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Burton on the Bay | Earth Journal | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Bay Reflections | Dock of the Bay
| Green Consumer |
by Liz Zylwitis
You might have been dangling your feet above the water at
Annapolis City Dock as the Blue Angels soared overhead. Or looking up
at the big guy in red as he handed you a candy cane. You might have
been climbing the stairs of the Washington Monument or soaking in a
balmy summer evening in the park …
It could have been Fourth of July or Memorial Day, and the music might have set you marching.
Or snapping your fingers, as you listen beneath the shade of a giant oak as a band played cool jazz.
You may have escaped winter’s chill in Mitscher Hall, warmed by The Naval Academy Band’s Christmas Concert. Or you may have stayed out in the cold on Pennsylvania Avenue until you lost feeling in all 10 toes to hear the band play in a presidential inaugural parade.
America’s military bands play for you and me just as often and variously as they play for the president, his high-ranked guests and the cream of Washington’s federal class.
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines
The nearby nation’s capital is home to the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Bands. Each of these bands has their own claim to fame.
“We are most proud of our tradition and history.” said Julie Stapf of the US Marine “President’s Own” Band. “Since John Adams was president, we’ve played wherever history is being made, from the signing of the Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln to recent state dinners honoring South Africa’s Nelson Mandella and Germany’s Helmut Kohl.”
Together since 1798, the Marine Band is the longest existing military band organization in the United States. However, the early Marine bands were a far cry from today’s.
The field bands of the 1700s, came to us from Europe. Typically a group of 16 drummers and horn players used their instruments fifes, trumpets, bugles and horns to signal daily chores to the rest of their battalions. The 1798 Marine band doubled that size, with 32 drums and fifes plus drum and fife majors.
Some of those musicians were killed while serving aboard warships from 1798-1801 in the French Naval War. Musicians shared the hazards of military life for a century, marching behind the advancing line.
Gradually over the next century, professionally trained bands replaced field bands and assimilated the musical traditions of the many cultures of America’s colonists. In the same bands where bagpipes were replacing fifes, black soldiers required to serve but in many colonies forbidden to bear arms added their own musical experience.
The President’s Own United States Marine Band
The Marine Band held their first concert in Georgetown, on a hill overlooking the Potomac, on August 21,1800. On New Year’s Day 1801, President Adams called on the band to make its White House debut. When Adam’s Vice President Jefferson took over the presidency, the Band played at his inauguration, a tradition they’ve stuck to.
John Philip Sousa, director of the Band from 1880-92, wrote the marches that earned him the title of March King, while he brought the Band to the level of excellence to which every director has since aspired.
Today, the Marine Band, one of the smaller military bands with 148 members including support staff, performs over 600 concerts, each year. Of those 200 are at the White House.
“While we don’t have smaller groups in place like the other bands, we can provide anything that the White House requires for state receptions, dinners and dances including jazz combos, classical music and showtunes,” said Stapf.
“We offer musicians the exciting prospect of performing for the president and other leaders, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a stable job and solid reputation,” Stapf continued.
Over 90 percent of Marine band musicians re-enlist after their first four years. Most stay for 20 years or more.
Each fall, the Band tours a different region of the United States. This year’s tour of the southwest takes them through Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas, performing 48 concerts in 50 days for 100,000 people.
United States Air Force Bands
Are you one of the 90 million in 48 countries and 40 world capitals who have heard the Air Force Band play? Are you one of the millions more who’ve caught them on radio or television, over the last 50 years?
This band has many parts Concert Band, Singing Sergeants chorus, Airmen of Note jazz ensemble, Strolling Strings, Ceremonial Brass, High Flight show group, Silver Wings country group and Chamber Players.
Trumpeter, fluegelhornist and valve trombonist Vaughn Nark, who performed as a soloist in last year’s Annapolis Jazzfest, began his career with the Airmen of Note. After 20 years, Nark left the Airmen to join the company of such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Henry Mancini, Lena Horne, Natalie Cole and Wynton Marsalis.
Nark’s civilian success is nothing new to this band. Legendary big-band man Glenn Miller was once leader of the Dance Band we now know as Airmen of Note.
Another Air Force band, the Concert Band, plays to help create better understanding among the peoples of the world. To achieve that lofty goal, they fly the world, bringing music to Americans at home and overseas with more than 100 concert appearances each year, including this month’s Guest Artist Series at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
All the Air Force Bands, “America’s International Musical Ambassadors” are looking forward to their next 50 years.
United States Navy Bands
The Navy Band, established on March 4,1925 by an Act of Congress, keeps step with changes in the music world. Navy’s four national capital bands total 130 members. Of these, 60 strike up the Concert Band, 17 Sea Chanters chant of the sea, 18 Commodores get to the soul of music with big band and jazz, four on the Topside blend jazz with rock, and six ride the tide of country and Bluegrass music as Country Current.
Most of these musicians have bachelors degrees, and three officers have advanced degrees in music. An additional 35 musicians work in public relations and music reference.
“Navy’s musicians come out of civilian life to audition for the opening they saw advertised in the paper,” said Heidi Hunter of the Navy Band. “They want a job site in the thick of national politics, reputable colleagues, an employer who can offer career advancement and the opportunity to specialize, and a job description that calls for performing at the White House, boosting morale, touring the States and spreading good will abroad.”
In Washington, the Navy band play for the president, welcome foreign dignitaries at the White House and Pentagon, and bury dead comrades in arms at Arlington National Cemetery.
On tour, they perform nightly concerts throughout the country, coordinated with the other national capitol bands to make sure everybody’s not playing in Peoria at the same time. Altogether, they appear 2200 times each year.
One Navy group is especially busy. With country music at an all-time peak in popularity, Navy’s Country Current, formed in 1973, circulates from the White House, the Grand Ole Opry and Wheeling Jamboree to the Academy of Country Music Awards show with such well-knowns as Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels, and the Statler Brothers. They also tour the country each year to recruit young Americans for the Navy.
In 1991 on ABC’s Good Morning America and TNN’s Nashville Now, millions heard County Current perform “We Are With You,” an original composition for the soldiers in Operation Desert Storm.
The Sea Chanters are what their name suggests and more. Since 1956, they’ve sung of the sea and performed jazz, contemporary hits and popular Broadway tunes. Topside, Navy’s jazz/rock quartet takes requests for big band and swing sounds as well as rock and dance classics dating way back to the ‘50s. The Commodores, on the other hand, combine the authentic sounds of swing and bebop with today’s high-energy music. Jim Hayward of Shady Side retired recently after years as lead saxophonist with the Commodores.
Navy’s Bands can match the right music to any occasion.
United States Army Band
Since 1917, “Pershing’s Own” Army Bands Concert Band, Ceremonial Band, Chorus, Chorale, Blues, Strings, Brass Band, Brass Quintet and Herald Trumpets have appeared 5000 times a year to represent the senior armed service, the United States Army.
With a repertoire limited neither by musical nor language barriers, the all-male Chorus greets visiting dignitaries such as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the Princess of Thailand in their own native tongues. Those are only two of their two dozen languages.
You’re likely to hear them singing from a repertoire of pop, Broadway, folk or classical music on their regular appearances with the National Symphony in televised Memorial Day concerts and in Independence Day performances from the U.S. Capitol. Look for them alone or with the Concert Band at the Kennedy Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall.
Later, many men of the Chorus most of whom hold advanced degrees in music springboard into civilian careers as performers, arrangers and conductors in grand opera, Broadway production and popular music, stateside and abroad.
Like the Chorus, Army’s Chorale is recognized as a driving force in vocal music. This mixed vocal ensemble is the only full-time professional ensemble of its kind, singing everything from Broadway to Motown, jazz to pop and grand opera to the Grand Ole Opry. Chosen for their musical versatility and showmanship, the men and women of the Chorale combine voice with dance.
The Herald Trumpets have heralded change since their first official performance, welcoming Queen Elizabeth II to America for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. At landmark events of all sorts World’s Fairs, the opening of Walt Disney World and the 1980 Winter and 1984 Summer Olympics, and the relighting of the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July, 1986 the voices of their trumpets rise to the occasion.
The Brass Band continues a European tradition, while the Blues, a jazz band, is distinctively American. They preserves the music of the big bands era, put their own spin on innovative contemporary music, and shape the future of jazz with original works by their own arrangers and composers.
The Ceremonial Band serves at over 1,000 military funerals each year in Arlington National Cemetery, where they also play Taps for wreath laying ceremonies by foreign dignitaries at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
From the somber to the sensational, Army’s Bands attract attention wherever they play.
Naval Academy Bands
At the founding of the Naval Academy in 1845, the “band” consisted of only a fifer and a drummer. A half a dozen years later, bureaucrats authorized the Academy “a band of music to consist of one master of the band at $18 per month, six musicians at $12 per month and five at $10 per month.” Each man also received a daily ration of one pound of salt beef or pork, flour, rice, vegetables, a pint of wine or a little whiskey.
With no money for operating expenses, the midshipmen and officers each contributed 25 cents a month for new instruments and an early Academy superintendent ordered all the grass on the Academy grounds be mowed and sold as hay to pay for new band uniforms with gold braid and feathered helmets.
In 1906, band director Charles Zimmerman wrote “Anchors Aweigh.” First used at the Army-Navy game that year, it has continued popular as Navy’s theme song.
Over its 142-year history, the Band has swelled from 13 to 64 members. Today, the Bands Woodwind Quintet, Brass Quintet, Percussion Ensemble, Trombone Quartet, The Next Wave jazz ensemble and The Electric Brigade encourage the Brigade of Midshipmen, support Navy recruiting and play patriotically throughout the East Coast.
“Patriotism” is a big word, nowadays. Electric Brigade, formed in 1979, launches invasions of sound that keep school kids awake during midday assemblies. Like a modern-day version of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, they dominate the auditorium stage, playing current and classic rock ‘n roll on fully amplified electric guitar, keyboard and drums in high schools and universities and contribute to the mood of county fairs, arts festivals and local concert series in our area and on tour.
From Bach to Scott Joplin, the Trombone Quintet plays classical and ragtime in area schools and libraries and on regional tours. The Next Wave, a jazz band of 17 professional musicians who are not midshipmen, reveal their love for jazz by doing their part to keep big band sound alive throughout the United States.
The Percussion Ensemble unfolds a world of music ranging from pre-revolutionary fife and drum to Guatemalan marimba, ragtime, jazz and contemporary. Each year, they tour area schools playing “Music for Young Audiences.” The Woodwind Quintet selects their music from classic and modern composers, making sure to represent America as well as Europe.
The Army and Marine bands have names, but the Naval Academy Bands appear untaken. As a native Annapolitan, I like to think of them as mine.
The best question is not where did you first hear a military band play but where will you hear them next.
March 28 Country Current is joined by percussionist Bob Snider on the vibraphone, at 7:30PM: 202/433-6090.
Sun. April 23 Current plays with Boots Randolf at Fairfax High School in northern Virginia, at 3PM. If Randolf’s name isn’t as familiar as those of such music greats as Elvis Presley, Richie Cole, Chet Atkins, Connie Francis and Brenda Lee, after 40 solo albums and recordings with them all, his sax is. For up to four tickets, send a SASE, no later than April 7, to: Country Tickets, US Navy Band, Washington Navy Yard, Bldg. 105, Washington, DC 20374-5054
Sun. March 26 The Marine Chamber Orchestra plays at the National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. at 2PM: 202/433-4011.
Sundays, April 2,9 & 16 The Marine Concert Band’s Spring Concert Series comes George Mason Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Va., Sundays at 2PM thru April. Plus one show, April 27, at 8PM, at Joseph Myerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. All FREE.
• Air Force
Sun. March 26 Join the Air Force for a special recreation of the original Glenn Miller Army Air Forces Orchestra at DAR Constitution Hall, 18th & D Streets, Washington, at 2PM: 202/767-4310.
Look for more military concerts each week in “Good Bay Times.”
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Michael Ryan thought he’d be an opera singer. He grew up to have the best of several worlds, one of them the White House.
by Sonia Linebaugh
Michael Ryan’s rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant fails to communicate his job solo singer and announcer for the Marine Corps Band.
The 197 year-old Marine band proudly bears the title given them by Thomas Jefferson: “The President’s Own.” They have played at every inauguration since Jefferson’s in 1801. State dinners, dances and receptions keep them at the White House regularly.
What do you play for the president?
“Whatever is wanted,” says Ryan, “from full marching band, to concert orchestra, to chamber group, to harp and flute. If humanly possible, we do whatever the President wants.
The Clintons like soft rock, strolling strings and harp. The Reagans and Bushes preferred show tunes, and Bush, in particular, liked country. The Carters called for classical music, especially Bach’s Brandenburg concertos.
The Nation’s Top Voice
Ryan describes his baritone voice as “bass with high notes.” It’s the kind of voice that moves easily from “Largo al Factotum” the song we call “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro” from the opera Barber of Seville to “Old Man River” from Broadway’s Showboat. Show tunes are regulars but not rock. Music critics have praised Ryan’s voice for its “great depth and wonderfully clear diction.”
“Michael is a wonderfully versatile singer. His expressive style reaches out to every member of our audiences and delivers with drama, humor and grace,” says Captain Dennis R. Borian, assistant director of the Marine Band.
Besides playing for the president, the band also plays for the public. Free. They are, after all, America’s Band too. On their schedule are outdoor summer concerts at the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument grounds, chamber recitals, orchestra concerts and band concerts. Each fall the band goes on tour, in the U.S.A. and abroad. Ryan sings and hosts the concerts.
Ryan has sung in Norway, Ireland, England, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union. The Soviet trip came in 1989 “in a little window between glasnost and peristroika,” he says, “before the Union fell apart. We could never do it now. Things are too unstable.”
At Arlington Cemetery’s amphitheater, in his customary red-coated full-dress uniform, you can hear Ryan sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic any day of the week. He appears every ten minutes on video.
Ryan regards himself as lucky. “If I had the career I’d envisioned for myself at 20, I’d have lived out of suitcases all these years, like some of my friends, to sing opera.
“By reacting to the opportunities that came my way, I’ve been able to have the career, the farm, the wife and the kids,” Ryan says. “God’s plan for me was better than the one I had for myself.”
The Path Taken
The “farm” is wooded acreage in southern Anne Arundel County the postal address is Lothian where Ryan lives with his wife, Trixie, and two children, Kathleen, 23, and Quentin, 21. The path to a life balanced between the heights of power and the comforts of southern Maryland living began not so far away one summer many years ago.
“Our Colonial Beach cottage had a stack of long-playing records. I was fascinated by Mario Lanza singing La Donna Emobile from Rigaletto. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t even know there were different languages at that time.
“I told my mother that’s what I wanted to do. There wasn’t much family support, but I did it anyway. It didn’t seem unusual at the time but when I look back, it seems strange for someone to spend high school years singing opera.”
“A good liberal arts education” followed: 12 years of Catholic school, two years of seminary where, Ryan says, “I figured out that music was something I had to do.” topped off by a degree in Romance languages from University of Maryland.
Ryan spent the Vietnam years singing in the Army Band Chorus. He met his wife through the job her brother was a fellow singer staying six years, until the Marines called.
“The man who had been the Marine Band soloist for years was about to retire. They called me in to audition.
“I guess I fit their requirements,” he continued. “They wanted someone who would make a career in the military because it’s a big investment for them.”
“I was uniquely suited to the job,” Ryan says.
The Marine Band has first call on his time, but Ryan also accepts a few private singing students. He plays after-dinner entertainments with a trio and emcee’s for other musical groups. He’s also choir director at St. James Episcopal Church in Lothian.
For Michael Ryan it’s all a blessing.
“I love music,” he says, summing up a life in harmony.
Sidebar: Want to Join the Marine Band?
When Michael Ryan retires sometime in the next 10 years, the Marine Band will be looking for a new vocalist. Musicians in the band are recruited regularly.
Applicants needn’t show up looking to be trained. “We take people into the band who can already do all this stuff. We say, ‘Get into a car, go to the White House, and start playing,’” Ryan says, exaggerating only slightly.
The Marines do not require boot camp for musicians like other military services do. Applicants audition behind a screen to rule out biases. Finalists are interviewed because, in addition to musical ability, band members must be willing to represent and uphold the reputation of the U.S. Marine Corps both in and out of uniform. Team spirit is fostered at all times.
Competition for the U.S. Marine Band is stiff. Up to 100 applicants apply for every open position.
Look forward to the outdoor summer concerts by the Concert Band, Dixieland Band, or Jazz Combo: Wednesdays in front of the U.S. Capitol at 8PM; Sundays at the Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument, 8PM.
PLAN AHEAD for all indoor concerts. Tickets are free but disappear very quickly. 24-hour info line: 202/433-4011.
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Dock of the Bay
St. Mary’s College Must Seek New President
by Steve T. Smith
Special to New Bay Times~Weekly
Edward T. Lewis will have one more spring a president of St. Mary’s, one of the few public liberal arts colleges in the nation. Lewis, who has led St. Mary’s College for a dozen years, said this week he will step down June 1, 1996.
Dozens of faculty and staff members heard an emotional Lewis read a statement thanking them for “your kindness, your willingness to work at a crazy pace to build this institution, and most of all for your friendship.”
Then he walked across the pastoral campus to make a similar announcement to students.
In his 12 years at St. Mary’s, Lewis has help bring many improvements to the college. The number of applicants almost doubled under his leadership, and SAT scores rose so high that the college has ranked first in Maryland’s system for several years. The college’s unique curriculum and affordable tuition has attracted national attention. In past years, St. Mary’s has consistently ranked in the top five, and sometimes at the very top, of U.S. New and World Report’s ranking of liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. Money has named it a Best Buy.
Two of Lewis’ achievements stand out. A special governance agreement between the college and the state gives St. Mary’s greater freedom in spending its budget and ensures it a minimum level of annual funding from the state legislature.
The construction of a new $16 million science building, named for former governor William Donald Schaefer, and 81 new student townhouses smartly modernized a campus of aging buildings.
Lewis said that he wanted to leave when there was momentum and “optimism about the future.
“Since both those conditions now exist,” he continued, “it’s a good time for a change.”
Lewis said he felt “profound ambivalence about retirement. He’s “exhilarated” to think of returning to private life and spending more time with his family. On the other hand, Lewis said he will “mill on a daily basis the excitement of building an institutions, and will feel an emptiness when I leave because I won’t be working with so many people I feel affection and respect for.”
The search for the next president of St. Mary’s College has begun. The search committee has scheduled an open meeting with faculty and students in April.
In Annapolis, Astronaut Heads New Watchdog Group
Harrison H. Schmitt was the 12th and last man to step on the moon. Next, he landed in the U.S. Senate.
Now, Schmitt has launched a new mission the Annapolis Center, which is dedicated to questioning the thinking behind environmental, health and safety rules.
When Schmitt was traveling to the moon in 1972 during the last of six manned lunar landings, Mission Control became antsy when they couldn’t raise the Apollo crew with a trumpet and cymbals. Next, they tried an oscillating whine
“We’re asleep,” Schmitt replied. “Boy, that was some party last nigh. A real humdinger.”
Schmitt, 59, always has been one to say what he thinks. What he thinks the Annapolis Center ought to say is that some of our environmental and safety rules in the U.S. have gone in the wrong direction.
“It is very important right now to challenge the assumptions we’ve made in dealing with risk,” Schmitt said this week. ‘‘For a long time, it was felt that any risk was too much and that we as a country could spend as much money as needed to mitigate risk.”
The Annapolis Center opened on State Circle three months ago with Schmitt as its president. One of its first projects is leaping into the controversial area of risk by distributing a handbook called Reporting on Risk.
“Unfortunately, publicity and fear, rather than science-based conclusions about risk, often drive decision-making,” asserts the handbook, which was funded partly by government money.
The Annapolis Center’s board of directors is packed with scientists and academics who have been critical of environmental and safety laws. It has a decidedly conservative bent.
The center’s tax status prevents it from lobbying. Some board members, while wearing other hats, have endorsed the anti-regulatory approach of “Contract with America” bills working their way through Congress.
Schmitt wants more risk studies by government before issuing environmental regulations. The center intends to promote more studies about the cost and benefits of environmental rules and to hold a workshop on global climate change.
Environmental advocates argue that efforts like the Annapolis Center’s often are thinly veiled drives to protect business from environmental rules.
Peter Montague, founder of the national Environmental Research Foundation in Annapolis, asserted that proponents of added risk and cost studies “often point people and society in the wrong direction.” The foundation publishes the authoritative Rachel’s Environmental and Health Weekly.
“Society in the past has protected itself against obvious hazards without sufficient information. We have lots of evidence that pesticides are killing people and lots of evidence that lead is harming people on the job and children in our cities,” Montague said.
“We don’t know everything about those problems and we probably never will. The point is, we know enough.”
Harrison “Jack” Schmitt has taken on critics before. The late Richard M. Nixon once remarked: “I used to support the idea to take a man to the moon. However, I should attach to that the condition to keep him there.”
Schmitt observed last week that Nixon’s “lack of perspective as to what space was going to mean to humankind over the long term did damage the space program.”
Why was Annapolis picked for the center?
Meaghan Hayward, the center’s director of public relations, said that Schmitt and others wanted to set themselves apart from the many Washington-based groups.
“Annapolis is sort of a feel-good region,” she said. “We wanted to separate ourselves from the feeling you get in being part of the Washington scene.”
Schmitt, who is a geologist by training, will continue living outside Albuquerque. He got to know Annapolis when he was a senator and working in Washington for NASA.
He observed that his center will be holding workshops, and that he expects strong attendance when people learn they’ll take place in Annapolis rather than Washington.
“Annapolis is a delightful area. It’s a pretty good selling card,” he said.
Bracing for PST Decision
The matter of the PST Reclamation landfill in Southern Anne Arundel County may not be finished with Maryland Department of the Environment’s upcoming decision on whether to allow expansion.
That was the message that came out of the South County Civic Association last week’s strategy session to prepare for the worst.
“If for any reason we are not happy with what they do, we will file an appeal,” asserted Rhonda Zinn, a leader in the effort to block the expansion. “We are prepared to go to the limits.”
Many Harwood-Lothian residents also are prepared to reject some of the latest moves to quell their anger by Anne Arundel County and PST owner Preston Taylor III.
The county is putting the finishing touches on a proposal that could include more police presence in the area, some widened roads and an environmental officer stationed at the PST landfill. The plan, which could involve some county funds, would need approval by the county council.
Zinn wouldn’t discuss the specifics of citizen’s plan, but said: “They’re talking about a community benefit plan with no input from the community.”
PST’s operation, situated near the Patuxent River on Sands Road in Harwood, has been occasion of a trenchant environmental battle. PST accepts rubble, demolition wastes and a variety of non-toxic materials from Maryland and surrounding states. People in the area are especially concerned about the stream of trucks on their narrow roads.
Maryland’s Environment Department is closing in on a decision on PST’s request to expand by 45 acres.
In an interview with New Bay Times~Weekly this week, Secretary of the Environment Jane Nishida declined to say when the ruling will come.
“This controversial decision is going to be made objectively and without bias within Department of the Environment’s normal procedures,” Nishida said.
One possibility is that the expansion will be approved if the new portion of the landfill is lined. Maryland law does not now require such a precaution with rubble landfills, but the furor over the PST operation could prompt the state to move in that direction.
South County residents are debating whether a plastic liner would satisfy their concerns. They are aware that if the decision is not favorable, they will have just 15 days to file a well-researched appeal.
“We want to be assured that if the state allows PST to remain open, our groundwater will be protected in every possible way,” Zinn said.
A School Is Born
English, math and science are on the daily schedule at most schools, but for kids who might someday attend Fairhaven School, education means choice. Mark and Kim McCaig, founding members of a school that’s still an idea, offer an alternative to students and parents who dread the same routine everyday.
The McCaigs are both experienced teachers. Mark, with a master’s degree in education, taught 10 years in Catholic high schools, Gonzaga in Washington, D.C. and Mater Dei in Bethesda. Kim, who is certified, has taught Montessori preschoolers, public highschoolers and adults.
Disillusioned with conventional education, both look forward to opening their ideal school, where "children are free to do what they want as long as they don't infringe on another person's rights," says Kim. "By allowing children to shape their day as they see fit, they will emerge as confidant and self-motivated individuals."
Following the lead of Sudbury Valley School, in Framingham, Mass., the McCaigs hope to form a school based on freedom and democracy. Both students and staff will make rules; together they will vote on decisions.
Parents will also have a say. "They will be involved with major decisions like mapping out a budget," Kim McCaig says. In these early days, parents including Mark and Kim’s own are active as founding members.
At Fairhaven School, teachers will be more than teachers .
"We'll be seen as role models and friends," Mark says. "It will be a large family where kids can come to adults when they need them."
Fairhaven School will enroll girls and boys from five to 18. From 8:00AM to 5:00PM, these kids will not only have the freedom to choose their daily activities but also may come and go as they please as long as they sign in and meet minimum criteria.
A free school open all day may seem odd, but when the McCaigs visited Sudbury Valley they found only positive reactions. "They were friendly children who enjoyed being in school everyday," Kim says.
Mike adds that their “'secret weapon' is having all ages interact together. Older children like to look out for the younger ones."
What about those older children who have already experienced the traditional school system? The McCaigs expect a transition period from a week to a year when a child might sit alone or constantly play four square.
But that, like choosing a location, is a way away. The McCaigs and their supporters must first satisfy the State Board of Education. To receive a certificate of approval, Fairhaven School must comply with certain codes, from fire and safety standards to grading methods. Fairhaven School won’t give grades, so the McCaigs have their work cut out for them.
With that encounter upcoming in April, the McCaigs remain positive. "Even if this doesn't happen, we're glad to bring everyone together for a common goal," Kim McCaig said.
Mark McCaig added, "The ironic thing about this is we were good students who conformed and here we are being fairly zealous."
Interested? Join founding members at a school meeting Saturday, March 25 at 2:00PM at South County Branch Library in Deale. Hal Sadofsky, a Sudbury Valley graduate and math professor at Johns Hopkins University, will be on hand to answer questions.
Way Downstream ...
In South Korea, people must be shy, nosy or both. That country’s environment ministry said last week that people can begin using opaque trash bags rather than the clear plastic ones now required.
The ministry said too many people worried that neighbors saw what they throw away ...
Coloradans love skiing, right? Not all of them do. Residents of Snowmass, Colo., have fought against plans to allow the ski resort there to expand by 415 acres. Why? Because all the snowmaking takes too much of Colorado’s precious water.
The opponents lost after resort owners argued that the snow melted and returned to the watershed ...
In Chilean waters, a scary face-off was underway at sea this week. The British ship Pacific Pintail battled 30-foot-waves and gale-force winds at is headed at 10 knots toward Japan with a load of French nuclear waste.
That’s not the ship’s only problem. A non-nuclear friendly Chilean Navy vessel this week ordered the ship out of its waters ...
Speaking of disputes at sea, the ruckus over fishing between Spain and Canada is ending with humor. In Newfoundland, a radio station last week played an adaptation of the old romantic tune, ‘Blue Spanish Eyes’.
It began: “You Spanish guys, will no more eat turbot with your fries …”
Tell your dog about our Creature Feature, which comes to us this week from California. Better yet, take your dog on a journey to romp in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The National Park Service has turned down the request by anti-dog grumps to require leashes on any pooch setting paws on the Presidio, Ocean Beach and coastal areas around San Francisco.
Remarked one dog-lover: “This is a recreation area, it’s not the Golden Gate National Pristine Environment.”
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Thirty Percent More Good News Every Week
“I see New Bay Times~Weekly everywhere whenever I’m about and hear nice things about it from really nice people, from downtown Annapolis to South County,” said Terry Tipton, when I called to congratulate her on winning New Bay Times~Weekly’s Luck o’ the Irish drawing a month of free advertising.
Terry, an avid reader as well as advertiser, lives in Shady Side, where she and her husband, Mark, work at interior design and custom cabinetry in their own small business, Interior Image. She grew up in Annapolis. Like most New Bay Times~Weekly readers, she’s a citizen of our Chesapeake Bay region.
Also like many New Bay Times~Weekly readers, Terry appreciates a newspaper that recognizes the human stake in news. Part of our human stake is the personal touch that approaches features from the heart. (We think Terry will like the way Associate Editor Sonia Linebaugh this week reflected Michael Ryan, the voice of the United States Marine Band.)
Another part of our human stake is asking what news means for people’s lives. We hope New Bay Times~Weekly news never leaves you feeling you’ve walked into the middle of a conversation among rocket scientists or bureaucrats. We write New Bay Times~Weekly stories so that when you finish, you’ll say “So that’s what’s happening …” We hope that’s how you and Terry will feel this week, after you’ve read about the determination of the people who live around the PST, the Harwood rubblefill. Or about why Congressman Wayne Gilchrest is standing up to his political party.
Like Terry, we at New Bay Times~Weekly believe that people are building our success.
Small weekly newspapers only survive and succeed because of people readers and advertisers. We’re flourishing because of you some who’ve put your faith in us from the beginning, just shy of two years ago now; others to whom we’re a bright new idea; still others who we’re slowly converting. It’s because of you that Terry Tipton sees New Bay Times~Weekly everywhere, and new every week.
This time last year, approaching our first birthday, New Bay Times~Weekly was new only twice a month. First your support made us weekly. Now reader demand keeps us growing. This month alone, we’ve increased the number of papers we print by 30 percent and the number of distribution spots to 260.
Thirteen thousand copies means 32,500 readers, everyone of them agreeing with you that there’s a lot more worth reporting in your neighborhood than crime and violence.
That’s 32,500 people each week in your community, all sharing common interests through New Bay Times~Weekly.
That’s the best news we know.
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Letters to the Editor
Ad Brings Bounties
Dear New Bay Times Weekly:
We really like your publication.
We have gotten more calls from our ad in New Bay Times Weekly than from any other ad.
Upper Marlboro, Md.
New Ties Disputed
Dear New Bay Times Weekly:
I was disappointed to see the recent Dock of the Bay feature, “Jones Intercable: New(t) Programming,” because of its blurring several issues related to my company and its business and political motives.
First, I would like to address the notion of Professor Gingrich’s college course as a media gift from Jones. This course is not a gift because Mind Extension University does not charge any of its affiliated universities. The arrangement ME/U has with Reinhardt College (from which ME/U airs the course live) is similar to the one ME/U has with 35 other colleges and universities on the network, such as George Washington University, University of Maryland University College and Penn State.
Mr. Gingrich’s opinions, like that of any other professor aired on ME/U, do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the network.
The story took the time to draw conclusions about Jones’ financial support of politicians. We have proudly supported many Republicans, but you failed to mention the many Democratic politicians we have supported. Additionally, no one at Jones has ever lobbied the speaker or any member of his staff.
The Jones family of companies is committed to the combination of education and technology. Making education accessible to a large number of individuals is our primary goal because we understand that a person who is out of the education process is also out of the economic process.
General Manager, Jones Intercable
Prince Frederick, Md.
Dear New Bay Times Weekly:
I enjoyed reading your Feb. 23 issue, starting with your thoughtful editorial on casino gambling in Maryland and continuing through the unique “Real Astrology” column and bountiful classifieds.
I think you’re doing a great service to the people of the Chesapeake.
Lawrence M. O’Rourke
Chevy Chase, Md.
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by Aloysia Hamalainen
It's shedding time!
Whatever the necessary juxtaposition of moon, sun, temperature or just plain winter weariness, Mom Nature decided its time to unzip.
To pop up. To fall out. To let go!
How is it that last week the old gray mare was looking slightly fuzzy and today seems downright grungy? We're talking yellow gray mare or muddy brown gray mare, who’s wearing an aura of bedragglement from the tips of the ears to the grimy end of a tail.
How about your dog friend? Just a little while ago, he was just shaggy; today when you run you hand down his back, you lift off magnetic black hairs. Clumps of matted softness lies on the rug where your buddy rolls. The back of the velvet chair is coated with fur from him passing behind it.
The felines in the family have devised yet another diabolical plot to make you look clumsy and disheveled. White cats streak to black sweaters; black cats curl around your pant legs. Both leave fluff that only industrial-strength packing tape will pull off. Better to have a sand-paper tongue.
This is just the beginning. Some daffodils are opening their bonnets, and only a few baby leaves sprout on the trees. Underneath the bleached wisps of grass appears a green tinge. The grinding gears of changing seasons is barely heard above the din of everyday hassles.
Grab the shedding blade and rake it across the dinginess on that old horse. At first you'll just get a few of the long hairs, the thick ones that stand up during the blizzards. Don't need those any more!
Pretty soon, in a week or so, the fluffy, downy stuff that insulates against below zero temperatures will, like magic, pull out and go right up your nose. Push down harder (boy, that feels good!) and a whole clump pulls away, revealing a pristine, shiny summer suit. While you sneeze and cough, little swallows and wrens swoop down and grab up these precious tufts.
Within the swelling buds and baby leaves, feathery armies are building perfect circles knit from twigs, bleached grass and sticks. Quick beaks push, pull and poke until a home that will withstand thunderstorms is crafted. Then to finish a comfy cradle for the tiny eggs.
Their sharp eyes spy interior decorating delights. White hair from Dorsaz on the bottom. How about a splash of black from Frankie with a smidgen of tan from Toby? The air above the barnyard is crazy with frantic bird bombardiers.
Humans are slower to react to Mom Nature's obvious signals. The customary wince against the bitter cold evaporates. Heads lift, backs straighten. Don't have to hunch down away from sharp winds. February, the longest month, is ripped off the wall. The sun is company on the trek home. Is it too early to think about summer sweat?
All of a sudden the down jackets and heavy coats seem incredibly heavy and stifling. Take 'em off! Tug out your jackets and pretty colors from the back of the closet. Leave your office lair at lunch time and let the sun beams get reacquainted with your face. That breeze had a balmy feel to it shake your hair!
The bullies of winter are melting to feed the gentle spring blossoms. Let the aggression that pushed you through the harsh days of winter melt as well. Take the time to stay outside for a while to witness the miracles of the rebirth. This time is a gift to learn from. The tremendous change all around us comes from a zillion efforts: Lots of little tiny hairs shed to uncover a fresh coat.
Aloysia Hamalainen last wrote for New Bay Times~Weekly readers of the kinship of animals. She leaves her office lair at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
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Time For A New “Contract with America?”
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest Won’t Stand for Truth-Gagging
Considering the status of politics, reading about Wayne Gilchrest, R-Eastern Shore, is like a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere where much stinks.
For once, I can say my man in Washington is doing what I want. I can brag he is a man of principle.
In an age when it appears politicians consider fish, wildlife, forests, refuges and natural resources as disposable, Gilchrest threatened to resign from a House Resources Committee task force reviewing the Endangered Species Act.
I only hope he doesn't step aside; a man like him is needed to protect something so vital to threatened species and the rest of our natural resources, including the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay. Yet there comes a time when emphatic dissent is called for.
The Source of Dissent
Gilchrest, a former Kent County school teacher and house painter, is upset at what he considers the Republican take-no-prisoners rush to dismantle environmental regulations. He is so upset that he has broken ranks with his fellow GOPers and said he'd rather quit the task force than play their kind of ball.
He doesn't think there is much fair in the way Republicans are holding congressional hearings on the Endangered Species Act in Maryland.
The chairman of the task force, Rep. Richard W. Pombo, R-Calif., refused to let Gilchrest invite scientists to testify about why rare plants and animals should be preserved. Pombo's actions are not to be unexpected; he is a rancher. The views of ranchers on environmental issues are akin to the thinking of timber, mining and power companies.
Gilchrest wants to call as witnesses scientists like highly regarded Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson and Atlanta Zoo director Terry Maple. But Pombo doesn't want hard facts.
Facts can derail the campaign of special interests. It's better to focus hearings on the stories of those who moan and groan with stories of personal losses because they can't develop, or sell to developers, fragile lands and wetlands vital to the welfare of the overall natural resources scheme in our case, Chesapeake Bay.
Hearings are more newsworthy, more impressive to the electorate when a politician can promote policy on the basis of false or anecdotal information. In Pombo’s hearing, it will show how some individual or special interest is suffering because Americans place priority on natural resources or the public good.
Red Tape vs. Red Herring?
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, showed us recently how false or misleading single cases are manipulated in policy decisions. Truth is swept aside in these days of sweeping change. Change is so quick that unknown and unintended consequences are possible if not probable.
Supposedly he Consumer Product Safety Commission required all buckets to have a hole in the bottom so water could flow through, thus avoiding the danger of drowning if a toddler falls face down into the container.
Of course, talk of such a silly regulation makes the news. It subjects the commission to ridicule and makes those who want to toss out regulations seem to be saving us from unreasonable harassment. Only one trouble: Never has there been such a stupid regulation.
In their haste to live up to the “Contract With America” 100-day deadline,which ends next month, too many politicians are ready to toss in a few white lies to help the cause. If it takes a big lie, why not go that route? If it takes gagging the truth, why not?
Thankfully, we have some legislators like Wayne Gilchrest who realize some of us didn't vote for the Contract With America in mind. We voted for a change of faces, downsized government, more fiscal responsibility and more representative government.
We didn't vote to toss the baby out with the bath water, and many of those who are trying to do so and they are on both sides of the aisle should realize that in less than two years we will vote again. There must be some politicians who believe in both fiscal responsibility and the value of our natural resources.
There must be other politicians like Wayne Gilchrest, willing to buck the system, politicians unafraid to thumb their noses at special interest groups, politicians willing to vote their conscience, and politicians who realize their constituents appreciate straight talk, integrity and good government. But we don’t see much of them.
Gilchrest has slowed the Contract With America down, for the moment at least. After being spurned by House Resources Committee leaders, he appealed directly to Newt, who intervened (my mother always said there is a little good in the worst of us). Now a congressional hearing tentatively scheduled for March 27 at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel has been delayed.
Pombo defended his witness selection process by saying the committee wanted to hear from "local people," not "self-anointed experts." On the surface that might sound reasonable. But Gilchrest reminds us it isn't reasonable to legislate on the basis of anecdotes, many of which involve property owners ruined by federal red tape and many of which don't hold up when checked out.
Gilchrest recognizes that there has been some overzealous implementation and the Endangered Species Act could be more flexible. But wholesale changes in the 22-year-old law are not necessary.
What We Need Today Is a CCWA
It now appears that Newt has agreed that expert scientific testimony would be allowed in a hearing on the shores of the Chesapeake, and our congressman is considering whether he wants the hearing, which could be in May.
As for his continued presence on the task force, he's staying for the present. If further resistance develops, he says: "I'm out of here."
But he's not dropping out of the fight. Gilchrest has promised a campaign to educate fellow lawmakers on the value of preserving rare species. He has written 40 members, both Democrats and Republicans, to join him in a bipartisan coalition to promote moderate changes in the law.
Here’s a simplified scenario of what might happen under proposed wetlands compensation programs. Someone knocks on the door of my home on Stoney Creek and offers me five times what it's worth to develop a large sand pit on my three lots. Naturally, the potential buyer couldn't get the necessary permits. Nor could I if I did it on my own. So I’d be entitled to demand compensation.
Hey that's not a bad idea. I'd get the money, the creek still wouldn't carry sediments and other pollutants towards the Chesapeake. Then I'd sell the property to someone else at an inflated price so the process could be duplicated … and so on.
Ridiculous? Sure. But so is much of the Contract With America's drive to destroy many of the commendable regulations fostered by the maligned EPA, FDA and other watchdog agencies.
Maybe we ought to have a CCWA. That's Common Sense Contract With America.
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Togetherness is the theme these warm sunny days.
From kitchen’s winter window, I’ve often watched a lone waterman at work on his land-locked crab boat. Now with the sun, other crabbers have arrived. The men stand in twos and threes drinking from styrofoam cups gesturing, laughing, getting in gear for the hard work of the coming season. Getting ready to return to the water.
In the yard, birds gather pairs of bright cardinals, flocks of handsome aggressive grackles, sparrows as interested in dried grasses for nesting as in fattening with seed. Out along the Bay, kingfishers whir and click like small mechanical machines, wings flailing whirly-gig fashion, to draw me away from their nesting hole high up in the clay cliff wall.
Farther along the cliff’s edge, a trio of girls, expecting the day to be as warm as its brilliant sun, shiver together under a stray plastic sheet. Finally they run giggling home for the more certain warmth of jackets and long pants.
Out across the water, sailboats run in pairs crossing turquoise sails with white for a long moment’s vision.
On Friday, along the edge of the salt marsh, we note that tundra swans have flown with the latest full moon. With their departure, a pair of mute swans takes possession of the marsh lake. Now, our attention is caught by movement in the water just off the road. Mute swans are mating, he on she. Then, quick as looking, they’re side by side, rubbing arched neck against arched neck. As quickly, they’re now back to scouring the watery brine for food.
Sunday, on the verge of the sun-warmed road, hundreds of beetles frolic. A closer look makes us laugh. This mating is not like any we’ve seen before. Two red-marked black beetles seem attached, end to end. The larger one runs onward through grass and branch seemingly oblivious to the other running as fast backwards. This is not an isolated case. Pairs of beetles are everywhere one running forward, the other backward. From time to time, a third beetle jumps on top in a spring riot of togetherness.
Farther down the road, tadpoles flourish in rust-colored water scummed with auto oils. A muskrat swims hurriedly up the ditch, running into his hole panic-stricken as we step up our pace. His companion splashes out of a deeper puddle into the next hole.
Neighbors wave and visit, wondering who’s had a glimpse of the two newest neighborhood babies. Horses nuzzle. Is it the new foal in the next pasture they’re nickering over?
Dogs linger over scents of others’ passing: a walk is a slow event in this season when even scents mingle.
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The White Stuff
If you listed the world’s least harmful, most useful household ingredients, baking soda would likely top the list.
So I was glad to learn of a handy new 108-page paperback, aptly titled “Baking Soda.” It promises “over 500 fabulous, fun, and frugal uses you’ve probably never thought of.”
What’s so great about baking soda? Why is it so versatile? First, some background.
Most baking soda is derived from a mineral left behind after the evaporation of a lake in Wyoming some 50 million years ago. The mined mineral is converted and purified into baking soda.
The components of baking soda bicarbonate and sodium ions are present in significant concentrations in the human body. Bicarbonate helps maintain proper acid/base balance in the blood, stomach and saliva. Sodium plays a key role in the body’s functioning.
Baking soda works its magic in a number of ways. It is mildly abrasive. In addition, it neutralizes acids in the form of bad smells in your refrigerator, grease spots on your clothes, or the acid in mosquito venom that causes us to itch when bitten.
Oh yes, baking soda can also be used for baking.
Because its unique properties and benign environmental impact, baking soda provides effective, economical and ecological alternatives to many household cleaning chores, from removing scuff marks from linoleum floors to rinsing hair spray and shampoo buildup from hair and hairbrushes. You can even keep a box in your car’s glove compartment for use as an engine fire extinguisher.
Other uses you might not have thought of:
• Return babies’ white shoes to their original luster by cleaning and polishing them with baking soda on a damp wash cloth.
• Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to your dog’s bath water and rinse water for a soft and shiny coat.
• Keep carpenter ants, silverfish and roaches from invading by laying down a barrier of baking soda under sink-pipe openings and along basement windows.
• Make your car smell good again by sprinkling baking soda on fabric seats and carpets. Then vacuum it up.
• Coat a clay pot with a thin layer of baking soda when transplanting plants, before adding the soil. This helps keep the dirt fresh longer.
• Sprinkle baking soda between the pages of an old book that has become damp or must-smelling. It will soon smell like new.
I could go on the book does. The book, like its namesake ingredient, may prove to be one of the handiest, and greenest, things you own.
“Baking Soda,” the book, is available in bookstores for $6.95 plus shipping from the publisher, Book Peddlers: 800/255-3379.
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