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Youngsters make a good audience

Jambo Habari Ghani, my people! (Hello, what news? in Swahili)

And to all my friends at Pinellas Park Elementary School, "What's up?"

Last week Sarah Rowley, volunteer coordinator for Pinellas Park Elementary, invited me to talk to some pupils as part of its Black History Month celebration.

As much as I like to talk, I really tried to find a way to say no. It isn't that I am uninformed or lack knowledge on the subject. But public speaking without the rest of my family is not something I have experience in.

I eventually consented, and chicken that I am, I took my son Sydney along for support. Well to tell the truth, Sydney was a huge success. He charmed the children with his rendition of a rap called Stay in School. As for me, well, let's just say they did not throw any rotten eggs or tomatoes.

The children were without exception terrific. They were so attentive and eager to hear what I had to say that I felt inadequate to deliver enough information to them. One thing is certain, I am a much better writer than speaker.

Principal Joyce Johnson and most of the teachers were friendly and genuinely seemed glad that we came. But the thought of speaking in front of an audience again alone or as myself instead of portraying a character is so disturbing to me that I am praying daily that the experience will not come my way anytime soon. Harambee.

The PTA Board and teachers and administrators of Cross Bayou Elementary School will have its third annual southside PTA meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at Bethel Community Baptist Church, 1045 16th St. S, St. Petersburg. Parent/teacher conferences will be available. Pizza and soft drinks will be served.

Attallah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, will speak at 8 p.m. today in the Dendy McNair Auditorium at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Av. S St. Petersburg. Her subject is "Malcolm X: The Man and Father away from the Podium." The program is free and open to the public. For information, call 864-8297.

Teen Art, Sports and Cultural Opportunities (TASCO) and the city of St. Petersburg Recreation Department will sponsor the fifth annual Valentine's Day Dance, from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday. The dance will be at the University of South Florida activity center, 140 Seventh Ave. S., St. Petersburg. Entertainment will be provided by rap group 3BOK and a disc jockey. Cash prizes will be awarded for the best dancers. Tickets are $2 for teens and are sold at all recreation centers.

A new tutorial program for high school math is being started at the Sanderlin Center, 2335 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. The program, called "Math No Problem," is being coordinated by Eckerd College instructor Jerry Junivicus. A short introductory meeting for students and parents will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the center. For information, call 864-0424 or 321-8411.

The St. Petersburg Masonic Lodge 109 invites the public and all Prince Hall members and their families to worship Sunday at 11 a.m. at St. Mark M.B. Church, 1301 37th St. S, St. Petersburg. All Masonic members are asked to come in full regalia and be at the church by 10:30 a.m.

The St. Petersburg Junior College Center of Excellence is having its winter induction ceremony for the McKnight Achievers Society, at 4 p.m. Sunday at Bethel Community Baptist Church, 1045 16th St. S, St. Petersburg. The inductees are Jeremiah and Shaquan Chambliss, Tashyra Cobb, Chandra Gore, Sheena Lofton, Renitta and April Shannon, Nathan Tindall and Antorrio Williams. The public is invited to attend.

Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church, 3455 26th Ave. S, St. Petersburg, is having a reception to honor 10 members who have given a combined 365 years of service to the church. The reception is semiformal and will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Hilton and Tower, 333 First St. S. Everyone is welcome.

The Missionary Society of Bethel Community Baptist Church, 1045 16th St. S, St. Petersburg, will have its Valentine's Day Tea, from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the church's fellowship hall. Everyone is invited.

James Horton will discuss "The Ethics of Race and Gender: Historical Commentary on a Contemporary Problem," at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the University of South Florida Activities Center, 140 Seventh Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Horton is a professor of history and American Studies at George Washington University, in Washington, D.

C. The lecture, which will be preceded by a reception beginning at 6 p.m., is free and open to the public.

The Exchange Club of West St. Petersburg will present the 34th annual Makala Academic Sports Banquet at Las Fontanas Restaurant 15481 49th St. N. University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier will be the guest speaker. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, with a social hour and dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. For information, call Hersch Bagby, 577-3123.

John Holman, professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa and author of Squabble and Other Stories will read from his book at St. Petersburg Junior College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Holman will talk from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. Wednesday in Room 206 of the Social Arts Building.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 2025 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg, will have a Faith Revival, Sunday through Wednesday. The services will start at 7 each night with Father James Goode of San Francisco as the guest speaker. The public is invited.

The Wildwood Recreation Center, 2650 10th Ave. S, St. Petersburg, is looking for contestants to compete in its Miss Wildwood 1992 beauty pageant. The entry deadline for the Junior Miss Pageant, ages 8-12, is Friday and the entry deadline for the Miss Wildwood Pageant, ages 13-17, is Feb. 21. Contestants will compete in five categories: question and answer, talent, sportswear, causal wear and evening wear. All winners will receive trophies, gift certificates and beauty services and products. For information, call 893-7750.

The Cradle of Wisdom comes from the Ibo ethnic group: The streets won't buy your children if the home won't sell them.