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Pupils, alumni and teachers gather to reminisce at Marley Middle, which will be relocating in the fall to a new, modern facility


This fall, the new Marley Middle School opens in Glen Burnie, a $33 million facility equipped with air conditioning, large classrooms, science labs and the latest in educational technology.

But this week was a time for current and former pupils to spare a bit of sentiment for the school it will replace - the old Marley Middle School next door, where classes were held for the last time Monday. The building will be demolished this summer.

"There are a lot of memories in this place," said Frankie Bianco, who attended Marley Middle in the mid-1960s and who came back Monday with her brother Bill, who attended in the 1970s. As school wrapped up for the year, pupils, faculty and alumni said an emotional farewell to the old school, which opened in 1958.

Visitors could peruse old yearbooks, look at old mimeographed copies of faculty memos, and view handwritten PTA ledgers from the 1950s. Also on display were photographs and news clippings from the school building's opening.

Marley Junior High School, as it was called, was built to handle 1,506 pupils in 63 rooms, and the school was built without air conditioning.

But, since the celebrated opening, the 48-year-old school had become worn and fallen into disrepair. A display at Monday's ceremony showed photos of windowless and cramped classrooms, water-stained ceilings, peeling paint and portable classroom trailers.

The new school, built over two years, has larger classrooms, and more technology, said Alex Szachnowicz, the school system's acting director of facilities.

Teachers all will have laptops, and each classroom will have a projector system so teachers and students can make use of graphic computer presentations.

"It won't be a static presentation, like holding a poster board in the front of the room like it used to be," Szachnowicz said.

The science classrooms are equipped with labs like those that might be found in high schools, so that 25 pupils at a time can work on lab projects.

In the old school, the science labs had only a teaching station, and pupils could watch demonstrations. Now they will do their own experiments and be able to record their data using laptops and a data port.

"It's really a different school," Szachnowicz said. "If you think about how far we've come as a society, from 1958 to today, and what we expect at the college and even the high school level in respect to technology and computers, we want the facilities to be able to bolster that learning experience for them."

On Monday, alumni could relive some memories of junior high.

For Frankie and Bill Bianco, both of Glen Burnie, it was the first time back since they were pupils there. They took snapshots of some pages of the old yearbooks after they found themselves, friends and other siblings in the pages.

Frankie Bianco said she toured the home economics classroom, where she cooked for the first time and attempted to learn to sew.

"It looks so different now," she said, adding that in the 1960s there were no microwaves or dishwashers. And on Monday, there was no sign of the sewing machines that had given her so much trouble.

Neither of the Biancos was interested in touring the new school now. Bill Bianco's children will attend there in a few years, and he'll see it then, he said. Instead, the Biancos were there to remember the old days and celebrate the end of the building that was once a part of their lives.

As the flag was lowered for the last time, Principal Susan Cassidy asked that the lights be lowered in the cafeteria where the ceremony was held.

Participants watched as the flag was lowered down the rusty, peeling flagpole. After the flag was brought inside the school, the group, accompanied by a trumpet, sang "America the Beautiful" beneath the cafeteria's water-stained ceiling.

"Tomorrow morning, we will go back to registering new students," she said.


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