The identity crisis is over. Providence Academy will be called Mary Moss Academy.
The Anne Arundel County school board spent 30 minutes discussing other possibilities, Eight Rivers High School and Alternative High School, then voted unanimously for Mary Moss Academy.
"I support naming the school after a person who contributed to our system, and the name will enrich our children's knowledge of the county's history," said board President Carlesa Finney.
Moss was coordinator of student services during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when county schools and student services were growing rapidly.
The naming of the school on the grounds of Crownsville Hospital Center has been a sore spot for the board.
Like parents searching for the perfect name for a child, the board spent hours last year coming up with names and debating the impression each would leave.
Twenty-one names based on important people, places and ideas were suggested.
Students at the school suggested Crownsville High School. The board rejected that, saying troubled teen-agers might be stigmatized by the similarity to the name of a state mental hospital.
Another suggestion, Arundel Academy, upset some residents, who complained about using anything that sounded like Anne Arundel Academy, the name of a defunct school in Millersville.
When Michael A. Pace, then a board member, came up with Providence Academy, the board welcomed it because it was the name of the first settlement in Anne Arundel County in the 1600s and because "providence" means foresight.
The board liked the name even after Associate Superintendent Kenneth G. Lawson pointed out that it already was the name of an area program for the disabled.
Shortly after the school was named, officials at the Providence Center in Severna Park complained that the name was too similar to their program's, which helps the disabled find jobs.
The center officials said the similarity would make it difficult for them to raise money for their program.
The Providence Center officials tried to contact county school board members to work out their differences. But letters from politicians and top educators went unanswered, and the center appealed to the state school board, which scheduled an administrative hearing.
Two months ago, just before the hearing, the county board voted unanimously to change the name.
Pub Date: 5/21/98