Annapolis Legislative Summit

On January 29th, three students from Patterson traveled to the Annapolis Legislative Summit, where they participated in a special session in which lobbyists, community leaders and media asked questions of the new Maryland governor, Lawrence Hogan, the attorney general, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate.  The event was moderated by Marc Steiner, Baltimore radio host, and was aired on WEAA 88.9 fm.

Damion Gaither, Patterson junior and accomplished athlete, boldly asked the first question of the attorney general, on the topic of self defense. “After I sat down, I thought of so many other topics I wanted to ask about,” Damien said.  Still, representing the only young people in the room, the three Patterson students impressed the crowd.  Tyriek Knight, Patterson sophomore, asked Speaker of the House Mike Busch and President of the Senate Mike Miller about the governor’s proposed cuts to Baltimore City schools.  “How is it that he wants to cut Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, when what we need is more teachers and better schools?” Mr. Knight enquired.  The two both responded that they agreed that Baltimore needs and deserves more, that they will have hearings and that they will try to restore funds.  Justist Rice was the third member of the Patterson contingent to get a chance to ask a question.  “Inequality is growing in the US–especially in Maryland–and racial inequality is still a serious issue.  How do you plan to address this?” Rice asked Busch and Miller.  Miller responded that there need to be more job opportunities and that there need to be stronger schools, particularly in Baltimore City.

After the Legislative assembly, the Patterson contingent, led by US History teacher Mr. Baron, visited with delegates from Baltimore City.  The group joined community activist and founder of the group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle Dayvon Love, who gave them a behind the scenes tour of legislative offices.  The Patterson group sat in on a hearing held by Baltimore City delegates in which the Baltimore City School Board discussed the cuts the governor has proposed to city schools.  The Patterson students then proceeded to the opening assembly of the Maryland House of Representatives, where Delegate Brooke Lierman, of the 46th District, called out each of the students by name and asked that the House recognize Patterson High School for coming to Annapolis to be a part of the political process.

“It was great to get a shout out on the floor, but we need to come back when the assembly is debating issues impacting Baltimore,” Mr. Baron noted. “Our young people in Baltimore have important contributions to make in speaking truth to power, and they have shown today that they have the courage and intellect to be future leaders.”  On the return trip, Tyriek looked out on the approaching Baltimore skyline and remarked, “Baltimore seems so small.” A little smaller, maybe, but with the help of three powerful voices from Patterson, an important place for powerful change.

Podcasts of the Legislative Summit can be heard here:

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