2:40 PM EDT, October 24, 2011
After months of planning and a summer of painting and decorating, the Southampton Middle School Ben Carson Reading Room officially opened Sept. 28.
Music filled the air courtesy of Elizabeth Fetters and the SMS Bassoon Ensemble as students, parents, administrators and special guests gathered in the school library for the opening day festivities. Principal Glenn Jensen began the program by welcoming everyone and recognizing some of the special guest in attendance, including room benefactors Louis and Phyllis Friedman of Stack & Store Mini Storage.
A slide show depicted 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.
Phyllis Friedman shared a personal story with students about how a book and reading can change lives. More than 11 years ago, Friedman received a copy of Dr. Carson's first book, "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. Friedman discussed Dr. Carson's belief that when you give back to the community and others, that is when you find true happiness and success.
Students shared poetry readings and Dr. Carson's "THINK BIG" philosophy. Immediately following was a recorded message from Dr. Carson challenging students to read daily and to always "THINK BIG."
Aaron Tomarchio, Harford County Chief of Staff, 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 drawn and painted by the student artists. A lion, giraffe, elephant and an assortment of jungle creatures greet students as they enter the room. Stone boulders remind students to "THINK BIG." The bookshelves are lined with hundreds of books featuring a variety of authors, topics and genres.
A special thank you to the Friedmans for encouraging the Southampton Middle School students to soar to new heights as they discover new worlds through reading.
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