Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake surprised students at three Baltimore City Schools to kick off the first day of classes on Aug. 29.  Blake and Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises surprised students at Lillie May Carroll Jackson Middle and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

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Students at Lillie May Carroll Jackson Middle School were caught by surprise when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stopped by to pay them a visit. (Maliik Obee)

Senator Catherine Pugh and Delegate Antonio Hayes joined Santelises at John Eager Howard Elementary School at the start of the school day to speak to children and sit-in on classes. Students were greeted at the entrance by teachers in traditional African clothing.

The warm greeting from the faculty and the presumptive new mayor was enough to impress parent Michael Johnson.

“For the black boys and girls having someone of that stature talk to you is major, kids never forget.”

At Lillie May Carroll Jackson Middle, Blake walked the halls, checking in on several classes, speaking with students about their summers and what they’ve learned. Teachers struggled to keep the disciplined young ladies focused at the appearance of the mayor, one who shares the skin color of the majority of students. Unlike the other schools visited, the all-girls school has been in session since August 1.

“I’m at this school because I felt like I could learn and be a better student and I feel that Lillie May Jackson can help me do that” said Kayla Bonet, a seventh grade student.

As noon approached, the mayor and her peers visited teens at Mergenthaler, better known as Mervo, observing and engaging with students there as well.