Local schools mark American Education Week
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:47

A banner greets visitors as Norwood Elementary School celebrates American Education Week. photo by Michael Rodman

by Nicole Rodman

Gregory Flach, art teacher at Edgemere Elementary School, stood just outside the library on Monday as students began streaming into the hall.
    Anticipation building, students, staff and parents gathered together to witness the unveiling of the school’s latest addition — a fused-glass installation mounted to the windows of the school’s media center.
    As the crowd fell to a whisper, a line of students came forward and, with one swift pull, ripped off the paper, revealing the colored glass beneath.
    The event was just one of the ways in which area schools are celebrating the 91st annual American Education Week.
    Observed this year from Monday, Nov. 12, through Friday, Nov. 16, American Education Week is sponsored by the National Education Association, among other organizations.
    First observed in December of 1921, the week-long celebration was designed to  raise public awareness of the importance of public education.
    Today, the week serves the same purpose.
    This year, the theme of the week is “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Responsibility.”
    At Norwood Elementary, media specialist Penny Setser is spearheading the school’s American Education Week events.
    During their celebration, Norwood students and staff are honoring members of the armed forces, both past and present.
    As part of the week’s events, students and staff were encouraged to bring in pictures of family members who have served or are serving in the military.        
    The pictures were mounted in the school lobby as part of a “Wall of Honor” display.
    In addition, throughout the week, students participated in activities such as writing letters to soldiers serving in Afghanistan in technology class, making patriotic hats in art class, participating in “boot camp” exercises in gym class and creating patriotic posters in the library media center.
    Each morning throughout the week, students also sang the National Anthem.
    According to Setser, students learned all of the words to the song in vocal music class.
    The high point of the week was the Norwood Salutes Our Military assembly held on Tuesday afternoon.
    To begin the event, members of the Dundalk High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) were on hand to present the American flag.
    The assembly, designed to honor Norwood’s military heroes, also included students singing patriotic songs and reading poems.
    At the end of the event, students stood at the doors to distribute thank you cards to veterans as they left.
    Baltimore County Public School’s own Education Channel was also on hand to tape the event, as well as interview many of the veterans present.
    As Setser explained, parents were also encouraged to do their part by donating to charities that aid veterans, such as The Wounded Warrior Project.
    Elsewhere across the Dundalk area, elementary, middle and high schools also celebrated American Education Week.
    At Battle Grove and Charlesmont elementary schools, parents and grandparents were invited to visit their children in class.
    In addition, Charlesmont also provided a variety of information on healthy living to students and parents throughout the week.
    Like the elementary schools, Dundalk’s middle schools celebrated American Education Week as well.
    At Dundalk and General John Stricker middle schools, parents visited their children’s classrooms for a variety of special events and lessons.
    Even Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz got into the celebration, visiting a number of schools during the week.
    On Wednesday, Kamenetz was on hand at Holabird Middle School as parents visited their students in class.
    During their visit, parents were provided information on how to best prepare their child for the challenges of high school to come.
    Of the parent visits, Holabird principal John Dellone noted last week, “This initiative is designed to spotlight the importance of parental involvement in a child’s education.”
    At Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, a number of events were held as part of American Education Week.
    On Monday and Tuesday, the school’s JROTC program honored veterans with a presentation on military history.
    Donning historic military uniforms donated by the Maryland National Guard and the National Guard Association of Maryland, JROTC members presented their own research on the origin and wearer of each uniform.
    According to Patapsco spokesperson Liberty Grayek, members of the JROTC plan to use the project “as part of a future outreach program called ‘Walk Through History’ in which cadets will travel to local middle and elementary schools to discuss military and American history.”
    On Wednesday, hip-hop artist and actor Tray Chaney performed his song “Mike Bully … Stand Up for our Future” as part of an anti-bullying assembly at the school. 
    As part of the event,  faculty members took the “Bully Free: It Starts with Me” pledge, vowing to stand up for bullied students at the school.
    Likewise, students took the “Stand with Mike Bully’s” pledge, promising to avoid bullying and stand up to bullies whenever possible.
    For more information on American Education Week, visit the web at www.nea.org/grants/19823.htm.