An Old Grad Polishes an Apple or Two

President Bush, who must be doing his homework, faced a room full of 53 educators and wasn't sent to the blackboard once. In a White House ceremony, Bush saluted the outstanding 53 teachers selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities for a year of independent study in their respective fields, and even got a few laughs from the bunch. "When I read about the subjects you'll be studying next fall I had two feelings--one respect, and the other delight that I already graduated," quipped Bush, who has vowed to be the "education President." "I'm flattered to be in the company of the most important members of the most important profession." The teachers, one from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, were selected from 615 applicants and will receive grants of up to $27,500.

--Has the mutt become a couch potato? Sherry Wall of Brown Deer, Wis., is exhorting dog owners to pay the same attention to their canines' fitness as they do to their Jane Fonda tapes. Wall, a veterinary technician, has received dozens of calls since she began advertising her aerobic exercise course that includes doggy push-ups and sit-ups. Soon she will be pushing the pooches to feel the burn in regular classes at a suburban Milwaukee shopping mall. The desired result? A dog-tired dog. Can quadruped aerobics shoes from Reebok be far behind?

--Her babies come into the world with a strike against them. But that doesn't daunt Clara Hale, who has taken in and nurtured more than 600 drug-addicted babies at her Hale House in New York City. In recognition of her work with the infants, born chemically dependent because of their mothers' addiction, Hale, 83, has been named the 1989 winner of the Truman Award for Public Service. As a foster parent, Hale raised more than 40 children in Harlem from 1941 to 1968. The following year, she took in her first addicted baby. The Hale House provides a temporary home for the children, who are usually reunited with their mothers after the parent has undergone drug rehabilitation.

--The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, one of the more eclectic repositories of the noteworthy, acquired 466,181 items last year, including jazzman Buddy Rich's drums, a 12.3-pound golden-yellow topaz and the complete skeleton of a shark from Kansas. The acquisitions joined the Smithsonian's collection of 134 million objects, most of them scientific specimens housed in the National Museum of Natural History for study by researchers. One of the more unusual items was the Kansas shark skeleton, which dated from a time when the state was submerged by ocean waters between 65 million and 100 million years ago, said Dr. Nicholas Hotton, a research curator at the Natural History Museum. Also finding shelf space in the collection were bumper stickers, posters and lapel buttons from the 1988 Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, and the skulls and skins of five wombats, the small bear-like creatures of Tasmania.

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