Face of the Week: Gianni Paquian of Villa Cresta Elementary School

Team BCPS is made up of thousands of accomplished and interesting students, employees, and community supporters. “Face of the Week” introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS such an amazing mosaic of talent, caring, and commitment.

Face of the Week: Gianni Paquian of Villa Cresta Elementary School

When Grade 4 teachers Michelle McGraw and Cherie Fink put their heads together recently to choose a student from Villa Cresta Elementary School for a special honor, it didn’t take them long to come up with one name: Gianni Paquian.

“He’s just a really, really good kid,” says McGraw. “He’s the kind of child who, when the water cooler broke one day not long ago and was making a mess, he just got up and went and got a lot of towels from the bathroom and started cleaning up himself. He didn’t ask anybody whether he could or what to do. He’s the kid who will do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do.”

Gianni, 10, isn’t quite sure what the fuss is about. But on March 25, he will be one of 24 county representatives at the annual Maryland Day observation and celebration at St. Mary’s City in southern Maryland. Gianni will carry a flag representing Baltimore County, and all he knows is that he’s a little bit nervous and a little bit excited.

“It’s like I’m imagining I’ll mess up or something,” says Gianni, a polite and thoughtful Grade 4 student. “All I know is that I hope it’ll be hot and sunny, because I don’t want to have a jacket to carry.”

“Secretly smart”

At school, Gianni is the kind of student who doesn’t speak much, his teacher McGraw says, “a kid of few words, but those words are always very important.”

But to a visitor to McGraw’s busy classroom, Paquian seems the All-American Boy. His favorite subjects are social studies, math, and sometimes reading, and he wants to become either a judge – he watches shows featuring judges a lot on TV – or a teacher, “because I like to learn and teach other people how to learn,” or a grocery store cashier, because he enjoys swiping grocery items across the scanner when he accompanies his mom on shopping trips.

His favorite part of going to Villa Cresta? “Using the computers, the laptops,” Gianni says, referring to the S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) program in Baltimore County’s schools. He also enjoys the school’s art projects and displays.

Gianni is already thinking about taking violin next year in school, and after school, you can find him and his friends riding bikes or playing with his iPad (only after homework has been done) or his X-Box (only on the weekends, his parents have ruled). His father, Guillermo, designs hardware for the U.S. Army, while his mom, Laura, works at a beauty parlor. He has an older brother, Guillermo, who’s called “Memo” at home, and a 3-year-old sister, Gia.

“He’s one of those kids who’s quiet but who’s secretly smart,” says McGraw, who likely will make the trip to St. Mary’s City to see Gianni represent BCPS and the county. “We didn’t even have to think twice about giving him the opportunity. He’s very deserving of this honor.”

Maryland Day   

As the day draws closer, Gianni says he hopes he’ll learn more about Maryland history from his St. Mary’s trip. Having moved to Maryland from San Diego when he was 3, the Parkville resident says he’s still learning about the Free State and hopes to visit the museums and other historical sites on March 25.

Teacher Fink says Gianni’s selection was fortuitous as well. When she received the call from Michael Crispens, the BCPS coordinator for elementary social studies, asking if she could recommend a Villa Cresta student to be the Baltimore County representative, Crispens also was calling to catch up. Fink taught him as a student when she taught – and he attended – Grange Elementary School.

“It makes sense because we have some units that focus on Maryland history in the fourth grade,” Fink says. “We’re delighted he called us.”

“Baltimore County has been sending a student for at least two years that I know of for this celebration. I chose Villa Cresta knowing how supportive the community was in the school’s climate and culture,” Crispens says. “Gianni will be carrying and presenting the Baltimore County flag in the counties’ celebration during Maryland Day. This is important for him because he will be the face of Baltimore County for this year’s celebration. He’ll be able to participate in the celebration, meet county dignitaries, and explore Maryland’s first capital.”

The March 25 observation is one of several Maryland Day celebrations going on statewide to recognize Maryland’s 383rd anniversary. The St. Mary’s City ceremony from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include a variety of speeches, pageantry, and free admission to the area’s living history and museum exhibits.  Sitting where the Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, St. Mary’s City is the site of Maryland’s first colonial settlement and capital. The original settlement, which is now a state historic area including reconstruction sites, living history exhibits, and a museum complex, was the fourth oldest permanent English settlement in the United States.

Gianni says he’s planning on learning more history when he visits St. Mary’s City for the festivities. “I don’t really know what I’ll be doing, except I know I’ll be holding a flag. I think they may have a parade,” Gianni says.

“But it’s a Saturday,” he adds with a smile, “so I’ll have fun.”  

Do you know of a special person who would be a good candidate for the BCPS “Face of the Week”? Let us know! Send their name, contact information, and what makes them special to  

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