Volume XI, Issue 20 ~ May 15-21, 2003

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Dock of the Bay

Hit the Road Jack
Traveling symphony charms children

Screech, wonk, scratch, boom. Those are the sounds of youngsters trying musical instruments — violins, cello, brass and flute — for the very first time. Whether trying the Jaws movie theme or imitating the sounds of Canadian geese honking, the kids visited by Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s music van have great fun testing, trying and slightly succeeding at making more than noise.

Most musicians play live and go on tour to increase awareness of, and interest in their music. The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra music van has the same plan.

“Our purpose is to encourage children to study music in school,” said Lauren Kirby, marketing and development manager for the orchestra. The orchestra does this by visiting schools and showing the tools of music to children, who are potential future musicians.

“We target third graders because they are at an age to break the intimidation-factor away,” Kirby said. “Some kids have never seen instruments before.”

To show kids classical instruments and introduce the orchestra, some of its musicians hit the road in their van, borrowed from Swanson Automotive. The instruments packed inside are lent, too, by Music & Arts Center of Annapolis. While everything else is loaned or rented, the musicians are the real deal.

Seven musicians share the job of going to schools to meet the children. Four visit each of the 14 schools the van stops at this year. When the van comes, kids are ready to touch and play the instruments as well as listen.

“It’s hectic. The kids are so excited to see us and play,” said violinist Lorraine Combs. But in the long run, she says, excitement isn’t enough. “Kids that are calm will do better at playing because a musician has to focus and concentrate. You have to like the sound you’re playing.”

Packing the music van and organizing its tour through Chesapeake Country is the job of Marshall Mentz, who took over as the orchestra’s music coordinator when Pam Chaconas retired last summer. This marks the fourth year the music van has hit the road.

“Music is fun and interesting. We hope to inspire the children,” said Mentz as the Brooklyn Park third graders buzzed with excitement at the symphonic visitors.

Inspired they were.

Said young Anthony Devonshire, “Playing was fun, and I liked to play Jaws. I play an instrument already. I play the violin. In fourth grade, I want to play drums.”

The May tour stops at elementary schools throughout Anne Arundel County: Brooklyn Park, Chesapeake Academy, Crofton Meadows, Deale, George Cromwell, Germantown, Lothian, Naval Academy Primary School, Riviera Beach, Shady Side, St. Martin’s Lutheran, Tracy’s Landing, Tyler Heights and West Annapolis.

“The music van only visits 14 schools per year,” said Kirby. “Letters were sent out to schools, which were booked on a first-come-first-served basis. There is already a waiting list for next year.” Demand is high because the visiting musicians bring loud noise, which keeps the kids awake and happy as the school year winds down.

The orchestra is always seeking gently used instruments for schools, so youngsters can learn an instrument as well as see one when it visits.

— James Clemenko

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That’s a Lotta Green!
Paca House’s 6,750 plants raise $10,900

Bad weather proved no ill omen for the 30th annual William Paca Garden Sale, which opened in historic downtown Annapolis in a dismal downpour May 10. Plant-seekers turned out in heavy numbers, as a line of multi-colored umbrellas wound around Prince George Street, protecting customers while granting the morning some much-needed color.

Despite the rain, this year’s Paca Garden Sale doubled last year’s sales for a net income of almost $10,900.

Yet shoppers think they’re getting the best of the deal. “They have the best prices in town,” said Annapolitan, Ludia Sarmast while buying for the third year in a row.

The William Paca Garden plant sale furnishes Chesapeake Country gardens like Sarmast’s with rare and noteworthy plants of native and historical significance to Maryland. Some 6,750 plants of 204 different varieties were sold this year, along with a meticulously compiled catalog identifying all the plants.

All plants are grown in the Paca Gardens, not bought wholesale and resold as some other plant sales do, and almost all proceeds from the sale are re-invested into the gardens.

To get thousands of plants ready for Mother’s Day weekend, some 40 volunteers begin work in January. They don’t finish until the money is counted after the annual May sale.

But they’re fortified by love, noted volunteer Elaine Mines, as she answered customers’ questions and gave advice.

“The sale’s a labor of love,” she said. “We all love working with plants, love the garden and enjoy working with each other. We’re like a family.”

The family atmosphere poured over into the sale, with many families present treating mother to plants and flowers on her special day. Some attended a special Mother’s Day tea on the West Terrace of the main house and wandered across the estate’s grounds to take in the plant sale.

Dover English Country Dancers, who performed period dances at the tea, came in colonial costumes to peruse the sale, adding whimsy and character to the florid event.

Roving ukulele player John Shields, husband of volunteer Susan Shields, added another grace note as he wandered among the plants serenading customers with humorously suitable songs such as “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” and — as the sun came blazing out on the second day of the sale “Sunny Side of the Street.”

— Diane Gunter

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Fairhaven School Stretches Out
Curiosity and democratic governance drive growth

Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro is not one of a kind. It is, more accurately, one of 25 worldwide — and the only one of its kind in Maryland.

Three weeks ago, the school’s 60 students and staff of eight spread out into a second wooden building that looks like an inviting camp lodge and that adds 5,400 square feet to the crowded original building.

Visit for the dedication this weekend, and you’ll see that growing Fairhaven is not your usual school.

A teenage boy skateboards over ramps set up in the parking lot. The sound of kids laughing and cheering over some kind of game comes from the huge front porch, which allows students to be outdoors in all kinds of weather. Inside, teens gather in a small lounge to create a silver tabletop from chewing gum wrappers. Down the hall, small children nestle into a pillowed area. Two girls perch on window ledges. In the music room, three boys work on their skills with drums, guitar and microphone. In the great room, an impromptu group sits on the floor in front of a video game.

Everywhere, kids look adults in the eye and speak with natural courtesy and curiosity.

“Did you see the snake in the art room?”

“I’ve been here four years. I love everything here.”

“Hey, who are you?”

Fairhaven is a Sudbury school modeled after the 35-year-old original in Framingham, Massachusetts. Its twin tenets are educational freedom and democratic governance.

That philosophy translates into trusting that children’s natural curiosity about the world will lead them to become educated in ways meaningful to their own life. By virtue of the second tenet, students share a voice in all decisions, including staff salaries and student discipline.

Staff member (the only title among adults here) Lisa Lyons — who is co-founder of Evergreen Sudbury School in Hallowell, Maine — says studies of Sudbury graduates show them to be “optimistic, curious, articulate, caring and ethical. They change careers often, travel and support one another.”

Staffer Romey Pittman says students tend to arrive at Fairhaven in three ways:

“Teens who are not being well-served at public school are bored. They are the driving force behind coming here. The kids often find us on the Internet.

“In the case of kids seven to 14,” she continues, “it’s the parents who are looking for something for their child who is not a good fit for public school.

“In the case of the very young, we attract parents who find this fits their philosophy.”

Once kids arrive at Fairhaven, says Pittman, “it’s the parents who get worried. Kids here have to be self-motivated, and that may take a while.” The school has monthly talks for parents, staff and interested students to talk about issues.

“The issues,” Pittman explains, “always come down to individual right versus community needs. You see the children evolving. First, they are completely self-centered. Then they learn how to relate to another person. At some stage they want to make rules, lots of rules. Later they start to see the difference between individual needs and community needs. And finally they see the needs of community as an abstract.

“All the questions about life are spewing out of this place all the time,” said Pittman.

Curious? Saturday, May 17, Fairhaven School celebrates its fifth year with the dedication of its new building. 2-5pm at 17900 Queen Anne Road, Upper Marlboro: 301/249-8060 • www.fairhavenschool.com.

— Sonia Linebaugh

Update: Linebaugh celebrates an anniversary this issue. A former assistant editor, she wrote her first Bay Weekly story for Vol. I No. 2, May 6-19, 1993

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Dylan Rocks Solomons
Times a-changed, but Dylan still in good rasp

The weather gods smiled, and 4,500 concert goers smiled with them.

Whatever Calvert Marine Museum’s weather god-placating formula is, the Solomons destination could make more bottling and selling it than they do on their sold-out Waterside Concert series.

Never has it rained on their big-name twice-yearly outdoor concert, which is booked with impunity in the notoriously fickle weather days around Memorial and Labor days. While other worthy causes from the Annapolis Symphony to Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival to Sotterley Plantation have lost their shirts to drenching rains, Calvert Marine Museum has remained blissfully dry. Crowds have boogied sans umbrellas for Los Lobos, the Neville Brothers, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Little Feat, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Chicago, Travis Tritt and Emmylou Harris.

“For our Smokey Robinson show, it rained all over the county, but over us the sky cleared. You could literally see that hole in the clouds right over Solomons,” said Vanessa Gill, who now leads the team of three professionals and 150 volunteers who routinely transform the grounds of a salty maritime museum into a carnival.

The sell-out crowd boogying for Bob Dylan stayed a little dryer than the folks who, on Labor Day 2002, heeded James Brown’s admonishment to “get up offa that thing.” Instead of sweat, most Dylan fans worked up the milder lather of nostalgia.

“It just takes me back,” said Sherryl Kirkpatrick, a former Southern Anne Arundel resident who drove from Madison, Virginia, to celebrate Mother’s Day with her grown children, both Dylan fans. A grandmother in her early 50s, Kirkpatrick was an age-match for most of the clapping, swaying, well-behaved audience.

“We market to the 40ish crowd and are pleasantly surprised when we get a younger crowd,” said Gill.

Dylan, the museum’s biggest youth card to date, drew long-haired, scantily clothed teens and 20-somethings who must have reminded many a solid senior, both long-haired and short, of the svelter selves who first heard their existential angst echoed in the raspy voice of Bob Dylan.

Forty years from his emergence as the voice of the questioning 1960s, Dylan — nee Robert Alllen Zimmerman — remained true to his roots. He and his four-man band simply made their music, leaving his audience to follow if they would.

Dylan spoke to the audience only once, to introduce his band. He gave them a few classics — “Maggie’s Farm,” the opener; “Lay Lady Lay”; and “Like a Rolling Stone” — in a concert that sampled his five musical decades without lingering in his folky-protest past. He came on time; played hard for close to an hour and a half, including a two-song encore that brought the thousands to their feet; donned a smartly crimped cowboy hat for a semi bow; and hit the road, fast, in the darkness of one of a pair of giant touring busses.

That seemed to be just what most of the clapping, swaying audience ordered.

As for the music, musician and artist Gary Pendleton, a man of Dylan’s generation, pronounced “Bob in good rasp.

“For a man of a certain age, he put out a lot of energy, and seemed to be enjoying himself, too,” Pendleton said. “His band is great; they were tight. With a band like that backing him, his job was fairly easy. But he was not holding back. At times he was able to ride along on top of the music, but sometimes he seemed to be the one driving it.”

For Kirkpatrick’s husband Michael, the concert had a more personal meaning.

“The weather is beautiful, there are no bad seats and I’m here with my son and daughter — as well as lots of other young people — who like the same music I do,” Kirkpatrick said. “We’re all here together listening to Bob Dylan. What more could you want?”

For Calvert Marine Museum, a Calvert County operation, Bob Dylan satisfied one more desire.

“We have to raise 40 percent of our operating budget,” said Gill. “That’s salaries for seven people. Without this money, people would lose their jobs.”

The take isn’t yet counted, but equally well attended Waterside Concerts, with tickets selling for $40 and $50, have brought the museum as much as $100,000.

Martina McBride, the number-one country vocalist of the year for two years running, takes the Waterside stage August 30.


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Way Downstream …

In Delaware, a judge ruled last week that the state overstepped its authority in limiting the harvest of horseshoe crabs, meaning that the prehistoric creatures that wash up on our shores won’t enjoy new protections during their vulnerable mating season. The increasingly threatened horseshoes are in demand for medical research and as bait for eel and conch …

In Florida, boaters are in a giant snit over U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations to protect the endangered manatee. Over 600 people toting signs such as “We Boat, We Vote” showed up at a protest last weekend to argue that new speed limits will bottleneck boat traffic, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Boat collisions killed a record 95 manatees last year …

In West Hollywood, Calif., the city council last week became the nation’s first to outlaw declawing of cats. Animal rights advocates argued successfully that there are more humane ways for “pet guardians,” as the resolution read, to protect their furniture and prevent scratching. Those ways would include nail trimming, claw caps and better training for cats — referred to as “companion animals” …

Our Creature Feature comes from the Western Pacific, where scientists from Canada’s McGill University say they have discovered the world’s smallest seahorse — about one-half inch high, or smaller than your fingernail.

We’re surprised they even found it because not only is the orange seahorse tiny, it’s a master of camoflage. Now that the pygmy seahorse has been discovered, it may well face its biggest threat — people. “Divers and photographers could possibly love these animals to death,” biologist Sara Lourie told Zoological Studies magazine.

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Last updated May 15, 2003 @ 1:43am