On another gorgeous sunny day, as you enter the edifice of education on Liberty Rd., the first thing you see is the award-winning, animated Lego project entitled “The Volcano” engineered by Randallstown Elementary science students. The project won an award at the state level!
The welcome by Principal Lois Stokes made everyone feel at home: friends, family members and guests alike. She recognized several special guests including David Uhlfelder, Vice President of Baltimore County Board of Education; principals from sister schools, including Principal Betty Pettiford from Dogwood Elementary, past PTA members, Mr. Barksdale and Ms. Harris, and representatives from the Hillendale Country Club Ladies’ Book Club: Laura Hudson, Kathy Madairy, Diane Stahl, and Jennifer and Garth McDonald. There were also several members of the Buffalo Soldiers organization. As a descendant of a Buffalo Soldier, Principal Stokes grew up with that rich history. And her mother, a very active member of the organization, was also among those present.
She then read the congratulatory sentiments on the official citation that had been sent by Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne A. Jones of Baltimore County Legislative District 10. The citation was in recognition of the grand opening of the new reading room.
Next, Baltimore County School Board Vice President David Uhlfelder brought special greetings from the Baltimore County Public School office.
Unlike most programs, this one had not just one, but a corps of student emcees who took turns at the microphone: Nia Kinlaw, Delroy Miller, Jasmine Clark, and Joy-Alycee’ Rawlins, all third and fifth graders, did the honors. For their first part in the program, they led everyone in the recitation of the school’s Code of Conduct about respect and responsibility, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thoughts of welcome were then brought by student emcees Nia Kinlaw and Delroy Miller antiphonally with the assembly, ending with an expression of gratitude for this room that will help others to dream big.
The acrostic poem, THINK BIG was next, featuring students from first to fifth grades, complete with large colorful letters on white poster paper. Each student climbed the five 20-foot wide burgundy steps in front of the stage, taking their place in the acrostic and intoned their letter with a summary of the impact that letter had on their life.
This was followed by a musical version of THINK BIG by Walt Whitman, performed by nine members of the fifth grade chorus and led by music teacher Mr. Dickerson, standing as he accompanied on piano. A couple of student soloists on alternate melodies added pizzazz to the performance. Then the refrain, “I might as well THINK BIG….if I’m going to think at all!” resonated with all.
Remarks were brought by Laura Hudson, from Hillendale Country Club Ladies’ Book Club member and Candy Carson.
After Jasmine’s introduction, in her remarks, Ms. Hudson quoted Aristotle and shared the story of how she and her friends in the Hillendale Country Club Ladies’ Book Club caught the vision of inspiring our next generation by installing Ben Carson Reading Rooms in schools. Although their initial goal was to raise enough funds for one room, their enthusiasm, and committed planning and dedicated efforts yielded enough for four! Walt Disney’s quote, “There is more treasure in books than on Treasure Island” summed up the theme for the day! Reading is a tool to help explore and learn. She had the “Happy” song play while covers of popular books were flashed across the screen to close out her presentation!
Candy Carson, introduced by Delroy, spoke on the amazing power of the brain and its enormous capacity. And by reading, that power can be unlocked and expanded!
Jasmine then introduced Dr. Carson who started with how for more than 30 years he operated on kids’ brains and now that he’s retired from surgery, he really enjoys encouraging young people. With reading you can travel without leaving the room! Reading is what changed the direction of his life and he would love to see others benefit from the same process. His mother encouraged him to read which resulted in him going from the bottom of his class to the top. This transformation helped him get into college and has helped him throughout his life! He ended with these admonitions, “Read actively and always THINK BIG!!”
The pulsating throb of chants with drums heralded the Step Team’s arrival as they performed choreographed steps from the rear of the gymnasium onto the stage. Once on stage, the beat of the music directed the rhythm of the steps, and the chant “Do you want to be like RES (Randallstown Elementary School)” was the background for their finale. The choreography was done by Ms. Floyd, the music teacher, and Ms. Stevenson, fifth grade teacher.
In closing Ms. Deborah Stone, the assistant principal, congratulated the students on jobs well done and thanked everyone for their parts in the success of the day.
But Delroy got in the last word as he led the students in thanking the principals!
On to the Reading Room!
Travelling through the sky-painted halls, with walls filled with puffy, cumulus clouds and covered with colorful student artwork, we finally reached the newest learning haven and initiator of dreams!
The “Enchanted Forest” theme begins as you enter the room, for beautiful butterflies arch over the door frame, beckoning all to come into a very special place. In front of the window, a red sofa that kids can sink into is enshrined in white netting with balloons, exotic climbing plants and more colorful butterflies populating its surface. It is held open by sparkling diamond-like clasps! On each end of the room is a waterfall, one of tiered, turquoise blue fabric, and the other composed of narrow, opal-esque streamers hanging from a circular framework.
Vibrant, leafy-green bookcases line one wall, and are almost completely filled with reading material, while across the room in the corner are several 3×4-foot pale green leaves with kelly-green veins, creating a protective, sheltering effect over the deep pink circular barrel chairs, which make you feel like you’re seated in the midst of a flower! Lime green bean bag chairs, Fred Flintstone-era stools and chairs around a picnic table on a red carpet with white polka dots, and a pale green rectangular topped sofa, complete with gecko perched on the back complete the fun seating choices for voyagers into the enchanting world of reading.
One wall boasts the school family tree, with a framed photo of each class resting on the painted branches, as well as cheery bird decals perched amongst them. Bright pink, aqua and chartreuse cylindrical bird sanctuaries composed of netting material hang strategically from the ceiling while large, lush, exotic plants reach up from the floor in a couple corners of the room.
Exiting the room you notice the traditional poster of Dr. Carson in just a little different and unique manner….colorful bird decals are perched on his shoulders similar to the lyrics of “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” from a historical Disney cartoon.
Many thanks go to the Hillendale Country Club Ladies’ Book Club members, Principal Lois Stokes and members of the Randallstown team for investing time, efforts, energy and resources to make the future a brighter place for these students and this community!