I had the privilege of joining the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) to celebrate the Sarasota County Schools Attendance Awareness Poster Contest winners and their families at the Baltimore Orioles spring training opener.
As one of the first people to arrive at Ed Smith Stadium, it was quite evident to see that SCGLR takes learning and celebrating seriously. Brightly colored purple tents with SCGLR logos were standing outside the entrance gates. Arriving poster contest winners were greeted by smiling Engagement Team members. These young artists received four tickets to the game and concessions vouchers, thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation. A unique gift bag with a Baltimore Orioles bobble-head, orange and black beads, and a color copy of the winning posters was gifted to each winner, and special “Every Day Counts” temporary tattoos were applied and proudly sported by many of the winners and their guests.
As I roamed the stands, I was surprised by how many people could be at the same event at the same time and noticed vastly different experiences.
Here is my Top 10 List of “favorite moments” at the ballpark during this special day:
1). In the very first inning, a lucky student caught a foul ball. His smile and grip on the ball said it all!
2). An avid reader brought her book with her. She was reading in the stands, she is leading in accelerated reading points at school and wanted to make every moment count.
3). A high school brother came to celebrate his sister. He commented to me that his much younger sister is probably smarter than he is, and he’s so proud of her. It was heartwarming to see his joy in his sister’s accomplishment.
4). After a lengthy conversation with winner Aliyah, I asked her what her favorite part of the day was so far. Her answer was ‘probably talking to you.’ That special connection was surely a favorite part of my day, too!
5). One family shared that their biggest enjoyment was the Cracker Jacks and frozen lemonade they purchased with their food voucher.
6). One family brought Grandpa along. They were elated to be at his first baseball game with him.
7). The seventh inning stretch proved to be a crowd favorite with all the singing and dance moves that I witnessed.
8). Many of the parents agreed that the strong breeze blowing through the stands was a welcome part of the joyous day spent outside.
9). Many of the kids voted that the goodie bags provided by The Patterson Foundation were the ‘hit’ of the day!
10). Rounding out the Top 10 List, all were in agreement that spending time with family and friends, while celebrating the Attendance Awareness Poster Contest winners, had all the makings of a perfect day!