Last month, I shared with all of you my excitement about starting the Leadership Glades program. On Wednesday, the program was officially underway and we had our first class which focused on education and cultural arts in the Glades.
As a resident of the Glades, specifically Pahokee, for all of my 24 years, I believed that I was well-informed, but I learned A LOT.
So, here’s a brief recap of the 10 hour day.
Did you know that Pahokee Elementary and Pahokee Middle/Senior High School are all certified in the prestigious International Baccalaurete (IB) program? The IB program, which focuses on internationalism, teaches students about different cultures of the world and encourages cooperation and communication with other nationalities. This gives children in the Glades area the opportunity to learn that the world is bigger than just their hometowns. Students can start the IB program in kindergarten and finish the program as a senior. If a student successfully completes the program, he or she will be awarded a high school diploma from Pahokee High AND an international baccalaurete diploma which transfers to universities around the globe.
The new Pahokee Middle School, which was built on what was formerly Lair Field, opened in August 2010. It also serves as a hurricane shelter for Pahokee residents who no longer have to drive 10 miles away to Belle Glade.
The 9,000-square-foot Belle Glade Library will not be renovated but REPLACED by a 15,000-square-foot building. The new site for the library is the old Belle Glade civic center located near Lake Shore Middle School. The groundbreaking is expected to take place in Spring 2011 and the library will open in 2012.
Have you ever seen the tile mural on display in the Belle Glade Library? Mary Orsenigo, a long-time resident of Belle Glade, talked about the artwork. It was dedicated in the late 1960s to the late Mrs. J. F. Browne the first municipal librarian by the Women’s Club of Belle Glade. The mural depicts an aerial view of the rich black MUCK, fields of sugar cane and vegetables, white egrets flying by, and in the distance a sugar mill. It was all hand painted and cost $1,000.
Have you ever wondered why there was a large statue near the Belle Glade library facing main street? The 7.5 feet bronze statue was designed by Ferenc Varga, a renowned Hugarian sculptor and honors those lost in the 1928 Hurricane. The statue features a woman clutching her baby and running. A man and a small boy are following her. The family seems to be bracing from the fury of the estimated category 5 hurricane. The concrete base also has a fresco showing rushing water overwhelming everything in its path. The statue was dedicated was dedicated on May 31, 1976 and weighs 17,000 pounds.
There is even more artwork throughout the Glades featuring the rich history of the area. The Bank of Belle Glade serves as part art gallery and showcases paintings by Graham Ingels and Belle Glade native Ann Tyler. It’s definitely worth stopping in to see.
The first day of Leadership Glades was definitely a success, and I believe that my other 22 classmates learned at least one thing new about the Glades. Although I pass so many of these building, structures, statues on a normal basis, it was great to see things with a new perspective. It reaffirmed my belief that the Glades area is truly a treasure.
~ MUCK LOVE