While most students won’t be spending much time at the new Havre de Grace Middle-High School as Harford County begins the school year learning virtually next week, there was palatable excitement as students stopped by Tuesday to pick up supplies and got their first look at the modern building.
Approximately 1,200 students are slated to attend the $80 million combined high and middle school building off of Lewis Lane. Harford County current plans call for all-virtual learning through the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year, due to concerns about the respiratory illness COVID-19, although officials are working on plans for an in-person return sooner.
Next Tuesday, a small amount of students will return to Learning Support Centers at the modern Havre de Grace Middle-High school.
Brad Spence, an assistant principal in the high school, is looking forward to when students can return and get a full look at the new school.
“We’re so excited to bring kids into this building, so that we can really show them what it’s like,” Spence said. “It’s sad, 700 Congress [the location of the former high school] meant so much to so many people and so many families, there’s generations of people that went to school somewhere in that area, all the way back to the 1800s. But, with coming over here, it’s a new start.
“The Warriors aren’t changing, we’re not losing our purpose in what we do, we’re just in a new place and the love and care that we give to our kids are still going to be here,” he said.
There is a clear separation of the middle school from the high school, in all but a few instances. Art rooms are close together, as are the music rooms. Otherwise, the school is big and open with windows galore that allow natural light, even on a cloudy day such as Tuesday.
Design of the building’s main entrance ties the school into the city’s Promenade, with stamped concrete outside and wood grain tiles inside that extend down the hallway.
The main office stretches across the front of the building with room for all the administration for both schools.
Classrooms, with angled ceilings, on the first floor include space for students enrolled in the professional foods program. Eleventh- and 12th-grade students have access to a cafe and the kitchen is next to none. For students in the child care program, there is space with an additional play room and connection to the outside playground.
A stone and glass greenhouse is unattached and located to the right of the building and close to Lilly Run.
In the high school, science and math classrooms are on the second floor and all have large touch screens. There are also rooms for seminars.
A well-windowed room is the Havre de Grace room, where the history of Havre de Grace High School, including attendance records from the 1800s and yearbooks from at least 1905 will eventually be on display.
The media center is also on the second floor and it will include the Ben Carson Reading Room that was in the middle school library.
“It’s pretty intimidating, just standing right next to it and a lot of rooms,” sophomore Michael Maroney said. “Probably very easy to get lost and I’m very good at doing that. So, I’m a little bit nervous for the school year.”
Floor three in the high school is for social studies and languages. The floor is also home to the school’s magnet program for computer science students and the school will host an Information Technology Oracle Academy. The art rooms are also located on the third floor.
The middle school classrooms are on all three floors.
“It looks a lot bigger to me for some reason, seems like it will be more fun,” seventh-grade student Olivia Marcello said. “I actually like the colors, I know some people don’t like them.”
The referenced colors are light blue on first floor, green on the second and dark blue on the third. Colors correspond with Harford County Public Schools logo.
“It’s going to be a lot nicer because in the old one there were leaks, like black water. I think it will be nice to have something different I guess,” Marcello said.
Both middle and high schools have their own gymnasiums. The middle school space is much like the former school, with a small set of bleachers on one side, while the high school space seems a tad bigger. It has a video booth and a suspended baseball/softball hitting cage. Wrestling mats are suspended above at one end.
The gym area will include a weight room and the school will also house a 1,000-seat auditorium.
Student services will be together in one place. In the past, some services were split between the two schools.
“I’m actually really excited, I saw in a couple of the classrooms, they looked science classrooms and they look really open and bright, like there’s a lot windows,” seventh-grader Faith Andreen said. “I’m just excited to see the cafeteria and it just looks like really bright and open and I’m really excited to get in. It”s really big and very beautiful. The stone work and stuff, I really like it.”
Outside as part of the bus loop, visitors will see an area displayed with physical memories from the old high school. Both bells, the concrete slabs that reads “Enter To Learn, Leave To Serve,” and the date stones from both the middle and high schools.
Out back are tennis and basketball courts, baseball practice and competition fields, a softball practice field and the original field hockey/soccer Lilly Run Field. There is also a small amphitheater just behind the building.
“Possibilities are endless,” Spence said. “The closer we get to opening the building, the more this place starts to feel like home. I think we need to remember, home is not the building, home is where the people are.
“This is what Havre de Grace deserves,” he said. “The great education and amazing education that years and years and years of Havre de Gracian’s have gotten here, are just going to get so much better because now we have the tools to make it that way.”