Knight at school from its debut CENTRAL COUNTY--Arnold * Boradneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville


August 20, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

Twelve years after he welcomed Broadneck High School's first class, Principal Lawrence E. Knight is saying goodbye, "very, very satisfied" with his career, he says, and "with a sweet taste in my mouth."

Mr. Knight, 66, is retiring at the end of this month after 38 years in the county school system, the last dozen of them at Broadneck's helm.

"I think it's time. I just decided, really," Mr. Knight said. Serving as Broadneck's first and only principal has been a "wonderful experience," he said.

Under Mr. Knight's leadership, Broadneck has received recognition for academic and athletic achievements. In 1989, the school was awarded certificates of merit for its outstanding academic programs from the U.S. Department of Education and the state Department of Education.

"Our junior engineers have placed first or second in state contests for their inventions in the last two years," Mr. Knight said. "The year before last, they competed on a national basis and came in second."

Computers have been important to Broadneck's programs since the school opened in 1981 with 340 10th-graders. "We had so many Apple computers when we opened they called us the Apple Orchard of the county," he said.

Students used the ICONS project, a computer simulation

program run through the University of Maryland, to talk about issues such as world debt with teen-agers from several countries.

Even Broadneck's language department got in on the act, with its students translating answers from students in countries such as France or Spain.

For the last two years, Anne Arundel County's Teacher of the Year has come from Broadneck.

The baseball, basketball, lacrosse, girls' soccer and gymnastics teams have collectively won 10 state championships since the school opened. The stadium, completed in 1984, is named after Mr. Knight.

"Now we're looking forward to a $25 million school expansion project," he said. By 2000, Broadneck High may have nearly 2,000 students, nearly double the current enrollment.

Mr. Knight grew up in Virginia, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry at Virginia State College. He moved to Anne Arundel County to teach science for 11 years at Wiley H. Bates High School, the only high school for blacks in the county during segregation, then presided over the 1974 opening of Severn River Junior High School before he went on to develop the start-up plans for Broadneck.

Although the school has won honors under his leadership, the staff and students have experienced their share of tragedy, too.

In November, Brian Arthur Tate, a former Broadneck High School quarterback, pleaded guilty to the murder of Jerry Lee Haines, a rival suitor. In May, another shooting that involved Broadneck students drew public attention.

"Tragedies can be emotionally devastating to a student body, and to a staff," Mr. Knight said. "Sometimes you look at the situation and say, 'We have more than anybody else'. But you have to deal with them, and it's very unpleasant."

Another continuing challenge has been trying to motivate some students who have "no real outlook on life," Mr. Knight said. "You have to keep working with them and struggling, trying to get them to see that 10 years from now they're going to need what they're learning."

And, with all that behind him, what now?

"For a few days, I'll take a vacation," he said. But then, he plans to find a project in which to get involved.

"One of my pet projects now is the state task force on changing graduation requirements," he said. "I think I'll keep myself very busy."

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