This summer marks a significant milestone in the 21st Century School Buildings Program as construction has begun on the next set of schools in the program. To mark this momentous occasion, students, staff, communities, and partners gathered at the Arlington School site on July 26 to celebrate this phase of the program.
Attendees took photos in front of large architectural renderings of schools where construction has begun or is set to begin soon: REACH! Partnership (Fairmount-Harford Building), Bay-Brook, John Ruhrah, Arlington, and Calvin M. Rodwell. Students from the schools addressed the crowd, sharing their thoughts on what a new school means and what they are most looking forward to when they begin at their new buildings. Lanyia, who will be in sixth grade when the new Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary/Middle School opens in 2020*, told the audience, "I love my school but I'm ready for the new building."
Local hiring is a very important component of the 21st Century School Buildings Program. To date, 163 Baltimore City residents were hired to work on the first four school projects, exceeding the local hiring goal by 39%. An Assistant Project Manager position was filled by long-time local resident, Sarsfield Williams, Jr., for the recently modernized Dorothy I. Height Elementary School.
Sarsfield’s connection to the Reservoir Hill community, home to the new Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, goes back many generations. His father was born around the corner from the school, formerly known as John Eager Howard School, and his grandmother lived just a few blocks away. Sarsfield takes pride in his neighborhood of over ten years and the work that was done to improve the school. “We are talking about a community that was central to all of our people’s progress,” he says. “So, in that light, it was an absolute honor to be part of building an educational institution in my community.”
Working on Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, named after the famed civil rights leader, has been “one of the greatest experiences” of Sarsfield’s life. “Ultimately, we’re not really here that long,” says Sarsfield. “You want to be able to make an impact and hopefully help improve the quality of life for others—there’s no greater tool than education to be able to do that.”
Throughout the pre-construction and construction process, the community surrounding the school was very involved, attending meetings and providing valuable feedback. “We were always bombarded with questions,” he recalls, “but mostly excitement because they could see that the investment was real and the time they spent was really influencing what the building would turn out to be.”
All of the work Sarsfield did on the project came to full fruition the first time he saw students using the building after it opened in April of 2018. “It’s greater than a dream come true to be part of this. I’m most excited to see what the kids are going to do in this new building,” he says. “You’re talking about some of the most creative, intelligent, ingenious young people in the world. And now you give them a facility that says, ‘We believe in you. And not only do we believe in you, we believe in your future, we believe in your family, and in your community.’ The stage is set for these young people.”
Visit us online for current 21st Century School Buildings job openings.
This summer, the 21st Century School Buildings Program welcomed two YouthWorks interns, Britney and Ashley. Both enjoyed the opportunity to visit school buildings under construction, record community feedback, provide data entry, call parents and guardians with important information, and document time capsules. Ashley said she most enjoyed meeting diverse groups of professionals. Britney liked visiting the schools best. One thing they both had fun doing was serving at the 'Snowballs and Surveys' event to students and parents at Wildwood Elementary/Middle School in an effort to collect feedback on what the new school's mascot should be.
When asked what they like about the modernized 21st Century school buildings, Ashley said, “They look ten times better than my school and have better equipment. Hopefully it makes kids learn better and go to school” says Ashley. “The buildings are bigger and better for kids and has a good view of outside” says Britney.
Britney is a recent graduate of the glorious Forest Park High School, whose new school building is set to open in September. “I’m upset because I’m not there to experience the new building, but I’m also happy because I had the opportunity to visit it,” Britney says. “The new students will love it as just as I did. But now, they will have a wonderful time in a new school. It will feel like home.” As part of her work with us this summer, Britney had the opportunity to examine a time capsule from the old building. “One thing that caught my attention was how different Forest Park students' clothes and hairstyles were in the past compared to now.”
As with other interns who have worked with 21st Century Schools, Britney and Ashley have goals. Without goals, where would you be in life? “I want to be a softball coach. A team is like a family. Coaches are like mothers and fathers, they have a special bond with the team. My coaches helped me not be anti-social,” says Britney. “I want to be an entrepreneur, forensic scientist, or an OB-GYN,” says Ashley.
Where will our interns be in the fall? Britney will begin her first year at Towson University and will rejoin the 21st Century School Building Program staff as a college intern. Ashley will return to Mergenthaler High School as a senior and will continue working her part-time food service job.
-by Alisha Coates, College Intern
Final touches are being made on five new, modernized school buildings—Pimlico Elementary/Middle, Arundel Elementary, Cherry Hill Elementary Middle, Forest Park High, and Robert Poole Building (home to ACCE and Independence High Schools)—as part of the 21st Century School Buildings Program. Doors will open to students at the start of the 2018/2019 school year. Community-wide ribbon cutting events will be held for to celebrate the momentous occasions.
Join us at these community-wide ribbon cutting celebrations:
- Pimlico Elementary/Middle School
August 20th, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
- Arundel Elementary & Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School
August 21st, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
- Independence & ACCE High Schools (Robert Poole Building)
August 22nd, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
- Forest Park High School
August 22nd, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
I am very pleased to announce the start of construction on five additional school buildings this summer and the official opening of five newly modernized school buildings in August – just in time for the new school year:
I want to congratulate our 21st Century School Buildings team and thank our partners at the IAC, MSA, and Baltimore City on this remarkable accomplishment. It is difficult to overstate the amount of hard work and long hours our team has invested in this achievement, in order to make our dream of creating comfortable, high quality learning environments a reality for more of our students, families, and staff.
These buildings are symbols of our commitment – as a district, as a city, and as a society – to the wellbeing and success of our young people. And they are proof - to those students and their families – that our commitment is real and that our concern for their success is sincere.
Please accept my congratulations and heartfelt thanks for your dedication!
Sonja Brookins Santelises, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools