Over the summer, while most people were enjoying the warm sand and cool breezes off of the ocean, teachers and administrators at Bakerfield Elementary were busy duplicating nature’s oceanic beauty in the school’s Ben Carson Reading Room.
Although students had been back in school for over a month, the door of the reading room was kept closed and students were unable to sneak a peek of the newly created space. On Monday, October 5, 2015 students, teachers, administrators and community members gathered in the school’s gymnasium to celebrate the grand opening of the Ben Carson Reading Room and to get the first glimpse of the ‘under the sea’ themed reading room.
The festivities began with a warm welcome from Principal, Tara Dedeaux. Harford County Executive, Barry Glassman, was next to the stage. Mr. Glassman shared a story about Dr. Carson’s early experiences with reading and presented the school with a citation from Harford County Government.
Councilman Patrick Vincenti spoke next. He encouraged the students to embrace this new resource and thanked Louis and Phyllis Friedman for partnering with the Harford County Board of Education. Next, it was the children’s turn to participate in the celebration. The fourth and fifth grade choir sang “It’s My Book.” The first graders followed with the reading of a poem entitled “Open a Book.”
Next on the program was Phyllis Friedman of Stack and Store Mini Storage. Mrs. Friedman shared how proud she was that the Ben Carson Reading Project got its start at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary in Aberdeen, Maryland in 2000 and how the Ben Cason Reading Project has come full-circle. Mrs. Friedman also spoke how an encounter with Dr. Carson inspired her to become involved with the Carson Scholars Fund. A slide show immediately followed Mrs. Friedman’s remarks. This was the first opportunity for students to see the reading room. The slide show revealed how the reading room transformed from an desolate open space to an under the sea reading oasis!
Dr. Carson’s personalized recorded message followed the slide show. Dr. Carson told the children what it’s like to be a neurosurgeon and shared his passion for reading. Bakerfield Elementary Reading Specialist, Carrie Kane, concluded the ceremony with a quote from Dr. Seuss saying, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
After the spirited ceremony, it was time for the special guests to cut the ribbon and to experience the reading room first-hand. Upon entering the room, the first thing one notices is the relaxing pale blue walls. Palm Trees, starfish and coral have been strategically painted on the walls to give the experience of being on a warm beach surrounded by ocean creatures. One area of the room has a sandy brown rug surrounded by beach chairs. The middle of the room features a large green shag rug replicating seagrass. Large pillows lie on top of the seagrass making a perfect area to lounge with a good book. The room has two bulletin boards. One bulletin board has a collection of drawings of sea creatures including a turtle, octopus, dolphins and even a clown fish! The second bulletin board features a massive drawing of a fish. Inscribed on the fish’s body is Dr. Carson’s THINK BIG motto. The most important aspect of the reading room is the books. The Bakerfield Elementary School reading room boasts a collection of over 500 books from a variety of authors, topics and genres.
A special thanks to Stack & Store Mini Storage for sponsoring the reading room at Bakerfield Elementary School. This is the seventh reading room to be sponsored by Stack & Store Mini Storage and the tenth Ben Carson Reading Room to be located in Harford County Public Schools.