Baltimore City public school Henderson-Hopkins, a partnership between the Hopkins School of Education and Morgan State University, celebrated the grand opening of its new community track and field at its elementary-middle school, Elmer A. Henderson, on Sept. 13.
Elmer A. Henderson Principal Peter Kannam attended the ceremony along with University President Ronald J. Daniels, School of Education Dean Christopher Morphew, and Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott. As part of the opening ceremony, Daniels and Scott raced other students on the new track field.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Kannam commented on the joyful nature of the opening.
“It was celebratory. There were food trucks; kids were playing,” Kannam said. “Then the race happened. It was between the mayor, President Daniels and one of our students, Zoe. They ran around the track, and Zoe won the race. Everyone was cheering her name — ‘Zoe! Zoe!’ It was a joyful, wonderful celebration.”
Caroline Somerville, a senior on the Hopkins women’s lacrosse team, reflected fondly on the time spent with young students.
“It was such a special and fun event to share the game of lacrosse with a lot of kids who hadn’t played before,” she said.
Senior Georgia Esmond, another member of the women’s lacrosse team, concurred.
“Being able to introduce lacrosse to the students and watch them step outside their comfort zones was something I will never forget,” she said. “I hope the kids love and enjoy their new track and turf field as much as I did.”
Funded by the Board of Trustees and the Office of the President, the construction project had been well underway for over a year. Kannam emphasized the importance of President Daniels’ commitment to the project.
“President Daniels saw the open space on the school playground, and he said, ‘We need to do something.’ Then, we came up with the idea together to make a track around it,” he said. “They saw the need, and they took action, and it was incredible.”
Kannam notes that the new field has opened up new opportunities for his students. For example, Henderson-Hopkins is planning to establish a student track team, as well as a running group named Marathon Kids. He explained that this would allow students to train to run longer races, like the 5K.
The new track and field will also serve to provide opportunities previously unavailable to the East Baltimore community. Kannam stated that he encourages members of the East Baltimore community to make use of these new resources.
“We realized promoting a healthy life is very important, especially during the pandemic. We want to spark a health and wellness movement for not only my 600 incredible students but also the entire community,” he said.
The opening of track and field marks the start of the partnership between Henderson-Hopkins and Hopkins Athletics, following collaboration with the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine. Kannam expressed his gratitude for the support provided by the University over the years.
“[The] Johns Hopkins student body should know the University is helping us to manage a pre-K -8 school with a goal of delivering excellence for our students,” he said. “Supporting a grade school is not easy, but President Daniels and the University have been supporting the school for the past decade. It is very much appreciated.”