High Point Elementary students return to modernized school

The excitement in the air was nearly palpable as students explored their classrooms at High Point Elementary School during its annual teacher-student meet and greet Aug. 30.

High Point students and parents were introduced to key features in the school's modernization — a new instructional wing, outdoor courtyard, and amphitheater. The school's updated gymnasium, cafeteria, and music rooms opened to students their first day of school.

Principal Timothy Merritt said the meet and greet was extra special this year.

“The new school year always has with it that hope, those aspirations of what children can become and how school can help fulfill that,” he said. “I do think (the excitement) was a little extra today.”

Several parents and students commented on the bright, windowed hallways including Dallas Henson whose daughter, Kaelie, entered fourth grade. Henson was impressed by the large windows along the hallways and inside every classroom.

“(The school is) amazing, open and bright,” she said.

First-grade teacher Marvis Surles, who greeted new students and their parents, said it’s “uplifting” to be in her new classroom.

Surles said the new classrooms are a contrast to her previous classroom which was “small and dark” despite the existence of a window. Some High Point classrooms didn't have the luxury of a window.

Interior classrooms were designed with windows through the creation of an outdoor courtyard centered in the middle of the new wing.

Guidance counselor Steven Elsis said one of his favorite new features are closed classrooms which he believes will “create cohesion” in the school, ultimately leading to academic improvement.

Each of the 26 classrooms are self-contained. The school no longer has open classrooms which had been an obstacle for most students and teachers at High Point, Merritt said.

High Point parent Tanya Dyer noted the closed classrooms with joy, “there are walls,” she said. While touring the school with her son, fifth-grade student Cristiano, she marveled at the school's new features.

After meeting his new teacher and touring the school, Cristiano said, “I'm just so happy for the school year.”

Dyer was also pleased with High Point's technological advances. Every classroom has a new SMARTBoard which provides an interactive display for teachers.

“I think (SMARTBoards) are a good addition for the teachers, for the students, it's putting us among the other school in neighboring communities,” she said.

Merritt is also pleased with the school's “amount of technology.” Inside both of the school's music rooms are acoustical sound tiles which catch low frequencies and insulate sound from entering and exiting.

During previous school years, instrumental music classes were held in portable classrooms. The school no longer needs portables.

Merritt is also excited about the enlarged six-hoop gymnasium which is comprised of the old gym and cafeteria. Inside the updated cafeteria is a new stage and new kitchen equipment.

High Point also has a new outdoor courtyard and indoor amphitheater offering teachers and students a unique learning environment outside the classroom.

Pin-pointing a favorite feature is difficult for Merritt, which he compares to buying a new house.

“You might have favorite parts, but you love it all,” he said.

Merritt said the school is about 57 percent complete with the final phase slated to begin in April. A new administration wing will be constructed during the last phase and the school will be re-fronted, moving its entrance from Duvall Highway to a side street, Edgewater Road.

New parking lots will also be constructed including a bus loop for added ease during student arrivals and departures, and special events.

The school was allotted $40.5 million for modernization. Following the design phase, construction began last year and full occupancy is scheduled for Labor Day 2019.

Elsis and Merritt are hoping the school's upgrades will foster a boost in academic achievement dubbed the “new school phenomenon.”

Bingo

The Ladies Auxiliary at Orchard Beach VFD, 7549 Solley Road, is holding a luncheon bingo Sunday. Early bird games start at 11:30 a.m.

Lunch, soda, and coffee included with purchase of a basic $21 package. Additional packs and specials available for purchase.

For more information, call Janet Aro at 443-798-8434.

Meeting

Pasadena Sportfishing Group will meet Monday at Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Highway. Doors open at 6 p.m. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.

Captain George Bentz Jr. of Drizzle Bar Charters will discuss perch fishing. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month.

A captain’s meeting will be held at 7 p.m. for the White Perch Open Fishing Contest on Sept. 15. Entry fee is $50 for a team of four or less.

For more information, visit www.pasadenasportfishing.com.

Family fun day

Lake Shore-Severna Park Rotary is hosting a free family fun day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Y in Pasadena.

Activities include pony rides, petting zoo, bounce house, face painting, snacks, swimming, a raffle and information about Y activities. Free food for children eight and under. For more information, call Fran Ouellette at 443-597-8972

Vendors needed

The Women of the NALC of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 8615 Fort Smallwood Road, are seeking crafters and vendors for their annual craft fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13. Spaces cost $15 without a table, or $20 with a table.

For reservations or details, call the church at 410-255-4141. Reservations required by Oct. 3.

Share your Pasadena news with Atalie Day Brown at adbrownmdgazette@gmail.com

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