'Judy's Night' in honor of late founding member, draws dozens of children to listen to stories

March 27, 2013

Harford Friends School hosted the 5th annual "Judy's Night of a Thousand Stars" recently, drawing more than 70 participants. This special event, coordinated by Alice Remsberg, is held each year in memory of Judy Harlan, one of the founding members of the school's board of trustees, who died in 2008.

"Judy and her husband Bill were an integral part of the founding of Harford Friends School in 2004," Clare Pitz, head of school, said. As a founding trustee, Judy Harlan helped to shape the Quaker foundations of the school, as well as write curriculum for both the middle and lower schools.

The event's title grew out of Judy's passion - working with children and sharing her love for "thousands of books" with as many children as possible. She loved teaching a class of kindergartners, volunteering to read at local preschools and introducing young people to the agriculture of Harford County at the Harlan's Belvedere Farm on Pleasantville Road. "Judy would have been overwhelmed with emotion to see all the effort and spirit displayed by the school community," Bill Harlan commented.

More than 65 pre-kindergarten through middle school children and parents from the greater HFS community enjoyed listening to guest readers and local storyteller Chris Potts share their favorite stories. Many children dressed in their pajamas, carried stuffed animals, curling up on pillows as they listened.

This year, iPads provided visuals as reader Janet Fox, a retired Youth's Benefit Elementary School teacher, showed photos from her travels to Yellowstone while she read "Wolves in Yellowstone" by Randy Houk. Gene Foley, parent of an HFS student, read "The Giant from Scotland" from Great Irish Legends for Children by Yvonne Carroll complete with an authentic Celtic brogue and iPad photos from a trip to Ireland and Scotland. Professional storyteller Chris Potts, a Towson University faculty member, acted out several folk tales and gave voice to a variety of birds and animals.

Alice Harlan Remsberg, founding HFS trustee, event coordinator and Judy's sister-in-law, was impressed with "how well the children listened" and what a wonderful audience came to HFS just to enjoy good stories. "It was just a wonderful evening," she said.

Chad and Amber Shrodes involved the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten group with "A Boy and his Bunny" and "A Girl and Her Gator" by E. Bryan, with a "real gator" on Chad's head. Amber directs the Harford County Public Library Foundation. Susan Summerfield, a Harford Middle teacher, read "The Mitten" to the youngest listeners who tried on the big, white mitten she had made for the event. Susan Loyd, retired director of Fallston Presbyterian Pre-School, delighted her group with Leigh Hodgkinson's "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Goldilocks and Just One Bear." Celia West, also a former YBES teacher, shared Shel Silverstein's poetry and had the students create poems from lines taken from Silverstein's works.

Guest readers also included parents Hillary Doherty, Doug Cerasoli, former parents George Mullin and Lisa Shue, teacher Karen DeMey and alumna Megan Pitz '10, a junior at West Nottingham Academy.

Harford Friends School is at 2230 Rock Spring Road, Forest Hill. The school is a nurturing learning community based upon Quaker principles. Applications for the 2013-2014 school year can be downloaded from the website at harfordfriends.org and now being accepted on a rolling basis. Call or email the school for more information at 443-640-6300, headofschool@harfordfriends.org.

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