A giant bumblebee buzzing around Los Angeles grade schools this summer is attacking children who play with matches. But the kids love him and his traveling troupe of performers, the Bee-Team, whose motto is "Take the sting out of fire."
"Kids learn through drama," said Scherr L. Lillico, director of communications for the Institute for Fire and Burn Education, which sponsors the program. "One little girl wrote us saying, 'I'm going to make my mom put a smoke detector in my room.' That is exactly what we are after."
The five-foot black and yellow bee, sporting a red firefighter's hat and firefighter's boots, is the mascot for the Los Angeles-based national institute funded by independent insurance agencies. Five actors present a play, "The Careless Boy" to kindergarten through sixth-grade students and encourage them to join the Bee-Team. The play is free to schools and membership in the Bee-Team is free as well.
In order to join, children must pledge to obey seven fire safety and burn prevention Bee laws. They receive three follow-up mailings--certificates, activity books and stickers as reminders. Summer is an especially dangerous time for youngsters because of barbecuing and campfires and because children have more free time, Lillico said.
"Lots of children go home and both parents are working. Older children are watching young ones. It could happen in any home," said Beatrice LaPisto, categorical program adviser at Loreto Elementary School, a year-round Los Angeles school where the troupe performed last week.
In a Class With Adults
Rodney S. Atamian, 17, from Fresno is looking forward to his senior year at Clovis West High School next year, a year filled with basketball and baseball games, the senior prom--and school board meetings. He has been appointed to the State Board of Education by Gov. Deukmejian.
"It's kind of different. I'm going to wake up in the morning, put on my suit, pick up my briefcase and head out on the streets of Sacramento," Atamian said. "It's an adult world with no other people my age."
Atamian got a taste of what lies ahead when he observed a meeting this month. He will begin his one-year term Aug. 1 when he will become a regular voting member of the board. The position requires a great deal of time--to read the agenda and keep up with issues and to attend speaking engagements, conferences and workshops, in addition to two meetings a month.
"It is tough for a student. It takes a year to get experience and they only have a year," said Ellis Bowman, executive director of the State Board of Education. "There will be a great demand on his time. He will have to decide which things he can do."
Atamian may forgo a place on the basketball team next year. He said he would have to fly to Sacramento after Wednesday night's game for Thursday morning meetings and leave immediately after the meeting Friday afternoon to make the game that night. "It's OK though, because I'm not a superstar or anything," Atamian said.
Board members receive $50 for every official day and per-diem expenses. A student has been on the board since 1969, but has been a voting member only since 1983. California is one of three states that has a student member on its state board who is allowed a vote. The position gives the board the perspective of a student, Bowman said. "I think the advantages of being on the board will outweigh the disadvantages," Atamian said. "I hope I'll still be saying that in June." Canine Caper
More havoc than usual reigned on the San Diego Freeway near Century Boulevard last Thursday afternoon when a woman saw a dog dodging traffic. Jennifer Ogle, Newport Beach, screeched to a halt near the divider and headed out to rescue the frantic pit bull. The dog high-tailed it down the freeway, and jumped over the divider when the driver of a red sports car tried to herd the dog with his car.
After getting hit twice and biting her angel of mercy, the dog was subdued with assistance from other good Samaritans, a blanket and ropes. Ogle got the dog in her car and headed for a hospital.
Ogle then went to the Sherman Oaks Veterinary Clinic where she had taken her two dogs in the past and the clinic took the wounded animal after Ogle gave them a $100 deposit she borrowed from a friend. The 6-month-old female received extensive orthopedic surgery, getting pins in one leg that was broken in two places.
"The fact that it was such a cute little dog kind of broke our hearts," said Jan Crivier, the clinic's office manager. "She's doing super." Crivier said the bill should have been about $850 but the doctor reduced it to $600 because of the circumstances. Ogle has lined up about $100 from animal assistance groups, but still owes about $500, plus after-care.
"I have $20 to my name right now," said Ogle, 30, who will take the dog if the owner cannot be found. "My mother yelled at me for running out on the freeway, but at a time like that you just don't think."
A Jolly Good Fergie
If Coronado can't go to the royal wedding, the wedding will go to Coronado. On Wednesday, Morris Antiques in Coronado, across the bridge from San Diego, will become the Fergie Arms in honor of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew.
"Coronado won't know what's hit them," said Rosina Berman, spokesperson for the event. "It will never be the same. They will have to change their name to Coventry-by-the-Sea."
The antique shop--at 386 Orange St.--will provide the best in British traditions, becoming a combination high-brow English tea room and a pub. Besides a big-screen showing of the royal wedding, which will have taken place that day, the highlight of the event will be a Princess Fergie look-alike contest. Applicants should have "red hair, be assertive, jolly and lucky," Berman said.
The event will be held during traditional English teatime--4 to 7 p.m. and cucumber sandwiches will be served. Prizes will include dart boards, antique jewelry and Marksman beer T-shirts.