The Bowie Baysox Minor League Baseball team may be an expert in line drives, but on Thursday they turned to a Mitchellville student for advice on how to score a home run with reading.
Team representatives, including the Baysox’s fluffy green mascot, Louie, visited Kingsford Elementary School to celebrate Favor Umeobi, an 11-year-old student whose artwork was selected for the Baysox Read and Hit a Home Run Reading Program that encourages youths to create posters in support of literacy.
“I’m very excited about it, and I hope it will inspire everyone to read,” said Umeobi, a sixth-grader who wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up.
Her drawing of a girl sitting beside a tree daydreaming of hitting a home run at a Baysox game was incorporated in a poster advocating literacy that the Baysox created. She was one of three winners for the program, which includes 187 schools in Maryland and Washington, D.C. The posters featuring Umeobi’s work will be delivered over the next two weeks to about 80 schools in Prince George’s County and 10 schools in Montgomery County, said Matt Wilson, a Baysox spokesman.
Umeobi, received a prize pack loaded with Baysox bobbleheads and gear, and on April 27, she will get to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Baysox stadium in Bowie. Any of her classmates who are certified by the school as having read four books before the spring game will earn a free ticket to see the Baysox play, Wilson said.
Umeobi’s work was praised by multiple educators, including Krista Bedessem, a reading specialist at the school.
“Despite being a little shy, you can tell she’s so ambitious,” Bedessem said. “She’s what every teacher wants in her classroom.”
Umeobi learned her artwork was chosen during a ceremony with her fellow classmates at the school, where her name was called out from among the crowd of assembled children.
The award was a shock to Umeobi, who said she finished the poster in a 30-minute rush in November to complete it in time for school the following day.
“At first, I was in denial. I thought they had called someone else,” she said.
The poster, which was also a school assignment, got a 100 from Tonya Champion, Umeobi’s reading, English and language arts teacher. It also quickly got the attention of the panel of four Baysox employees sifting through roughly 3,000 entries in the program last year, said Baysox marketing director Brandan Kaiser, who was one of the four who helped evaluate the artwork.
“We’re looking for creativity,” said Kaiser, who has evaluated entries in the contest for five of the past 17 annual competitions. “Hers was very good. It was kind of a no-brainer out of all we got.”
No student from the school, which opened in 2007, has ever been selected by the program, Bedessem said.
“It was actually kind of cool that they see you can win,” Champion said of the Kingsford students. “It’s fabulous.”