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Learning is fun at this college

While older students are celebrating graduations, hundreds of children, ages 6 to 12, are beginning their college careers. They aren't becoming Gators or Seminoles. They are in the 1993 class of College for Kids, a summer program offered by St. Petersburg Junior College.

The 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. program is offered at seven sites weekdays throughout Pinellas County. In St. Petersburg, Shore Acres and Northwest elementary schools host the activities.

The best part is that College for Kids is open to all children, not just gifted or special pupils. It's called college because activities are geared toward learning in addition to being fun.

Program themes change weekly and vary with location. Generally, they include science, physical education, math, social studies, drama, art, cooking and foreign language. Educational subjects are well disguised as "What a Blast," "Pop Bottle Rockets," "Sensational Scooters," "Navigate the Mississippi River on a Riverboat" and "How's Your Haiku?"

Admission to this college is even easy! Call SPJC at 341-4448 for an application, select a site and the weeks you want your child to attend and send in the weekly $49 fee. A one-time $20 will cover processing and your child's 1993 College for Kids T-shirt. Extended care is available.

Let's just hope these kids can get into college this easily when they graduate from high school!

They say you're never too old to learn. Maybe we should listen more carefully to third-graders from Holy Family School who recently responded to our column on marble shooting.

Their teacher, Patricia M. Bridge, said, "After reading your article on marbles, I was reminded of the simplicity of my own childhood. I remembered playing marbles, hide-and-seek, jump rope and softball. I am pleased to say that many children today still find value in such activities."

Mrs. Bridge asked her class to write about some of their favorite places. The first response that came to this reporter's mind was Walt Disney World. See how that compared to the following third graders' responses.

Heather Samuelson wrote, "One of my favorite places is on a tree branch in my yard. I like it because I feel cozy and Jon (her brother) can't find me."

Montreal "where it snows a lot" is the place Jamie McKean picked. "I stay at my grandma's house, and she always has a cake ready for me."

"One of my favorite places is outside," Karin Snider wrote. There are "so many bright colors" and "it's fresh and beautiful." Aubrey Amadio also chose outside because "it is quiet."

Amy Maher's favorite place is the park. "I like to jump off the swings. But the thing I like to do best is feed the ducks."

Kim Bresler chose her room where she can hold her cat. Stephanie Mickie said her walk-in closet is "my quiet, thinking place."

In this age of burnout, stress, organized activities and high-speed computers, maybe we should take a lesson from children and choose a "quiet, thinking place" for ourselves. Why not visit your neighborhood park today and "jump off the swings!"

The time was 7 p.m. The place, a street corner in St. Petersburg not far from known drug dealers. The occasion, the neighborly presentation of orange caps to a resident crime-fighting unit.

June 11 marked a new day in the history of St. Petersburg. What could be viewed as a simple gesture of buying some orange caps turned into an extraordinary display of cooperation between neighborhoods.

You might recall reading in this column that Tom Lampley, president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, said his members were ready to tell drug dealers, "Don't do it on my street." Residents had begun surveillance of known drug hot spots in their area with the goal of forcing dealers to relocate or give up their business.

The neighborhood group sought a sponsor to donate orange caps. The caps would send a message to others that it was time to "stand up and be counted," Lampley said.

Surprisingly enough, the sponsor who came forward was another neighborhood association. Uptown Neighborhood Inc. president Wayne Atherholt said, "I read about it in your column and decided it would be a neat thing for us to help them with. We had some extra money available and could sympathize with what they were trying to do."

Joining Atherholt to present the caps were seven other Uptown residents including all the association officers. Mayor David Fischer, police Chief Darrel Stephens and Palmetto Park community police Officer Kevin Johnson also witnessed the neighborly exchange.

Said resident Armanda Lampley: "We just want to thank Uptown, the chief of police, the mayor and Kevin Johnson. We appreciate that Uptown saw the need in the paper, recognized the need and responded to it. Uptown broke down all barriers and boundaries by coming to our neighborhood. They did it from the heart, not for the publicity. They are the veterans, and we look forward to working with them."

After Childs Park residents graciously accepted and donned their orange caps, they began their drug-busting patrol.

What a sight. The mayor, the chief of police, Uptown neighbors and Childs Park neighbors marching down the sidewalks together to send a community message to all drug dealers: "Don't do it on my street."

Congratulations, good neighbors!

To tell us good news about your neighborhood, call 898-0019, category 8930.

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