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Students create treasure from trash

The Baltimore Sun

This month, fourth- and fifth-graders at Jeffers Hill Elementary will essentially cover the school in trash.

A 100-square-foot mosaic mural made of pieces of broken tiles, dishes, cups, shells, marbles and other durable materials will be unveiled April 23. The work will be displayed near the school's main entrance. A second mural - created by the school's third-graders - will be displayed in the school's cafetorium.

The theme of the murals - the goodness of the garden and the earth - was chosen by the students. The project is part of the artist-in-residence program, which pays professional artists to assist schools in creating art to be displayed at the school.

The school's art teacher, Mark Luce, and his students worked with artist-in-residence Tara Holl in January to complete the project, which cost nearly $4,000.

Students were asked to bring in recycled materials for the mural. In addition, Capitol Tile & Marble Co. and Columbia Tile and Marble donated discarded tiles.

Before students began work on the murals, Holl led a school assembly that explained the project, the process of creating mosaics and the work of professional artists and educators.

"It wasn't just about how to make a mosaic," said Jillian Storms, the school's PTA cultural arts coordinator. "It was about how we are all together in this [the environment]. There is an overarching theme that was just as much a part of it as making a mural for the school."

The unveiling of the murals is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the cafetorium.

"The kids have loved it," Storms said. "The principal [Pamela Butler] told me that some of these kids don't get this kind of experience - going to the museum. A lot were dubious that they could do it. In the end, they had this wonderful result that made them proud. The parents who have been involved have been energized."

Students and parents will be working in the next few weeks to assemble the artwork for the unveiling.

"The ownership is by everybody," Storms said.

YES Competition

Casey Jao, a senior at River Hill High School, is one of 60 students across the nation who will vie for a $50,000 scholarship this month at a national science competition.

The Young Epidemiology Scholars, or YES, Competition is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the College Board. It will be held April 13 through April 16 in Washington.

More than 700 juniors and seniors entered the competition, which is focused on increasing student interest in public health.

Epidemiology explores patterns for disease, illness and injury within populations, with the goal of developing methods for prevention, control and treatment to improve health, according to organizers of the competition, which is entering its fourth year.

Jao's project, "Developing Statistical Models to Predict Liver Fibrosis in HCV-Monoinfected and HCV-HIV-Coinfected Hemophiliacs," has earned him a regional finalist distinction in the competition and a $2,000 scholarship.

The competition will determine the winners of the top prizes, which include $35,000, $20,000 and $15,000 scholarships.

Winners of the competition will be announced April 16 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave. in Washington.

"The quality is improving every year," said Diane Tsukamaki, director of the College Board national recognition and scholarship programs. "The projects are excellent."

Past winners have gone on to colleges such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown and Cornell. Many have continued their research; one past winner has had his research published, Tsukamaki said.

Past winners have also been allowed to present their research to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she added.


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