It has been three years since I first interviewed Pat Saunderson, principal of Reservoir High School, and I wanted to check in with him to see how things were going at the school. I stopped by to see Pat one afternoon and had a chance to chat with him about the happenings at Reservoir.
"As you know, getting into a third year is so different than the first year; now, we're starting to see the fruits of our labor. We've hired some new teachers, including another Howard County grad. The first year, you are working your butt off just trying to learn about the kids, the culture, the environment, etc. The second year, you are seeing how things play out. The third year — now I get to see what's really going on".
I could feel his excitement as he spoke. If you have ever had the opportunity to speak with Pat one-on-one, you know how passionate he is. And it was evident during our session.
He was excited about all that has been happening at the school — the success of the various programs, the ranking of the school in US News and World Report, the Fine Arts programs, the STEM Speaker Series, robotics, the success of the athletic teams — he went on and on, all the while being focused on the success of the students and their achievements.
"The kids put on a production of 'Singin' in the Rain' and they built a set where it rained during the performance! That was really something to see."
Pat talked about building bridges into the local communities and the feeder schools from which Reservoir will get its students. "We've taken buses out into the local elementary and middle school communities and picked up the kids and brought them to games" he said.
It's all part of building connections with the kids. Another area that he pointed out was the rich culture within the school, one of the richest cultural environments of any Howard County High school.
"If the kids can figure it out here, they will be able to figure it out anywhere" he said.
I asked him how he thought the newest housing developments in the area will affect Reservoir.
"I don't know how this will play out. Maple Lawn doesn't have a big investment in the school just yet. It seems that many of the incoming families either have very young children or have an affiliation somewhere else. And, with Maple Lawn South coming, it's going to be interesting, won't it?"
Pat still keeps his office in the atrium of the school. He originally had a big executive desk but has chosen to downsize so there would be more room for the kids to congregate there.
"It's not unusual for me to have 10 or 12 students in here during lunch period" he remarked. (I could never have imagined hanging out with my high school principal).
"Sometimes it's hard to get anything done around here. But this is where I get my energy — from the kids". Pat is excited to be back in his community and being involved, especially since he has two of his own kids there and a niece and two nephews at RHS.
"It's such a neat community and it'll be fun watching it grow and change" he said.
Don't forget — the annual St. Francis Yard Sale is this Saturday, Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.