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Cradlerock School uses holiday to bring together kids, role models

The Baltimore Sun

Cradlerock School is using the approaching Thanksgiving holiday to promote positive male role models and healthy lifestyles.

On Wednesday, the school hosted its annual Meals with Magnificent Men, a lunch that encourages interaction between fathers and their kindergarten children.

The lunch was not limited to fathers and was open to other family members. Central office personnel such as Steve Drummond, security coordinator for the county schools, also ate with the children.

"That was a way for them to connect with the kids," said Principal Jason McCoy.

In addition, 15 eighth-grade boys ate lunch with the kindergartners.

"That was a great sight to see," McCoy said about the participation of the eighth-graders.

Between the family members and the volunteers, each of the 80 kindergartners had someone with whom to eat.

The Thanksgiving meal featured turkey and "everyone was very pleased with the fixings," McCoy said. "The kids really loved it. The eighth-graders really loved it because they got to eat twice."

After the meal, the students gave their "magnificent man" a written thank-you note. Each kindergartner was given a book donated by Barnes & Noble.

The event is a collaboration between the school and the Judy Center, a program that encourages early childhood learning.

"We are trying to promote how important it is to be involved with their children and grandchildren," McCoy said. "Often we have the moms and the grandmothers volunteering. We want them [the men] to be involved in the development of their child."

In the spring, the school will host Games with Great Guys, during which male family members and mentors participate in field-day activities with kindergartners.

"We hope that after this they will continue to come in," McCoy said. "These two events are a very inviting way for them to come in and enrich the lives of the kindergartners."

Two weeks ago, the school held its third Turkey Trot, a one-mile race in which students and staff members, run, walk and limp to complete the course.

The Columbia chapter of the Continental Society purchased gift cards for the first- and second-place male and female winners at each grade level. Third-place finishers received a bag with the school's name on it. Smoothie King of Columbia also helped to sponsor the event.

In the past, the school gave the first-place winners a turkey and second-place finishers a pie. The school abandoned that practice because it became too difficult to refrigerate the food.

"The kids take a lot of ownership," McCoy said of the gift cards. "It gets the kids thinking about how they can contribute to their Thanksgiving dinner."

In addition to the spirit of competition, students learned the importance of completing a task and staying healthy, McCoy said.

"There were a lot of hidden messages," McCoy said.

Well-kept secret

Never play poker with state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick or Atholton High School Principal Marcia Leonard. They know how to keep a secret and a straight face.

The pair put their skills on display Thursday when Mabrooka Chaudhry, 34, a history teacher at Atholton, was one of two Maryland educators honored with a $25,000 Milken National Educator award.

Grasmick -- who has known the identity of the winner for the past month -- came to Atholton on Thursday under the guise of speaking about student achievement and academic success.

She delivered a speech in which she praised students and staff members for their outstanding efforts. She never indicated that a major surprise was about to be announced.

"It was very hard," Grasmick said about keeping up the charade.

Leonard, who did not hint at the award while emceeing the event, said the key to keeping the surprise a secret was that "I have a great secretary."

Winners' circle

There must be something in the water fountains at Atholton.

Past Milken National Educator award winners Roger Plunkett, the school system's business, community, government relations officer, and Centennial High School Principal Scott Pfeifer previously worked at Atholton. They were in attendance for the announcement of Chaudhry's award.

MRSA forum

County health officials will hold a public forum Tuesday night to discuss MRSA, the form of staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics.

Seven students in Howard County have been diagnosed with skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA.

The discussion will be led by Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, Howard County health officer, and by Dr. B. Mark Landrum and Dr. Ramya Gopinath, infectious disease specialists with Howard County General Hospital. They will answer questions and share preventive measures to protect against the infection.

The hourlong forum is to start at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way in Columbia.

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