east Harlem in New York, felt called to act.

"I started doing some of this back in 1949 when there were a lot of Puerto Ricans coming to New York, and they had no orientation to life in the United States," he said. So, he and fellow graduate students began offering orientation classes at New York City public libraries.

Amused at the memory, Simon recalled that when his group wrote to potential donors asking for help, the only answer came from Eleanor Roosevelt.

"And she said, 'It's so hard to raise money; let the public schools do it," he said.

- Fay Lande

Youth leadership training to be offered at library

The east Columbia library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, will offer leadership training for youth, ages 11 to 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 29.

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The program will focus on developing leadership skills through listening, speaking and interacting with others. A service project is required to complete the course. A certificate will be awarded.

Registration is required. Information: 410-313-7704.

East Columbia Preschool has limited openings

The East Columbia Preschool, a cooperative school, has a limited number of openings for the 2004-2005 school year in its two- and three-day afternoon classes.

Information: 410-290-9166.

Around town

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Photo contest: Kings Contrivance village is holding a Cicada Photography Contest for ages 5 to 11 and 12 to 18. Submitted photographs must include a cicada interacting with people, pets, the weather or other aspects of the environment. The winning photographer in each category will receive a gift certificate to The Mall in Columbia. Photographs should be submitted, with an entry form, by Thursday to Amherst House in Kings Contrivance Village Center. Entry forms are available at the village center. Rachel Ticar, 410-997-9265, or Anne Dodd, 410- 381-9600.

Art classes: Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks will sponsor watercolor classes with Carol Zika for those ages 55 and older from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fridays, starting July 9, at the 50+ Center, 6600 Cradlerock Way in east Columbia. The class is designed for beginners, but watercolorists of all skill levels are welcome. The cost is $55 for 10 weeks. "You Can Draw and Paint" classes, an opportunity to explore a variety of media, will be offered from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Fridays at the senior center, starting July 9; and from 1:50 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. Thursdays, starting July 8, at Longwood Apartments, 6150 Foreland Garth. The cost is $55 for the morning class; $44 for the afternoon class. The classes are open to all ages. 410-313- 7279.


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