Some people were eagerly anticipating and celebrating the beginning of a new school year Monday August 26, 2013. There were some educators, however, who refused to attend.
An annual luncheon dubbed, "School is open, but we don't have to go", took place at Martin's West at 6817 Dogwood Road from 12PM - 4PM. The attendees are all retirees from public school systems in the Baltimore area.
The idea for the event was generated from two school friends having lunch in Detroit. One friend wanted to show the other, Mildred Long-Harper from Baltimore, how teachers celebrated their retirement status.
Long-Harper borrowed the concept and brought it back to the Baltimore area. The goal, according to Long-Harper is to just have fun and be a part of the celebration. "Anyone who is a retiree from a public school system is welcome", said Long-Harper.
The planning committee, known as The Steppin' Out Bunch, comprised of Harper, Marsha Taylor, Barbara Banks, Everene Johnson-Turner, Rose Hamm, Almenta Bell, Gladys Rice, Helen McDonald, Yetty Goodin and Lucy Miller, had worked diligently to assure all activities were well-planned and went smoothly.
There was tongue-in-cheek entertainment in the form of singers, The Imitations, and dancers, The Steppin' Out Steppers.
The order of the program included a Meet and Greet, followed by Blessings and Buffet, Welcome and Introductions, Dancing, Entertainment, Line Dance Instruction, Door Prizes and a Soul Train line.
The buffet fare included fried chicken, crab cakes, salmon, stuffed baked potatoes, cucumber salad, mixed vegetables, meatballs, turkey and ham with dessert stations as well. Not only did the attendees enjoy a delectable lunch, but they could also partake of card games, line dancing a la well-known disc jockey Randy Dennis, and door prizes, including a fur stole.
The group has grown larger with each year since that first luncheon five years ago. Today, there were 1100 attendees, well above the handful of retirees who had met for lunch in 2009 at The Olive Branch, in Pikesville.
The theme has remained the same each year: Retirement-Replacing Tension with Pension.
In addition, there were vendors available to sell their various wares from handbags to jewelry to CDs to books. Some of the vendors on hand were Diane Tunstall's Accessorize, Classique Jewelry, Linercise, Handbag It's in the Bag, Andrea Givens' Accessorize Your Look and author Thaddeus Logan.
There was also some learning that took place for the educators as they did The Wobble, Cha Cha Slide and other line dances to calls being given by Randy Dennis, founder of Linercise.
Retired Principal Brenda Hubbard said, "I like seeing the reunion of colleagues; to see how good we all look. We are well-preserved in our retirement."
Even though their job status may indicate retired, it was obvious to this writer that this group had only achieved that particular status to relax, have fun and keep connected with friends.