From Snakes to Skates, Some Topics Never Die


The old saying, "Yesterday's newspaper is only good for wrapping fish," is not always true.

Some news stays news.

The person who invented the refrigerator magnet certainly had noticed that people clip and save news items for future consideration.

So was there any news reported in this year's For Kids column that will continue to attract interest in 1997? Topics such as schools, skating (on ice or boards or in-line), screens (TV or computer) and even snakes stay in the minds of many young people year in and year out.

Here are a few updates on activities in the county that might continue to interest kids in your household. We include phone numbers and addresses, so go ahead and post them on the fridge.


Let's start out with a topic that fascinates many kids and probably far fewer adults. The Tri-County Chapter of the Southwestern Herpetologists Society holds monthly meetings, including a regular "Herp-of-the-Month" live reptile display--which are free for kids. For information, call program chairman Scott Eckstein in Ventura, (805) 647-4735. The society also arranges reptile presentations at schools and for service groups.


Most parents are proud when their children announce they want to go to college. And then comes the shocking discovery: the cost of a university education.

The beginning of the year is one of the regular times when families should begin dealing with the issue. To get scholarship and loan money, kids should sit down with their parents and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Get the FAFSA form from a school counselor or by calling (800) 4-FED AID. You can't mail it in until Jan. 1, but you should do so way before the March deadline. Experts say early applicants have a better chance of getting the funding they seek.


For kids as young as 8, a fast-growing sport in Ventura County is competitive ice hockey. It's already producing nationally rated teenage stars, such as Angela Ruggiero of Newbury Park. The Youth Ice Hockey League plays games in Simi Valley and conducts tryouts (called "evaluations") at Easy Street Arena. For information, call (805) 520-7465.

A Ventura County-based youth ice hockey team, which plays in Simi Valley and outlying towns, is the Thunder. For membership information and schedules, call (805) 496-0956.


Computers and televisions offer flickering, seductive windows on other worlds. They thrill parents when kids watch "Sesame Street" or play educational software, but become major headaches when kids are found mimicking Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or downloading Doom games.

For computer families, a nifty way to get kids on the right path in cyberspace is to hand them the Internet Kids Yellow Pages, a $19.95 book similar to the phone book.

This Osborne/McGraw-Hill publication is available at Ventura County bookstores or by calling (800) 262-4729. It's a fun read (check out the stuff on geckos, for instance) and may provide a degree of reassurance to parents who fear there's nothing but naughty stuff on the Web.

The contents are kept up to date via the Internet by the book's author, Jean Polly,

For families trying to find and stick to a healthy TV habit (no, that's not a contradiction), there's Better Viewing, at $9.97 a bargain of a magazine. It comes out bimonthly and gives detailed advance notice of shows worth watching, which is especially useful to kids who have mastered the trick of using the TV for fun and picking up information they can use on competitive tests such as the SAT. Call (800) 216-2225 for subscription information.

There's a monthly video version of these listings, with excerpts from the recommended shows, called Education Showcase. It's carried on cable Channel 6 several evenings a week in Ventura. Call (805) 643-1963 for exact air times.

That show, broadcast nationwide, has an interesting local twist. Students at Buena High School in Ventura appear regularly on a segment in which they offer their opinions of TV and cable fare.

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