Edward Charles Jagers Jr. had heart trouble from the day he was born, but it never slowed him down. The Marlow Heights boy begged his mother for permission to mow the lawn, he made the school honor roll regularly and he played video games and operated remote control race cars.
His motto was, "Make an effort, not an excuse."
Edward died on May 21, 1998, of complications from the common atrium condition from which he suffered, a condition in which blood cells did not get enough oxygen, creating a low heart rate and lethargy. He was 11.
Now, his parents are creating a scholarship in his memory at his school, From the Heart Church, a Baptist private school in Marlow Heights.
"The scholarship will be for those who exhibit the same zeal for learning," said Edward Jagers Sr. "He had thirst for knowledge and zest for life. In one class, he had to write an essay on who he would want to be if he could. He said, 'I want to be myself because God made me as this, and besides, I have a good life.' I felt better because I had not heard his feelings expressed before that, and I often wondered what he thought of his existence."
Edward wore a pacemaker on his heart and was told by doctors to avoid strenuous activities. He defied predictions by some doctors and lived longer than they had expected.
He died suddenly, shortly after participating in a class field day. He had won ribbons in some events, his father said, and was last heard by a teacher saying, "Let's go spread the good news."
His parents hope the scholarship will help others learn about Edward and the type of heart condition he had.
"I was almost in denial that he was sick," said his aunt, Alice McFarland. "He was such a normal little kid."
The school will host a fund-raising event Sunday. Anyone interested in donating to the fund can call Edward Jagers Sr. at 301-925-2176 or Carolyn Jagers at 301-422-1218.
Kindergarten Crowd No More
Help has arrived at Flintstone Elementary School in Oxon Hill, where teachers and parents had complained to the county's Board of Education three weeks ago that the school was so crowded that one kindergarten class had 47 students.
Two additional classroom trailers--in addition to the four already there--have been installed behind the school, allowing the kindergarten class to be divided into two units of 23 and 24 students.
Other pressing issues at the school remain unanswered. Several other schools in the county are complaining of crowded classrooms. The problem is that County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) has issued a moratorium on buying any more $35,000 trailers so that all construction funds can be devoted to the new buildings.
So, officials said, they are scrambling to move some of the system's 420 trailers from less crowded to more crowded schools. It's a stopgap measure that is complicated by the fact that 40,000 of the district's 133,000 students switched schools this year because of boundary changes or other reasons.
Superintendent Iris T. Metts has ordered a study to find out which schools are most in need of additional trailers and which can most afford to give up some.
The study is underway, said Tony Liberatore, the school system's supervisor of support services, and some decisions could be made this week or next.
"We'll be dealing with this for quite a while," he said. "We'll come up with a definitive policy about how they are distributed. [The trailers] are all being used. That's why we're proceeding very carefully."