4th Graders enjoy the open water. Left to Right: Dajun Miller, Nazr Harper, Tonya Crumle, Kya Hopkins, Courtney Thompson, Tasia Bailey, Jennifer Zhou, Joniah Williams (behind), and Eugene O’Carroll (front center) (Photo: Eric Fishman).

By Meg Brinckman

Amidon- Bowen bass fisherman Left to Right: Elijah Broadus, Robert Freeman, Mr. Fishman, Clarence Eggleston, Andre Porter (Photo: Eric Fishman)

They reported to National Harbor in the gray dawn of a Friday morning in May. Amidon-Bowen Elementary School fourth graders Andre Porter and Elijah Broadus, and fifth graders Robert Freeman and Clarence Eggleston, were up at an extra-early hour as a reward for their performance during the recent school year.

Their reward? Participation in the Nation’s River Bass Tournament at National Harbor.  Andre, Elijah, Robert and Clarence were chosen for their performance during this past year. The students each exemplified the exemplified the three Rs of the Amidon-Bowen school motto: Respectful, Responsible, Ready to Learn.

Special thanks go to Rick Bardach. who provided transportation for the group for the early morning start, and to Counselor Eric Fishman for accompanying them.

Upon arriving at National Harbor, each boy was assigned to a “Fishing Pro” whose savvy in the ways of the illusive largemouth bass would lead the four Amidon-Bowen anglers to a memorable day on the water and, in the case of Clarence, a 3-pound, 15-ounce bass that took third place in the final weigh-in.

Clarence and his fishing mentor, Danny Moffat, were featured in a Washington Post article on May 19.  Only about 20 children from the capital area were chosen to get the hands-on experience of fishing with an experienced angler, including all of the equipment associated with serious fishermen.

Sponsors included Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, Pepco, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Walmart, the Peterson Companies of National Harbor, the American Sportfishing Association, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, GenOn, Walmart FLW Outdoor Open, Float Tech, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Boater Exam and Gaylord Hotel.  All these groups support efforts to connect youth with the outdoors.

The fourth-grade classes of Jana Banks and Frederick Sisk arrived at National Harbor later in the day to participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities.  Playworks Coach Levon Floyd also accompanied them.  The full day of activities included the Walmart FLW Outdoor Open Exhibits, an interactive set of hands-on activities geared for children 12 and under to increase their knowledge of the outdoors.

In addition, and through the auspices of Living Classrooms, the groups went out on a real oyster buyboat, as well as participating in other activities such as learning to cast and a scavenger hunt.  They also got to cheer their four classmates when their catches from the morning Bass Tournament were weighed in.

Fishman expressed appreciation for Living Classrooms for providing this exceptional experience for Amidon-Bowen students.