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School band flagged for inauguration

(ran EO edition)

The East Lake High School marching band will parade up Monroe Street in Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon, past a former president, a former first lady, a Texas governor and Florida's newly elected governor.

It's Gov.-elect Jeb Bush's inaugural parade, and the East Lake High School Silver Sound Band is one of only 28 Florida bands invited to perform.

"Each campaign person got to choose one group from their area (to invite)," said Daniel "Chip" Wood, the band's director. "Jan Renke, the North Pinellas vice chairman for the Bush campaign, she called the school. She asked if we would represent the area."

Wood said the East Lake High band is the only band from North Pinellas County to be invited to the event.

"Boca Ciega High is going up," he said, referring to the school in Gulfport. "(We) are the only two from the Tampa Bay area. There is one from Sarasota and one from Inverness."

The parade snaking up the street will be a string of 89 or 90 floats and marching bands. It will be watched by former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, and by Jeb Bush's older brother, George, the governor of Texas.

Thinking of the occasion, Wood selected two different songs: To Tame The Perilous Skies, borrowed from the band's field show, and Patriots On Parade, written for a band that performed during the Clinton inauguration.

"It's got themes from Shenandoah and some other patriotic music," Wood said.

Because of the school's winter break, the band members are scattered, vacationing away from home and making a long parade preparation impossible.

"It's tough because of the holiday break. They're everywhere, overseas, up north," Wood said. "(We'll get) two days of practice. Some of the music they already know."

The students will have a long day ahead of them: They must travel to Tallahassee, play their songs and turn around and come home. Spending the night, it seems, is not an option. Most of the hotels around the capital are booked solid, and rooms available in surrounding towns are going for astronomical rates.

Wood said that although the transportation is being paid for by the School Board, hotel rooms are another matter altogether. Because the band boosters are raising money for a trip to France for a performance there, no money can be squandered. So a quick bus trip is all that is scheduled.

"We have to leave at 5:30 a.m. It's a 5{-hour drive," Wood said. "The parade starts at 1 p.m. It will end at about 3 p.m. Then they'll go to street parties and get a taste of the political side of it."

The teens, Wood, a cluster of parents and chaperons will tour the Capitol and see some of the sights.

"For the kids it will be nice," Wood said. "It will be neat for them to see a former president live."

And getting a good look at Tallahassee will be fun for the seniors who will be going to school in the city next year.

"Quite a few kids in the band are going to FSU," Wood said.

Bush's inaugural committee did not fax Wood a map of the procession. But they shouldn't have much trouble figuring out the route.

"We're toward the latter part of the parade, maybe in the 60s (slot)," said Wood, who said this is his first inauguration.

The experience, he said, will make an exquisite addition to the band's list of accomplishments. And it may help it get into a more famous parade, one with floating cartoon characters.

"It's a good resume-builder if you apply for Macy's parade," he said.

Little League sign-up

deadline is today

Since East Lake Little League baseball tryouts officially begin Saturday, it should be no surprise that organizers are anxiously watching their calendars, counting down the days until the season starts and urging parents to please sign their kids up now, today.

Today is the last official registration day. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Publix at Brooker Creek, and simply showing up is the easiest way to register your child to play ball. First-time players must bring a copy of their birth certificates. Former players need only fill out a form.

Since Friday, a $20 late fee has been tacked on to the normal registration fee of $100. If you have more than one child in the family who will be playing, however, $10 for each one will be subtracted from the total family registration cost.

If you can't make it to Publix today, you can pick up a form at Creative Sports Enterprises at 36115 East Lake Road, or Pool & Spa Depot, 2427 Sandy Point Road in Palm Harbor, and mail it to: P.O. Box 4866, Palm Harbor, FL 34685. For information, call Karen or David Root at (727) 934-1180.

Tryouts for girls and boys ages 13 through 16 are scheduled for Saturday. Tryouts for players 10 through 12 will be Jan. 16.

The season's opening day will be Feb. 20.

East Lake Key Club helps

children from hospice

It was a rewarding holiday for some Key Club members at East Lake High School. When they opened their Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, they could be sure a small child somewhere nearby who recently had to learn hard lessons about death was doing the same thing, thanks to their efforts.

Twenty Key Club members spent a few weeks soliciting Christmas cash from their fellow classmates and their teachers to supply holiday gifts to children who are helped by the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

They roamed the hallways for two weeks before their holiday break, with decorated cans in hand, asking students to make donations to be distributed to the children in the form of gift certificates.

It turns out the students were only too happy to give. The Key Club ended up collecting $1,100.

It was Michelle Westhoefer's idea. The 16-year-old junior is the president of the Key Club this year and spends a good amount of spare time volunteering for Hospice's Children and Family Program.

She said she realized as holiday time approached that along with lots of emotional support, the children needed something else to make their Christmas less melancholy and more bearable: toys.

Many of the families served by the Hospice are struggling to pay seemingly endless medical bills, and didn't have much money left over for extras like Christmas or Hanukkah presents.

The club members did most of their work between classes, stopping students in the hallways and giving them the sales pitch, hoping to hear the plink of at least 50 cents being dropped in the can. At lunchtime in the cafeteria, the students were sitting ducks, targeted for solicitation. But they didn't seem to mind.

"A lot of kids were willing to (donate)," Westhoefer said. "They gave whatever money they had left over from lunch."

Family Psychology Associates of Clearwater and Tampa Armature Works also contributed to the cause.

Once the group collected the cash, they decided to buy gift certificates at Target and Toys "R" Us stores because a school rule prevents them from simply handing out checks.

This year's holiday project is unlike any other the Key Club has tackled. They usually sing in nursing homes during the holidays.

"Because we don't have enough people to make a good chorus, we thought this would be a good idea," Westhoefer said.

She thinks the club members will agree to do it again next year.

_ We need news for this East Lake column. If you have news about East Lake organizations, churches, schools, neighborhoods or residents, please contact Eileen Schulte at the North Pinellas Times. You may call her at (727) 445-4229, fax material to her at (727) 445-4206 or mail it to the North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL, 34684.

Image of health

Katie Forczek's image is reflected in a mirror Wednesday as she works out in the gym at the YMCA of North Pinellas. Forczek said she was trying to stay in shape while on break from Auburn University during the holidays.