Teachers, students and staff from Andover and Brooklyn Park high schools spent the year bringing former rivals together under one roof.

North County High, a consolidation of the two schools aimed at expanding curriculum offerings for students, opened in September.

And despite rumors of teacher layoffs and ill-feelings among students, the naysayers who predicted the merger would lead to disaster have been proven wrong, Assistant Principal Andrew Domshick.

"The merger has worked beautifully," Domshick said. "There are no problems. The staff really helped in getting the whole thing rolling. What we have now is a terrific instructional staff that is really concerned.

We've had a really good fall sports season.

"I know there was a lot of concern before it happened," he added, "but now we are one high school."

But making that happen took work.

When the doors opened at 415 Andover Road in Linthicum in the former Andover High building, principal William Wentworth was there to greet students.

After putting aside his duties as principal of Brooklyn Park to organize every detail of the new school, Wentworth and members of the North County Parents Coalition attempted to head off problems before the school opened.

Doing so meant being creative in raising money for new band uniforms, merging athletic teams, coming up with the black, maroon and white school colors and deciding to be called the North County Knights.

For years, parents had complained that Andover and Brooklyn Park, both small schools, did not provide an education equal to larger county schools.

Once the plan to merge the schools was approved by parents and school board members, county officials had their own reservations. They commissioned a study by the Washington-based McKenzie Group to make sure the plan was feasible.

In a final hurdle, teachers from Andover and Brooklyn Park complained about how faculty was being selected for the new school. Teachers from the two schools received first preference, but the interview process was open to any county teacher.

Even though the school is open, work still remains to be done. School officials will have to monitor budget shortfalls that may divert money needed to prepare Lindale Junior as the permanent site for the high school.

For now, only students in grades 10 through 12 are housed in the old Andover High building. Once Lindale is complete, ninth-graders will be begin to attend the school.

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