It was a cold and rainy spring day Thursday outside Saint Francis International School in Silver Spring. The grounds were quiet as one walked up the long pathway to the school. After entering through the front doors, the quietness of the outdoors greeted visitors here as well.
But once you turned the corner and walked toward the multi-purpose room, there was that burst of energy and excitement that can only come from active, animated school children.
It was Maryland Day at the school, and the fourth-grade history students were bustling around in the costumes of their favorite leaders and showing off all they know about our state history.
“I founded Maryland and Virginia,” said 9-year old Leonel Cuello in the voice and dress of his favorite Maryland hero, Lord Baltimore.
“I shipped goods from London to Maryland to start a new life. When I died the territory went to my son Cecilius,” he said, pointing to his classmate who was dressed as Cecilius. His thick painted-on mustache quivering with every movement his mouth made.
“These kids have been working all year on knowing their state history,” said Harolyn Slaughter, fourth-grade teacher at the school and organizer of Maryland Day.
There were over a dozen tables of kids standing next to posters with illustrations and historical facts of their favorite Maryland figure. From the founding fathers, to the Civil War, to presentations honoring some of Maryland's living legends like Barbara Mikulski and Nancy Pelosi.
“I was born on July 7th back in 1823,” said Latisha Bangura in the voice of her favorite Maryland leader Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt. “I had three children and although I was poor, I liked to helped people.”
Surratt was also the first woman who was executed by the federal government. She was hanged in 1865 for conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
But Bangura said the best part about today wasn't just showing off what she knows, but about being in the Colonial inspired purple and white dress that her mom made for her.
“I like dressing up and I love my dress,” she said.
"Having an event like this makes these students accountable for their own learning. It's a chance for them to show they've learned all year and keeping them engaged in their curriculum,” said Slaughter.
Stephanie Torres was dressed to mirror Mary Catherine Gardner.
“I am a publisher, I've published many almanacs,” she said.
Torres said Gardner is her favorite historical Maryland figure because she has dreams of writing a book when she gets older.
The new Saint Francis International Day School is a product of the joint venture between the previous St. Mark the Evangelist School of Hyattsville and Saint Camillus School of Silver Spring. The school opened last fall.