Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan faced a not-so-tough press corps during a recent trip to Rockville.
Hogan visited the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School to answer questions from fifth graders, who have been studying the history of Maryland government. The Dec. 16 visit was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
Before he addressed the lower school, Hogan was mobbed by students seeking an autograph. Then he met with 30 fifth-grade students for what the school called a press conference.
“As the governor, what is the toughest decision you’ve had to make?” one student asked.
“Wow. Probably answering this question might be it,” Hogan responded to laughter.
Then the Republican governor said his toughest decisions came last year when Baltimore City was struck by riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody.
“We had to decide how to handle that situation. The world was watching and the city was burning,” Hogan said.
In “the first couple of hours, 400 businesses had been [destroyed or looted] and 170 firefighters had been injured.
I had to decide whether to take action from the state, which I did decide to do, and I declared a state of emergency.”
Rabbi Matthew Bellas, lower school principal, was pleased with the opportunity for his students to meet Hogan.
“Our kids learn in social studies and humanities that they have a role to play as citizens, so to connect with the governor and to meet someone in that capacity [is a way] to connect them in a meaningful way to those aspects of their learning,” he said.
The school is planning to bring the fifth grade students to Annapolis next year.
Matthew Foldie, an alumnus of the school who attended Hogan’s appearance, lauded the governor’s outreach to the Jewish community through his visit to the school and recent trip to Israel.
“I was talking to my teachers who have been here for a long time, and we’ve never had something like this,” he said.
He added that even the school’s youngest students told him they were excited to see the governor.
Hogan was asked by reporters to comment about recent acts of vandalism and hate following last month’s presidential election.
“There is a lot of tension and antagonism out there, and we have to figure out a way for people to come together, not only in the state of Maryland but across the country,” Hogan said. “We think people need to find a way — even when you find strong disagreement — you have to find a way to try and respect each other and treat each other in a decent way.”