An excited 3rd grader walked into the new, open and welcoming lobby of the renovated Amidon-Bowen Elementary School Aug. 27 exclaiming, “This looks like the future!” When this was reported to Joseph Sullivan, Program Manager for the Office of Public Education Facilities and Modernization, he replied with a broad smile, “That was our vision.” Indeed Amidon-Bowen is about the future of every child inside its doors and the future of our community and the District.
Community members came again to Amidon-Bowen Opening Day to welcome students and families to make the connection between the school and the community. Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells, and Naomi Mitchell and Bonnie Cain from his office, greeted students and parents. Lt. Colonel Jennifer Blair; Command Master Sergeant Richard Jessup; Mary Ann Hodges, Director of Public Affairs; and Elizabeth Daffin, Education Liaison represented the Military community from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, an ABES Community Partner. Brittney Wright and Christopher Fitzgerald represented the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations as students filed in to begin the school day. Diane Grooms, MPD Assistant Chief, and Commander Daniel Hickson, MPD 1D were there shaking hands. Rev. Adrienne Terry, of Christ United Methodist Church; Ron McBee and Rhonda Hamilton, ANC6D Commissioners; and Kael Anderson, President of SWNA were there to reinforce that “school” is indeed a “big deal” for everyone. Thelma Jones, Breast Health Educator, provided information and resources on breast health.
The Nationals’ Screech was there to the delight of kids and parents. The Nationals are also a Community Partner providing Baseball Clinics, making Ballpark facilities available for the Jefferson Middle School Baseball team or tickets for kids to see games. The Nationals Ball Club has been at bat for kids ever since they arrived on the scene in SW.
For four years the 3rd Street SW Potbelly Sandwiches and the SW Safeway have made it possible to offer breakfast to teachers, staff and parents bringing their children to the first day of the school year. Enthusiastic volunteers from Christ United Methodist Church helped greet students and serve food and coffee.
Other VIPs visiting Amidon-Bowen on the first day included Mayor Vincent Gray and Chancellor Kaya Henderson. Principal Miller and PTA President Welles guided them through the colorful classrooms. Ms. Henderson and the mayor met with the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes. They asked the students what they liked about the changes to the school. One student replied everything is “new.” They were also asked what changes they wanted to the school. One young man suggested a new playground, which is scheduled for this fall. A girl said she wanted a longer school day! The chancellor noted it has been discussed but there are many things to consider!
The changes made in the Amidon-Bowen Building over the summer in 60 days are nothing short of amazing. They provide a greatly improved setting for teachers, staff, parents and the community to do the important and difficult task of giving every student the education they need and deserve.
By Meg Brinckman & Ron McBee. Meg Brinckman is a longtime contributor to The Southwester on education issues. Ron McBee is the ANC Commissioner for single-member district 6D03.