After months of planning and a summer of painting and decorating, the Southampton Middle School Ben Carson Reading Room in Bel Air, Maryland officially opened on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. Music filled the air, courtesy of Mrs. Fetters and the SMS Bassoon Ensemble, as students, parents, administrators, and special guests gathered in the school library for the festivities. Principal Glenn Jensen began the program by welcoming everyone and recognizing some of the special guests in attendance, including room benefactors Louis and Phyllis Friedman of Stack & Store Mini Storage.
Next on the program was a slide show depicting the room’s development from mural conception to the finished product. Under the guidance of Art Teacher Sue Ellen North, the slide show captured pictures of student artists Hannah Cao, Jana Hilmi, Nadyah Hilmi, Jackie Mallette, and Gabrielle Pearce at various stages throughout the project. The students spent countless hours over the summer painting the intricate jungle-themed mural.
Mrs. Phyllis Friedman was next on the agenda. Mrs. Friedman shared a personal story with students about how a book can change lives. Over eleven years ago, Mrs. Friedman received a copy of Dr. Carson’s first book and autobiography, Gifted Hands. Dr. Carson’s words inspired her to become involved with the Carson Scholars Fund and to help develop the Ben Carson Reading Project. Mrs. Friedman discussed Dr. Carson’s belief that when you give back to the community and others, you find true happiness and success.
Following Mrs. Friedman, students shared poetry readings about Dr. Carson’s “Think Big” philosophy. Immediately following was a recorded message from Dr. Ben Carson challenging students to read daily.
Next on the program was Mr. Aaron Tomarchio, Harford County Chief of Staff. He presented a proclamation on behalf of Harford County Executive David Craig. After the presentation, it was time to cut the ribbon and officially welcome guests into the Southampton Ben Carson Reading Room.
Once inside the Reading Room, guests were amazed at the ornate jungle scene designed and painted by the student artists.
A lion, giraffe, elephant, and an assortment of jungle creatures greet students as they enter the room.
The bookshelves are lined with hundreds of books featuring a variety of authors, topics, and genres.
A special thank you to Louis and Phyllis Friedman for encouraging the Southampton Middle School students to soar to new heights as they discover new worlds through reading.