Parkville Middle students, school officials bask in post-Obama glow

Principal: 'Our students were the ones who shined the most'

  • Parkville Middle School students, from left, Collin Vincent, Adele Tang, Ugonna Mbaekwe and Kiera Lane, face the media after getting up close and personal with President Barack Obama during the president's visit to the school on Monday.
Parkville Middle School students, from left, Collin Vincent,… (Staff photo by Jay R. Thompson )
February 16, 2011|By Jay R. Thompson

PARKVILLE — A few hours after President Barack Obama left Parkville Middle School and Center for Technology on Monday, the school community was still amped over the Big O’s visit.

“It was a great moment,” said Buddy Parker, principal at Parkville Middle School. “I’m still pretty jacked up.”

Parker spoke during an afternoon press conference in the school’s library following Obama’s morning visit to the school.

The principal was joined by Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Joe Hairston, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a few members of Baltimore County’s Board of Education and four students who met the president.

“What a great honor this is for our county,” Kamenetz said. “It should come as no surprise — we know what a great school we have here at Parkville Middle.”

Parker called the day “an unbelievable experience for our school community,” and described the day he first found out President Obama was going to visit.

“On Feb. 2, I received a call,” he said.

Parker’s assistant told him the White House was on the phone.

“I said ‘you’re kidding me,’ ” he recalled.

Students and teachers didn’t know for sure who was coming until the evening of Feb. 11, two days before Obama’s visit.

Until then, all Parker would tell them was “somebody’s coming, but I can’t tell you who.”

The president visited Parkville to recognize school programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively labeled STEM programs.

During his visit, Obama sat in on the classroom of Susan Yoder, teacher and chair of the school’s science department.

Yoder’s eighth-grade gifted and talented environmental science class was engaged in a “hands-on lesson about the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” at the time, according to a Feb. 14 statement from the school system.

“We got to showcase one of our science STEM lessons for the president,” Yoder said. “The kids, it was as if they had known him all their life.”

“Our students were the ones who shined the most,” Parker said.

Parkville resident Ugonna Mbaekwe is among the students in Yoder’s class who met the president.

“Out of all the schools in the nation, he chose ours,” Ugonna said. “He was just a normal person. It was just really awesome.”

Collin Vincent, a Dundalk resident, was in the class as well.

“He was actually genuinely interested in our experiments,” Collin said.

Eighth-grader Adele Tang of Baltimore said “knowing that the president would be at our school is obviously unbelievable.”

Chase resident and eighth-grader Kiera Lane said her heart was pounding before the president came into her classroom.

“When he came in, I was like, ‘He’s just a normal person,’ ” Kiera said. “He was just another person we could talk to about what we were doing.”

After the press conference, students spoke further about the experience.

“He looks a lot different (in person),” Collin said. “He’s a lot taller than you’d think he’d be.”

Ugonna said she was “really pumped and excited” to meet Obama.

“You feel really special and important,” she said.

The best part of Obama’s visit, for Kiera, was when the president walked into the classroom — because she didn’t have to feel anxious anymore.

“After that,” she said, “it was kind of a piece of cake.”

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