Scene & Heard: Play It Forward

Sharon Akers, Kevin Manning and Monica Sepulveda attended Port Discovery's Play It Forward gala. Some 250 folks filled Port Discovery for the "Play It Forward" party. They had all come to celebrate retiring Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick as she received the children museum's "Great Friend To Kids Award." Bryn Parchman, Port Discovery president, explained that the first time the museum presented the award, it was to Sesame Street character Elmo, along with former museum board chair Douglas Becker. "Nancy is a great friend of kids. And we can't think of anyone better," she said. "All the incredible work she's done the last 20 years on behalf of Maryland's children, it's extraordinary. She's the Cal Ripken of education," said Suzi Cordish, community volunteer, there with her husband, David Cordish, The Cordish Companies chairman. "Nancy is a very good friend of ours," said Lyn Frankel, Arts Education in Maryland board chair. Dave Pittenger, National Aquarium director, stood chatting with Courtney Wilson, B&O Railroad Museum executive director. "She's been a great supporter for both of us," Pittenger said. "She's a real believer in learning outside the classroom," Wilson said. Proving their point, honoree Grasmick didn't want to talk about herself. She was all about the museum. "It's really exciting to see all of these people dedicated to a children's cause. For some, it's their first time here. This museum deserves the recognition," she said. William Hite, Prince George's County superintendent of schools, was one of those first-timers. ¿It's nice to see Port Discovery,¿ he said. "To help kids shine; that's what a team does. That's what this museum does," said board member John Harbaugh. Meanwhile Dennis Rasmussen, Port Discovery board chair, and board members like Winnie Borden, Bonnie Copeland and Michele Whelle circulated through the crowd that included such guests as: Dr. Hans Wilhelmsen, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor and his wife, Leah Wilhelmsen, community volunteer; Denise Budnitz, National Aquarium major gifts officer; George Roche, retired T. Rowe Price president/chairman; Kevin Manning, Stevenson University president; and Jason Murphy, Tennessee Titans free agent and his wife, Robyn Murphy, freelance journalist. In addition to cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, guests could participate in several fun learning projects set up around the museum. Mark Polhaus, PNC Bank market executive, and Frank McNeil, PNC community consultant, had just finished playing with paint. "We did an arts project. We're now budding artists," McNeil said gleefully. However, if there were any less-than-gleeful faces there, they might have been those on Grasmick's assistant state superintendents Leslie Wilson and Mary Cary. When asked if Grasmick's June 30th retirement made the evening bittersweet, Cary had a brief response. "It's just bitter," she said sadly. -- Sloane Brown
Photo by Colby Ware, Special to The Baltimore Sun
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