|Eric Castañeda addressing gubernatorial candidates and|
audience on why Wolfe Street Academy needs a gym.
Photo by: Fern Shen
Fern Shen's March 7, 2014 article about the BEC Gubernatorial Candidates Forum in the Baltimore Brew features students and staff from City Springs Elementary/Middle School and Wolfe Street Academy. The event was held at City Springs Elementary/Middle School and the Baltimore Curriculum Project worked with other coalition members to plan and run the event: https://www.baltimorebrew.com/2014/03/07/city-school-advocates-press-gubernatorial-candidates-at-forum/
Below are some excerpts from the article:
What’s it like to attend a public elementary school that lacks a gym?
A 9-year-old student from Wolfe Street Academy in Upper Fells Point explained it Wednesday night to the three Democratic candidates running for governor as well as to a crowd of more than 300.
“Right now, we spend the winter and rainy days playing whatever we can between the cafeteria tables,” said 4th-grader Eric Castañeda.
In good weather they go to a small blacktop area outside. Or they go to a lane behind the school, where the gym teacher uses cones to block off traffic and has the children walk on the sidewalk, keeping track of the distance as part of Wolfe Street’s “Mileage Club.”
“There aren’t a lot of sports leagues in our neighborhood and there is not a lot of open area a safe walking distance away,” Castañeda said.
“I want to learn to play basketball. I want to run. I want to be able to play real sports year-round. . . Please help us get a gym at Wolfe Street Academy.”
Tackling the facilities question, [Delegate Heather Mizeur] offered a stark and pertinent example – the City Springs building itself that was hosting the event is so overcrowded that, earlier in the day, some students taking the Maryland School Assessment tests had to sit in the gymnasium.
“And the children were in coats,” Mizeur pointed out.
(Principal Rhonda Richetta later confirmed this, saying, “There is a problem with heat in the gym” and noting that when she first came to the school there were 300 students. Now there are almost 700. With space that tight, making the special accommodations some students needed for the test posed a seating problem and meant students were seated in the hallways as well as the gym.)
How to find funding for the second set of schools, places like the Wolfe Street Academy, which are not scheduled for repairs in the first round of construction funding? (Wolfe Street’s place on the list puts a gym or other upgrades 10 years away.)