Lanham School Ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies for 38 students from the Community-Based Classroom, an alternative high school in Lanham that barely survived budget cuts this year, were last week at Newton White Mansion in Mitchellville. About 200 attended.

"These students just persevere and persevere," said Susan Bailey, a career trainer at the school. "We're so in love with these kids, we got very choked up watching them graduate."

The school provides night classes for students who have dropped out of high school and want to get their diplomas while working. Career training is emphasized at the school, which has granted nearly 450 diplomas since it opened 10 years ago.

The Prince George's Board of Education considered eliminating the school during budget negotiations in May and June, but teachers, students and parents from the school successfully pleaded their case, saving the school.

--Mary Louise Schumacher

GLENARDEN

Street Light Settlement Near

A majority of the seven Glenarden City Council members appears close to forging an agreement to have the city pay some past and all future electric bills for street lights in the Barlowe Ridge section.

"We are coming up with a good resolution," said City Council member Sheila Woodson, who said the majority of the council informally decided last week to pay the bills. "This has been going back and forth for a year. It is really time to come to a closure."

About $5,000 in charges from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. have accrued since the beginning of the year while the city and some homeowners in Barlowe Ridge debated who should pay.

The city installed the lights, but they are on private property in Barlowe Ridge. However, County Council member Marvin F. Wilson (D), a former mayor of Glenarden, said he promised the homeowners in 1995 that all future outdoor light bills would be paid.

Wilson made that agreement as a means of inducing the residents of Barlowe Ridge to become part of Glenarden as it expanded from a town to a city.

All households in Glenarden are taxed $62 a year for city-installed street lights, but the 200 or so units in Barlowe Ridge use only 15 nearby city lights, Wilson said.

Members of the Glenarden council and the two homeowners associations in Barlowe Ridge are to meet privately this week to try to resolve the dispute.

At least four of the seven City Council members are willing to agree that the city make the payments indefinitely, Woodson said. If an agreement is reached, a formal vote would solidify the deal next month.

The issue became a hot topic this year when Mayor Donjuan Williams decided to stop payments to BGE and try to compel residents to repay about $30,000 for electric bills paid since Wilson made the agreement.

Williams would not discuss the issue. "I will not talk about this," he said. "I have no comment."

If the issue is not resolved soon, the homeowners associations will consider legal action, said Susie Fenner, vice president of the Frost Subdivision Home Owners Association in Barlowe Ridge.

"I am hoping we don't have to take the course of a lawsuit," Fenner said. "It's still a question mark with me."

-- Mary Louise Schumacher

BELTSVILLE

A Night Out

Some people came for the free burgers. Others wanted to jump in the moon bounce, climb on the firetrucks, pet horses, play basketball. But they all shared one underlying purpose: to learn more about law enforcement and how to cut down on crime.

About 500 people strolled through the parkland near the Beltsville Library for National Night Out Against Crime last week, eating, drinking, schmoozing with police and checking out educational displays.

Several communities--Beltsville, District Heights and Upper Marlboro, among others--sponsored activities for Night Out, a nationwide event of block parties, cookouts and parades to promote better relationships between the police and the community.

Pat Jumbelick, a Library of Congress employee from Beltsville, said she brought her daughter Grace, 6, to Night Out to socialize with other children, see a firetruck up close and, most importantly, to get to know the police officers and firefighters in her neighborhood.

"I just want her to be comfortable around police officers and to know that these officials are friendly and can help you," Jumbelick said.

Meanwhile, Grace was having a ball sitting in the driver's seat of a huge red fire engine. But that didn't hold her attention for long. Within seconds of making an imaginary left turn, she began to scream, "Moon bounce! Moon bounce!"

"Okay, okay," her mother said, helping her out of the truck.

Jaclyn Trujillo, 5, was on her way out of the moon bounce when Capt. Gary Corso, the Prince George's County police officer who was one of the major organizers of the evening's events, caught her eye.

"Are you a policeman?" Jaclyn asked, her eyes wide with wonder.

"Yes, I am," Corso replied. "Would you like a coupon for a free 7-Eleven Slurpee?"

Then Jaclyn and all her playmates crowded around Corso. He had made fast friends.

And that was the point.

"This is a nice way to meet everyone in a non-adversarial way. It's really pleasant," Corso said. "And the most enjoyable aspect of it is giving away Slurpee coupons!"

But there is a more serious side to Night Out. At the Beltsville block party, police set up a display of charts containing crime statistics by neighborhood and type. Most of the adults who weren't in line for burgers were huddled around the charts.

"It lets people know what crime is in their neighborhood so they can assist us in helping to fight these problems," Corso said.

Residents also had a chance at Night Out to register their automobiles in the "Watch Your Car" program, which uses police-issued stickers to help identify cars and cut down on auto theft.

Organizers said Night Out gets bigger every year.

After getting a big hug from McGruff the Crime Dog, Brandon Taylor, 5, of Laurel, offered up a smile that said he was having a really good time at the event.

-- Susan Saulny

If you have an item for Prince George's Towns, please let us know. Susan Saulny coordinates the coverage. She can be reached at 301-952-2036; e-mail to saulnys@washpost.com; or write to Prince George's Towns, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md., 20772.

CAPTION: Steven Telesford hugs Susan Bailey after receiving his high school diploma.

CAPTION: Tarronda Moody adjusts her cap before the start of the graduation ceremony for the Community-Based Classroom.

CAPTION: Brandon Taylor, 5, of Laurel, gets a hug from McGruff the Crime Dog during National Night Out Against Crime events in Beltsville.