Thursday, Dec 17, 2009
Director Jon Jarvis briskly hoisted the Star-Spangled Banner over the ramparts of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine during a visit to the park on December 10th. The flag-raising kicked off the first stop of a national tour to engage new audiences with the National Park Service.
The day of public dialogue involved visiting with school children at the park, a luncheon with minority community leaders, a teachers’ workshop, and a public town hall meeting. The director, joined by Deputy Director Mickey Fearn, hoped to listen to these various audiences to learn about how parks can be more relevant, engaging, and educational.
Director Jarvis engaged eighth graders from Francis Scott Key Technology Magnet School and Coppin Academy.
“These students, who live in the shadows of historic places such as Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, are the future stakeholders of our treasured parks,” said Jarvis. “Making the parks relevant in their lives is my priority.”
Jarvis participated in the flag talk as students from Coppin Academy unrolled the giant 30- by 42-foot American flag, a replica of the one that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Part of the interpretive program was delivered by Shandrika Davis, a senior at Coppin Academy and member of Fort McHenry's Youth Intake Program. DAntione Webb, teacher at Coppin Academy, said “we are deeply honored by this partnership between our school and the National Park Service. We are invested in a long-term relationship and will actively encourage our students to apply for future positions at the fort.”
Later Director Jarvis watched students from Francis Scott Key Technology Magnet School learn what it was like to be on a gun crew defending the fort from British attack. “He even got to fire the fort’s giant Naval Gun” said Vince Vaise, the park’s chief of interpretation. “I could hear the boom all the way down the river and the volunteers of the Fort McHenry Guard living history unit reported that he said ‘awesome!’ after he touched the gun off.”
Following the educational programs, Director Jarvis hosted a luncheon of minority community leaders and a teachers’ workshop. He led the discussion on how educators can use NPS materials for teaching subjects as varied as biology, American history and climate change. One of the speakers was Danielle Taylor, the park’s teacher-ranger-teacher.
“I love being a teacher and last summer I was a mentor to the park’s youth intake program,” she said. “I will be wearing my ranger uniform not only during National Park Week but on career day at my school. This is a perfect way for kids to know that being a park ranger is a career option.”
A community town hall meeting at Francis Scott Key Technology Magnet School rounded out the day. In addition to a number of local residents, religious leaders from nearby churches and museum officials attended.
"We couldn't be more proud to have Fort McHenry and Baltimore host this day of active listening and engagement for the director," said Gay Vietzke, Fort McHenry’s superintendent. “Director Jarvis’ closing remarks underscored the thoughts of many in attendance: ‘The mission is to get people engaged and outside, visiting parks and having a sense of park ownership. These parks are for everyone.’”