On Tuesday, She's Going To The Gala

January 16, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Jessica Nicole Fryatt, 11 years old, had a problem. She wanted to make a statement on behalf of the "good things kids do," and thought the best place to do it would be in ceremonies surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Bill Clinton next week.

"I just wanted to tell him there are still some good children in the world," Jessica said yesterday.

Thanks to a lot of determination and a little luck, she'll be at the Presidential Gala at the Capital Centre in Largo Tuesday night.

Jessica, a fifth-grade student at Riverview Elementary School in Lansdowne, said she wanted to tell Mr. Clinton about Emerald USA Showcase Productions, an entertainment group of about 50 youngsters organized by a disabled housewife, Barbara Smith of Reisterstown.

The volunteer group puts on variety shows 50 times a year at such places as senior citizen centers, retirement homes and the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Jessica wanted to send a letter to someone asking for tickets for the whole group to Wednesday's Inaugural Ball, and she wanted to tell Mr. Clinton personally that young people aren't all bad.

"We wouldn't mind standing in the back," she wrote.

How to get it to the right person? She called the offices of three members of the Maryland congressional delegation, but they had no tickets. She called the office of Gov. William Donald Schaefer for help. The folks there suggested she call the Inaugural Committee in Washington.

"Someone gave me the number, but I don't remember anymore who it was," Jessica said. "I'm just too excited to think."

Several calls and a lot of exasperation later, she reached a member of the inaugural staff, who said to fax her letter.

It said, in part: "People are so quick to jump on kids. We [Emerald USA] get more back than we can ever give, but it would be nice to be recognized for it."

Thursday night, the answer came in a phone call from Charlene Newee, chairwoman of the Inaugural Committee. She said Jessica won't quite make it to the Inaugural Ball, because children aren't allowed, but she would get two tickets to the Presidential Gala, which will feature such entertainers as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and Bill Cosby. Jessica and her mother, Carol, picked up the tickets yesterday.

"She couldn't sleep last night," her mother said. "She's determined to say something to Mr. Clinton and get her picture taken with him. I told her she wouldn't get close, but you can't underestimate her determination."

Barbara Smith formed Emerald USA about five years ago to help showcase her daughter Evangelin's talents as a singer, dancer and choreographer. "It just grew from there," Ms. Smith said yesterday.

Evangelin Smith, 18, a student at Catonsville Community College, will accompany Jessica to the Gala.

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