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Suns, fans offer salute to education at stadium

August 22, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Suns marked Washington County Public Schools' 140th anniversary Sunday with a Salute to Education Day. School employees received 50 percent discounts on tickets, and dozens of people signed a burgundy-and-white banner pledging support to the schools.

"I will do my part to support the Washington County Public Schools," fans repeated from the stands as the school system's public information officer, Carol Mowen, read aloud a pledge before the game.

Fans stood up reluctantly and echoed the words quietly, but the volume of voices grew as Mowen neared the end of the eight-line statement.

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"... it's almost over, it's almost over," Mowen urged. "... with my time, energy and ideas so that Washington County will be a better place to live, work and play."

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and Board of Education members and their children threw out the game's ceremonial pitches, and Springfield Middle School principal David Reeder sang the national anthem.

At the Suns' customer services booth, employee Garry Laing chatted up fans and encouraged people to fill out orange raffle tickets. The booth is hardly a good place to watch a game, but for about four years, Laing said he has enjoyed a great mix of education and baseball.

A business teacher for Chambersburg Area Senior High School in Chambersburg, Pa., Laing said he has run into quite a few former students at the ballpark.

"It's good to be appreciated as a teacher," Laing said.

Suns General Manager Kurt Landes said the team would "certainly, definitely," consider making the Salute to Education Day an annual event, and he envisions someday kicking off the school year with an assembly of school employees at the ballpark.

Washington County Public Schools resume classes Wednesday.

For Tim and Chris Reed, who took four girls, including three daughters, to the game, the Suns are a little bit of both.

According to Tim Reed, the family typically goes to 10 or 11 games a year. A middle school teacher for Tuscarora School District's James Buchanan Middle School, Reed and his wife, a substitute teacher, said they appreciated Sunday's promotion.

Reed said he is excited about the beginning of the new school year - even though classes temporarily are on hold because of construction in the Mercersburg, Pa., area school district.

"I'll probably get to see the rest of the Suns games here at the ballpark before I go back," Reed said.

The school system's scheduled Aug. 29 start date has been delayed until Sept. 8.

A delayed start - and a longer summer - probably would suit most children, such as 10-year-old Lacey Smith, who attended Sunday's game still basking in the glories of summer baseball.

Lacey held a trophy she had earned as an all-star second baseman in a boys' league as her mother, Stephanie Smith, a school lunch assistant, signed the Washington County schools' banner.

Lacey loves baseball - her favorite Suns player is Ambiorix Concepcion - but she's little less enthusiastic about school.

The best part?

"That school goes up if you have good grades, and that you don't have to go the rest of your life," said Lacey, who will be a fifth-grader at Pleasant Valley Elementary School this year.

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