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Around Crofton: Quidditch tournament raises money for Kenya Connect

While the successful Harry Potter novel series is purely fiction, students at Arundel High have used the popular stories as a springboard to supply more than 18,000 students and the greater community in Kenya with access to technology.

This past Friday, 80 students took to the school's Carroll Field for a fundraising Quidditch tournament. A competitive sport featured in the wizardly world of Harry Potter, players ride on broomsticks (or at least hold them in this tourney) and pass balls to team members with the intent to score goals with the 20 plus balls in play on the field. Simultaneously, those on the sidelines try to peg off players on the opposing team by hitting them with a ball. Those hit have to freeze from play on the field for five seconds. Adding to the excitement of the game, designated snitches, outfitted in bright gold, sprint on to the field once during each half-hour long game. The team that chases down and tags the snitch first is awarded an additional 10 points.

Despite the steady rainfall at Arundel, 460 spectators came out to see the spirited tournament, now a three-year tradition. Each attendee pays $8 to take-in the competition and root on their class' team. The players each contribute $15 to participate. This year's early afternoon event netted $2,500, which will be used to support Kenya Connect, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural exchanges of correspondence, service and educational practices designed to promote peace and develop global citizens.

Former Arundel students and Rotary International Youth Interact Club members Aashi Parikh and Jordan Luber, now both freshmen at University of Maryland College Park, organized the very first Quidditch tournament and passed down the responsibility to younger Interact Club members after graduating. Taking the lead this year, seniors Grace Jubert and Rucha Bhide spent the past nine months planning the tournament. When asked why Quidditch, 17-year-old Grace explained that the game brings everyone together with no bias. "Jocks, nerds - everyone can all get involved. Nobody grew up playing Quidditch so it levels the playing field."

With clipboards in hand, Grace and Rucha kept their watchful eyes on the gameplay and the scoreboard with hopes their senior class team would continue the tradition and clinch the top spot in the competition.

"Over the last two years, the money raised was used to build a resource center in Kenya," said Grace. "Now the money will be used to sustain the center, covering the electricity and other bills."

In addition to providing educational materials and access to computers, Grace said that the resource center enables interaction between Kenyan and Arundel students. As part of Arundel High School's Community Development and Global Citizenship Signature Program, students on both continents connect through an international book club. Discussions are conducted through Skype. "We were trying to meet every other month," Grace explained. "But their Skype connection wouldn't work because of a bad internet cable." With a replacement cable now in place, Grace said the book club will be getting back on track. Thus far, club members have read "The Giver" and "The Red Kayak," which is set in Maryland enabling the Kenyans to get a feel for the area where the American students reside.

In addition to the Quidditch event, Grace and Rucha have organized additional fundraisers to support the Kenyan resource center. "In the beginning of the school year, we sold handmade beads, wraps and other merchandise that was made by people in Kenya," said Rucha, who is headed to Penn State come fall. Prior to the holidays, Rucha said that student volunteers partnered with area Barnes & Noble stores and wrapped gifts for donation dollars that were channeled to Kenya as well.

"Rucha and Grace have kept the effort going in a fabulous way," said Sharon Runge, who serves an outreach coordinator for Kenya Connect. "Anne Arundel High School is our star school in terms of support. Right now as the teams are playing Quidditch, we are piloting a new program in Kenya and I am seeing the feed."

"This program is a beacon of hope there," Sharon furthered. "In a place where people are so lacking in resources, we now have 20 computers that serve 18,000 kids at 55 partner schools." The center also houses additional teaching tools and a library of more than 300 books ranging from fables and picture books to literature. Sharon said that she plans to travel to Kenya in May and deliver even more book donations.

After the initial Quidditch qualifying matches, the sophomores and seniors squared off in the culminating championship game. The seniors out skilled the younger players securing the top spot for the third year straight and winning the final match with a score of 11 to 4. Grace and Rucha took to the field to present the trophy to the winning team while a much larger community in Kenya will benefit from the win as well.

Watershed tour

As Crofton's 50th anniversary celebration continues, come out and see first-hand the watershed that winds its way through the community. At 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dick Lahn, director of The Chesapeake Bay String of Pearls Project, will lead environmental tours of Little Patuxent River's Beaver Creek watershed. The walking tours will start from 1488 Harwell Ave. and follow the creek to the seventh tee at Crofton Country Club. Tour-goers will then proceed by car along the Parkway near Urby Drive to see stream restorations. To reserve a spot for this rain or shine event, email

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Run for a Cure

Lace up your running shoes on Saturday to support children with cancer. The start gun for the annual 5K sponsored by Force 3 will sound at 9 a.m. in front of Crofton Country Club and the one-mile fun run will start at 8:15 a.m. The longer race route will loop around Crofton Parkway. Post-run festivities will include food and a DJ. Registration is $35 in advance and $40 on-site and proceeds from the event will benefit the Children's Cancer Foundation. To register contact

or visit runningmaryland.com.

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