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Birthday party turns profitable for local school

February 20, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - With a classroom full of baby dolls, Randi Leydig realized she probably had enough toys.

For her birthday, she wanted to help her school.

About 40 students and their families attended a birthday party/dance for Randi, who asked that attendees donate money instead of bringing gifts. The party raised about $425, which will be used to pay for some things on Old Forge Elementary School Principal John Festerman's wish list - three concrete benches for the playground and child-friendly furniture like bean bags for the library, Randi and her mother Karen Leydig said.

Randi, who lives in Smithsburg, said in an interview after school last week that she was not interested in collecting gifts for herself on her birthday. She turned 10 Feb. 3.

"Well, I wouldn't want that many toys," Randi said.

Students participated in the Hokey Pokey, the Cha-Cha slide dance and musical chairs during the party at the Smithsburg Fire Hall. They also sang karaoke to such songs as "Wake Up" by Lizzie McGuire star Hilary Duff and Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel," Randi said.

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Performing is one of Randi's career aspirations.

"The first thing I want to be, well, I have a few things I want to be. I want to be a veterinarian and a teacher, and I've always to be the first woman president, and what else? Oh yeah, I want to be a singer or actress," she said.

Randi, who enjoys playing video games, soccer and basketball, and watching television, also said she would like to be an astronaut.

Even after the final bell sounds, Randi still thinks of school. When she gets home, she teaches her day's lessons to a mock classroom filled with dolls, she said.

"Whatever I learned in school, then I'll come home and teach my students, or I'll do homework with them," she said.

She has about 12 baby dolls with names that honor her parents; her father Dale lives in Hagerstown; colors, Pink and Blue are twins; and nursery rhyme characters. Though she said her teachers are nice, Randi conceded she sometimes enjoys exercising a little heavy-handed authority over her own students.

"Teaching my baby dolls is fun. I get to see what it's like being a teacher, embarrassing kids, yelling at them," Randi said.

Festerman said it is no surprise that Randi chose to help her school. The fourth-grader, who several times has donated her thick, brown hair to Locks of Love - which makes wigs for youngsters who have lost their hair due to illness - is a "person of true character," he said.

The benches, which will be inscribed with a phrase indicating they are a donation of the fourth-grade class 2006, probably will not be the only marker of Randi's generosity. She already is planning for next year's birthday bash, her mother said.

"She said she wanted to do it next year, and she wanted to raise money for little kids," Karen Leydig said.

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