Friendship Valley facilities attract new pupils, teachers


WESTMINSTER -- When Sean Finch was told he would be spending his fourth-grade year in the new Friendship Valley Elementary School, he had mixed emotions.

The 9-year-old Westminster boy had been settled in at William Winchester for the past three years. Making a move seemed a bit scary.

"Well, when I first found out, I didn't feel that happy. A lot of my friends were staying at William Winchester and I knew I would miss them a lot," said Sean, the son of Bill and Debbie Finch.

"But now I feel happy because I watched the movie the principal brought in to show us, and I saw some neat things. One thing I liked was the computer room with the 25 computers and the carpet on the gym floor."

Sean will be in the first group of students to walk through the doors of the Friendship Valley Elementary School this September.

As a result of redistricting, pupils eligible to enroll in Carroll County's newest school include 65 students from William Winchester, 223 from Robert Moton and 272 from Westminster Elementary.

Since much of the school's enrollment will consist of students from these schools, the pangs of change are expected.

Curtis Schnorr, principal at Friendship Valley, said he and other educators began preparing students for the transition before the last school year ended.

"We knew that it would be a change for the kids, and we started working on the transition in June. I made visits to the individual schools and used a videotape to show the kids what they had to look forward to at Friendship Valley," Mr. Schnorr said.

"The tape used a turtle and a rabbit puppet, which showed the various aspects of the school. I told all the kids that the exciting thing was, they had the opportunity to be in a new school and that's something that doesn't happen every day."

Mr. Schnorr, 43, was principal at Robert Moton Elementary before being assigned to Friendship Valley. His son Jeff, a third-grader, and daughter Karlye, a fifth-grader, will go to Friendship Valley this year.

"My son was excited about going to a new school, but my daughter had mixed emotions after going to the same school for four years," Mr. Schnorr said. "We talked about the uniqueness of going to a new school and the opportunity to meet new friends. In the end, she realized that she wanted to go."

Kathy Sanner, assistant in school facilities for the Carroll County Board of Education, described the school as a "state-of-the-art facility."

"There are things in this school that we have never tried before in Carroll County, from the carpeted gym floor to the beautiful site where the school is situated," Ms. Sanner said.

While the media center is the school's focal point, other highlights include a computer lab equipped with new Macintoshes, movable walls and a computerized climate-control system.

Friendship Valley, on 50 acres at the corner of Gist and Kate Wagner roads, is a 57,200-square-foot building designed to hold 600 pupils.

Future Plans for the site include the construction of a middle school, scheduled to begin in September 1998.

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