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Wilde Lake Middle prepares for new building

Howard County Times
Wilde Lake Middle awaits new net zero energy building

Wilde Lake Middle School in Columbia will have two first days of school this year. One Aug. 29, and the other in January in a brand new building.

Opening in 1969, with renovations in 1975 and 1996, the current school was due for a overhaul. The new Wilde Lake Middle School will be a net zero energy school, the first of its kind in Maryland. To achieve net zero energy, the school is designed to generate as much energy as it uses. Principal Anne Swartz said this policy will help students become more environmentally conscious.

"We want the school to run on its own energy sources," Swartz said.

The design of the building will provide many STEM learning opportunities for students, Swartz explained. Solar energy will power the building, a geothermal system will help balance the temperature, and indoor lighting will have occupancy sensor controls. The goal for the school is to become net zero energy in one year after it opens.

To help with the big move, a transition committee was established that includes school staff, students and PTA parents. Swartz said they are in the process of creating a new vision and mission statement for the new school.

"We want student voices on what students need," she said.

The new school will be larger by nearly 30,000 square feet, providing space for 752 students, compared to 506 students at the old location. The old location will be demolished and converted into a parking lot and part of a baseball field.

As of now, the construction is on track. The building is scheduled to be completed by the end of November. During December, Swartz said, the plan is to move things into the new building and get rid of the items they don't need. Staff members have participated in meetings with the construction team, and the school will start student field trips in December to get them acclimated to the building.

"With every transition, we have to make sure all groups feel comfortable moving into a new building," Swartz said.

Parents and community members will continue to get regular updates about the transition through the Howard County Public School System website. Swartz encouraged parents to stay updated, and help out if possible.

"It will be a positive experience when we're all working together," Swartz said. "Our students deserve this new experience."

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