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Eastern Primary to be named in memory of Ruth Ann Monroe

'She was someone all of us kids looked up to'

May 04, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Norma Pompey and Angie Rollins said they were thrilled when they heard Tuesday that Washington County's newest public school would be named in memory of their late mother, Ruth Ann Monroe.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Washington County Board of Education voted to change the proposed name of Eastern Primary School, which is being built near the intersection of Yale Drive and Mount Aetna Road, to honor Monroe.

"It brought tears to my eyes to know my mother reached out to so many members of the community," Rollins said. "My mom gave. She didn't give to get something in return. She gave because it was the right thing to do."

Monroe ran Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown for about 20 years, starting in the early 1980s.

The nomination said Monroe "was a pillar in her community. She was grandmother and mother to numerous children who did not have anyone. She served many years as the director of the Memorial Recreation Center in Hagerstown, and provided a safe haven there for the children in her community. She made them feel special by believing in them and helping them make good choices. She shaped their lives and will forever be remembered for her selfless acts."

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Earlier this year, Washington County Public Schools officials started a campaign to find alternate names for Eastern Primary School.

Shulamit Finkelstein, executive assistant for strategic planning, board and community relations for Washington County Public Schools, told the board Friday that system officials received more than 400 responses.

The three finalists were Ruth Anne Monroe Primary School, Eastern Primary School and Deer Grove Primary School.

When he was informed Tuesday night that Monroe's middle name was misspelled in the nomination, School Board President Wayne D. Ridenour said the name would be corrected to Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School at the next school board meeting.

Pompey said her mother ran after-school programs for children, including a summer league basketball program at Wheaton Park for 7- to 12-year-olds. Monroe often gave the kids snacks, and organized parties and dances.

"She was called 'Nanny,'" Pompey said. "That's what she was to the kids in this area. She was a grandmother to everyone."

Jean Volcy said she used to go to Memorial Recreation Center as a child. She said her children, Sativa, 20, and Gary, 25, were blessed to have known Monroe.

"She was someone all of us kids looked up to," Volcy said. "She touched a lot of hearts."

The board voted 6-1 to approve renaming the school.

Board member Paul Bailey cast the dissenting vote, saying he preferred Deer Grove Primary School.

"Children like the animal concept," Bailey said after the meeting. "I thought small children, particularly those children who are 4 to 6 years of age ... I just felt it was appropriate for that age of child."

Monroe's son, Rodney Monroe, said he received the news from one of his sisters. "I'm shocked," he said. "I didn't even know her name was submitted."

He said he plans to return to Hagerstown from his home in North Carolina for the dedication.

"A lot of people called her 'Mom,' not just us," he said. "It's a great honor."

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