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Loch Raven to become magnet middle school


Baltimore County's magnet school program continues to grow.

Loch Raven Middle School in the Towson area will become the county's second magnet middle school in September 1995. It will have three magnet programs, designed to offer students choice and attract those with similar interests from nearby middle schools. The school also will have a new name -- Loch Raven Technological Academy for Environmental Sciences, Performing Arts and Visual Arts.

The first magnet middle school, Sudbrook, opens in September.

Loch Raven will continue to offer its comprehensive middle school program, but will add the three specialty curricula. School officials hope the new programs will help fill the school, which is underenrolled while nearby middle schools are overcrowded, Loch Raven Principal Jack Wilson told the school board recently as he unveiled the plans.

Last year, Loch Raven had 707 students; its capacity is 1,048, according to data from the Office of Pupil Assignments. Its normal growth is about 50 students a year, Mr. Wilson said.

An alternative middle school housed at Loch Raven will be moved before the magnet programs begin.

Loch Raven plans to accept up to 225 students -- over three years -- who would otherwise attend Cockeysville, Dumbarton, Hereford, Perry Hall, Pine Grove and Ridgely middle schools.

"We do see this as a renewal for us," said Mr. Wilson. "We'll have the potential to become one of the best schools in Baltimore County."

The first magnet sixth-graders in environmental science will study water -- geography, pollution, erosion and human uses, preliminary plans show. They will study rivers and the Chesapeake Bay as laboratories.

In the performing arts, students will be able to choose courses in dance, music and theater.

In the visual arts, they will study advanced techniques in drawing, painting, sculpting and design, as well as desktop publishing and scanned art. Students will spend about 90 minutes a day on the specialized subjects, Mr. Wilson said.

The school will have outdoor gardens for environmental projects, a television studio, a weather station and state-of-the-art computer technology.

A committee of parents, teachers, administrators and community activists chose the magnet programs to be compatible with other area magnets in elementary and high schools.

Although generally positive about the plans, several board members questioned the possibility of Loch Raven becoming a feeder school for Carver Center for Arts and Technology. This might shut students from other areas out of Carver, which is a county-wide magnet, board member Dunbar Brooks said.

Under the proposal, setting up the magnet program will cost about $836,000 over four years.

That includes money for furniture, equipment, building renovation, staff training -- and $825 to change the school signs to accommodate its new, much longer name.

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