Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 was a very special day at Halstead Academy of Art and Science in Baltimore County. As Principal Jennifer Mullenax gave a special clap, all the students seated by classes on the gymnasium floor responded in the same rhythm, and the room quieted immediately. Principal Mullenax’s warm welcome included some of the wonderful things that the children would find in the new Reading Room—adventure, exciting people, and new places to go—all between the covers of books!
Fifth grade emcees Solomon Marshall and Tyler Robinson led the pledge of allegiance, the school pledge of being “respectful, responsible & ready,” and the school song, “I Am a Promise.”
The talented emcees then introduced esteemed Baltimore County School Superintendent, Dr. Joe Hairston. Dr. Hairston stressed the importance of reading, and how it could help make dreams come true. He promised the students that if they used the room frequently, they would become successes in their communities! Mrs. Candy Carson reiterated the importance of reading as evidenced in her husband’s life, and reminded the students that they never have to be bored as long as they have access to a book.
In the recording of Dr. Carson addressing the Halstead audience, he thanked all of the people involved in the process of building the Reading Room, and reminded the students that it was built for them to explore the world. He promised the students, “If you can read, you can do anything!” His last comment was one he borrowed from his mother, who said, “The person who has to most to do with what happens to you, is you!”
After Dr. Carson’s message, State Senator Kathy Klausmeier presented the school with a special citation from Annapolis, and State Delegate John Cluster presented the school with a unique citation from the Maryland Assembly.
Next, the Ben Carson Jump Start group sang and performed “Gotta Keep Reading”, their own rendition of “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.
Then came the ribbon-cutting, and everyone was transported to the heart of the forest as they stepped through the doors. Think cozy campfires! As you enter the Reading Room, there’s a gurgling rock-waterfall fountain with greenery peeking between the rocks on one side, and two huge black bear silhouettes sporting Dr. Carson’s philosophy “Think Big.” Thank you to the students at George Washington Carver Center for Arts & Technology for their excellent craftsmanship: Jose Espinosa, Alex Vetter, and Shahras Ingbal.
In the center of the room are Adirondack chairs and sofas in natural wood tones on a green carpet gathered around a campfire composed of stacked landscape stones formed in a circle. The corners each have photo murals of woodland scenes, spaced along opposite walls by curtains in solid greens and browns. Vines of ivy twine around the top of the curtains. Pine trees are in abundance, and nylon folding camp chairs are nestled amongst the brilliant colored tents of yellow and red situated on another green carpet.
Butterflies adorn the windows and walls. The full-sized picnic table covered in a blue checked tablecloth awaits the opportunity to serve plenty of food – brain food, found in books!
Thank you to all of those who supported this special effort: the Allegis Group for sponsoring the room, Principal Mullenax, Ms. Stoner for her artwork, Mrs. Powers for her hours of sewing, Mrs. Tritch, Ms. Connors, and the entire Halstead Literacy Team for their hard work and creativity.
ABC 2 covered the Halstead Academy Reading Room opening. To watch the video on ABC, click here.
The Halstead Academy Reading Room was sponsored by the Allegis Group.
Halstead Academy and the Carson Scholars Fund would also like to thank Kelli Knight, Founder of the Lifeskills Education Center in Baltimore, Maryland for her generous book donation in October, 2011 for the Ben Carson Reading Room and other Halstead Academy reading programs.