After a long week in classes, the students at Catonsville Elementary School will have a chance to blow off some steam Friday night at the school's first "Hop for Hopkins" dance to raise money for sick and injured children.
The Feb. 8 event will serve as a fundraiser for Kids Helping Hopkins, a values education program that donates time, money and goods to children in the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
"When I came to Catonsville Elementary about six years ago, our school started to get involved with the Kids Helping Hopkins program" said Catonsville Principal Linda Miller.
Miller served on the original steering committee for Kids Helping Hopkins and has stayed active since the organization's founding in 1993, sponsoring events such as Scoops for Hopkins and Hearts for Hopkins in the past.
"We've never had a hop here before," Miller said. "It was a different way to generate interest and get donations for the Children's Center."
Miller is excited to host an event that will not only raise money but give her students an opportunity to have fun at school outside of the classroom.
"For this, I think it really brings together families," she said. "It's a nice family event for students and their parents and their siblings to come together. It's also a nice way for staff to be involved with families and students get to see their teachers outside the classroom."
"And try to get them on the dance floor, I'm sure," she added.
Ann Pietrowiak has been working with Miller to make the event happen. The two had attended a kickoff event for Kids Helping Hopkins in October where they first heard about hops.
"I said, 'Ha! Can we do this?' and she said 'Sure.'" Pietrowiak said.
Pietrowiak said she is excited about the opportunity to add some variety to their fundraising events.
"I want many more years of this," Pietrowiak said. "I think in the wintertime like right now, it gives everybody something to do."
Anita Rozenel, a former music teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools, is the founder of Kids Helping Hopkins.
Rozenel, known as "The Music Lady," has been volunteering her time and her musical talents at Johns Hopkins since 1989. When one of her students, kindergartner Amanda Bradel, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1991, Rozenel was there, both at school and at the hospital, to provide support.
Amanda died of kidney cancer in 1992 and that's when Rozenel and her husband decided it was time to do more.
"We founded Kids Helping Hopkins to honor Amanda's memory," Rozenel said. "Amanda was a very caring, giving, compassionate, young girl and this program teaches children to emulate those values."
In March of 1993, Rozenel held her very first Hop for Hopkins at Hernwood Elementary School in Randallstown.
"And that was the unofficial beginning of Kids Helping Hopkins," she said.
Since then, the program has grown to include outreach programs in more than 200 schools, in addition to collecting donations of equipment and other items the center's patients might need. Rozenel said that the group has now raised more than $1.5 million.
Though many other Baltimore County schools have hosted hops since the founding of the program, Rozenel is especially excited for Catonsville's first hop because of Miller's longtime involvement.
"Catonsville has been involved in a variety of ways and this is their very first Hop for Hopkins and we are very excited," Rozenel said.
Though Kids Helping Hopkins sponsors many different events Rozenel said, "The hops are particularly special because it brings an entire school together and families."
Pietrowiak said she just appreciates the opportunity to help children in need.
"I have two children of my own, and both of my children are healthy," Pietrowiak said. "To have two healthy children, it's like a blessing.
"So if you can help anyone who has children who are struggling or who have medical problems when they're born, I do whatever I can do."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun