The George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology showed off its sophisticated building, stellar amenities and talented students during its official dedication Tuesday.
The $88 million green building opened this school year in Towson for more than 800 students, who come from across Baltimore County to study in its numerous magnet programs.
"I love the new building," said senior Ciara Hall of Owings Mills, who is studying dance. "It's big, cool and so pretty and we will have the best prom ever right here."
The three-story brick building replaces an aging structure located nearby on the same York Road campus, a facility that dates to the 1940s, when it was a segregated junior high school for African-American students. It would go through several iterations before it was named Carver School for the Arts in the 1980s.
"There is no better commitment to education than where we stand today," said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
He lauded "the opportunities for students to focus on their individual passion" as well as core academics.
Senior Patricia Renzac of Glen Arm called Carver a second home and said she is appreciative of the opportunities it has afforded her.
"It is not a sterile, purely educational building," she said. "You study here with friends who love something the way you do."
She is auditioning for entry into music programs at several colleges, including Towson University and the Juilliard School in New York. Carver has schooled her well, she said.
"This school has prepared me for a career in music and given me a lifelong appreciation for both song and music theory," she said.
She joined other student vocalists as they opened the dedication ceremony with the national anthem and an operatic selection in the 1,000-seat Carver Theatre. Students also staged a dramatic dance performance, choreographed to the lines of a poem written by Catherine McGlynn, a senior in literary arts. Those in the culinary arts program baked pastries for the reception.
"This is a new moment in Carver's history," said Principal Karen E.H. Steele. "So many people worked so many years to make this dream a reality in a space that matches the spirit of this school."
Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, whose tenure began in July, said, "When you visit here, you understand what success means." He took note of Carver's status in the top 5 percent of schools in the nation.
After a ribbon-cutting, many lingered in the three-story, sun-drenched atrium. Several seniors in the business program marveled at the aging photos of earlier school days.
"There's cars from the '50s!" said Jon Campf of Reisterstown. "I like the colors and how modern the new building is. But I am glad they brought some of the old school here."
His classmate, Victor Himelstein of Owings Mills, pointed out the former school name "Towsontown Junior High" etched over the entry to the old building. He also was glad to see much of the art from the old school lining the walls of the new building.
Allyson Haley, learning resource department chair, took a moment to look down on the crowd from the second-floor balcony.
"You can feel the energy in this building from here and it's good," she said. "It's an energy that lends itself to how creative everyone is here and how they push the imagination as far as it can go."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun