When it comes to supporting Baltimore City youth, it is important to know that we can depend on people in our very own backyard. We called on retired seniors, teachers, fire fighters, civic groups, and City Council members to help expose our youth to a world outside of Baltimore City and they answered! Our first annual B.E.S.T. Black History Month Essay Contest which included a trip to Annapolis was a success! Our children experienced Annapolis at its fullest. Beginning with our arrival, the children fully enjoyed learning the history, meeting special guest speakers and last but not least, the announcing of the essay winner.
Many of the students had never been to Annapolis. From the time they stepped off the bus they looked around in awe. They were amazed at the architecture, the liter-free streets and one student even said it reminded her of a college campus. We started our tour in the joint Hearing room which is the largest hearing room in Annapolis. The children were thoroughly engrossed in watching a video that detailed government rules and regulations for the passing of bills. They asked great questions such as how many votes does it take to get a bill passed, and why are the bills identified with numbers? When we finally made our way to the balcony of a hearing room they knew a number of terms to listen for and they waited patiently for the voting board to light up. Unfortunately, we could not sit in on the entire hearing and were not there to get the results of the vote.
Walking the halls among senators, delegates, staff members, political activist and even media crews as we moved from building-to-building had some of the students thinking about a life in politics. Delegate Aisha Braveboy emphasized college and spoke about the struggle to get Historically Black Colleges & Universities more funding. Delegate Heather Mizeur spoke about dilapidated schools in Baltimore City and how she worked to get money to renovate the schools. She also enlightened the students on politicians asking for their vote. She explained that the first question they should ask while looking into the politicians eyes is “what have you done for me and my community”? When Delegate Cheryl Glenn finished speaking and she asked the students for their vote, they responded with what they were taught. They looked her in the eye and all at once they hollered out, “What have you done for me and my community?” When our final surprise guest Lt. Anthony Brown spoke, he really got the students excited. He mentioned a politician that we all love; President Barack Obama. All of the speakers were great and much appreciated. Meanwhile, one message rang loud and clear; no matter whom you or where you’re from, if you work hard in school and get good grades, the sky is the limit for anything you want in life.
Seventh grader Nadine Gray can easily relate to hard work. She won the essay contest and received a $50 savings bond. In reading her speech she spoke of Councilman Brandon Scott and the exemplary work he does in the community which inspires her to become a better student and servant in the community.
After completing a tour of the Comptroller’s Office, we stood on the steps of the State House. This was a day never to be forgotten! As we gathered to take a picture on this magical day, forever to be ingrained in our memories, I smiled into the camera and could not help but think of the future of these students from Northeast Middle School. Hopefully, this trip will help these students decide their future in politics.