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Seven by Seven / Seven things you need to know by 7 a.m.

1. Major League Baseball is breaking out all over today. The 2011 season opens with half a dozen games today -- five of them this afternoon. The Buffalo Bisons will celebrate by hosting an "MLB Opening Night Event" this evening in Pettibones Grille at Coca-Cola Field. Doors open at 7, and the first prime-time game of the season -- the San Francisco Giants vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers -- starts showing on TVs around the restaurant at 8. There also will be free chicken wings and soft drinks (by Coca-Cola, of course) for a $5 donation to American Red Cross Japanese relief efforts. The Bisons open their season at home next Thursday.

2. National Fuel and the Buffalo Sabres have designated Depew Middle School as School of the Year for its efforts in promoting energy efficiency and conservation, with the school's sixth grade as the best energy-savers. To celebrate, the company and the team will throw a pizza party for 120 sixth-graders at the school this afternoon, followed by an assembly featuring the Sabres' Derek Roy. In addition, two sixth-graders will be singled out for honors as 2011 Western New York Energy Detectives.

3. The PETropolitan Auction of Art this evening will offer more than 80 pieces of animal-inspired artwork, along with food and drinks, in Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave. It starts at 6 with a silent auction of framed photographs, paintings and jewelry, followed at 8 by a live auction that will include an animal portrait by celebrated photographer William Wegman. Proceeds will benefit the Maddie's Pet Rescue Project, which wants to end the euthanasia of dogs and cats with treatable medical conditions in Erie County animal shelters. Tickets are $40 at the door.

4. Multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire David Lindley last passed through our fair city in August, on tour with his main musical collaborator, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, in Shea's Performing Arts Center. Tonight finds him next door in the more intimate confines of the Tralf Music Hall, 622 Main St., playing his own music in a show that starts at 8.

5. The internationally acclaimed Harlem Ambassadors will play a benefit game against an outfit called the Lions Lightning at 7 p.m. at Pioneer High School, 12145 Countyline Road, Yorkshire. The event is sponsored by the Arcade Lions Club to benefit the Pioneer PRO Giving Tree. Tickets are $5, advance; $7, at the door. Children under 4 are admitted free. The Lions squad may not be able to make it competitive, but it's a safe bet that the Ambassadors will make it fun.

6. The Park School will screen "Two Million Minutes," a film that takes a different look at education, at 7 p.m. in the school's dining hall at 4625 Harlem Road, Snyder. The documentary follows six students -- two each from China, India and the United States -- and shows how they spend their "two million minutes," the amount of time between eighth grade and high school graduation. A panel discussion will follow. The event is free.

7. Also of interest to parents of school-age children is today's showing of the award-winning documentary "Race to Nowhere," which paints a disconcerting picture of education today. It will be shown at 7 p.m. at Aurora Waldorf School, 525 West Falls Road, West Falls. The film features the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren't developing the skills they need and parents who are trying to do what's best for their kids. It is free, but attendees must register for tickets at http://rtnaurorawaldorf.eventbrite.com.

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