Keeping students and communities healthy

September 14, 2021

New facility at Henderson-Hopkins creates outdoor fitness opportunities for the East Baltimore neighborhood

A festive late summer evening in Eager Park marked the grand opening of a new track and field at Henderson-Hopkins, kicking off a yearlong focus on exercise and wellness at the K-8 school.

Hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and community members celebrated the facility’s grand opening.

Funded by Johns Hopkins through a combination of donor and institutional funds at a cost of more than $1 million, the track and 60-yard sports field will encourage students to be active during recess and provide high-quality facilities for after-school programming, including track, football, and soccer. The facility will also help the school promote community health and will be open to the public during non-school hours to create outdoor fitness opportunities for the East Baltimore neighborhood, where recreation facilities are limited.

“We hope this field will be a place for the indomitable spirit of this community to shine; a place for everyone to get out, get strong, and be well; and a hub for after-school programs and activities, for pick-up basketball games, and, of course, for impromptu races,” JHU President Ron Daniels says.

The event also featured a little healthy competition: Daniels, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and Henderson-Hopkins sixth grader Zoe Zambrana laced up their running shoes for a ceremonial race around the track, with Zambrana taking an early lead to capture first place.

JHU-President-Ron-Daniels-Baltimore-Mayor-Brandon-Scott-student-Zoe-Zambrana race
JHU President Ron Daniels and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott race sixth grader Zoe Zambrana.

“Our goal is that this new track and field can help us spark a health and wellness movement in our community as we emerge from the pandemic to keep us all healthy,” says Peter Kannam, Ed ’99 (MEd), principal at Henderson-Hopkins, a contract school of the Baltimore City Public Schools System operated by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education in partnership with Morgan State University. “This track demonstrates how we value, we see, and cherish every one of our students and their families, as we put them on a pathway to success.”

Speaking from personal experience, Scott says running track as a student in Baltimore City Public Schools helped him become the man he is today.

“We know it’s going to take all of us working together to make sure that every one of these youngsters reaches their full potential,” Scott says. “Having facilities like this helps to help our young people grow to be the best versions of themselves.”

The track is one more way that Henderson-Hopkins will serve as an anchor for the local community, says Christopher Morphew, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education.

“As school communities across the country are coming back together, you remind us that students need more than just academic success — they need social and emotional success,” Morphew says. “Today, we are not just dedicating an athletic field. We are giving each Henderson-Hopkins scholar a way to return to school as a whole child — social, emotional, physical, expressive, collaborative, and playful.”

To read more about the grand opening, visit The Hub.

Topics: School of Education, Strengthening Partnerships