'Rededication' of Taneytown Elementary set Sunday 45-year-old school renovated, expanded

November 02, 1995|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

An article yesterday in The Sun for Carroll County gave the incorrect date for a dedication ceremony at Taneytown Elementary School. The even will be at 3 p.m. Nov. 12.

The Sun regrets the error.

Forty-five years to the day after the dedication of Taneytown Elementary, school officials are about to do it all over again.

The "rededication" ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday. The school reopened to students in September after a $6.6 million renovation and expansion. An open house last month drew about 1,200 visitors, Principal Larry R. McKinney said.


At the time of the original ceremony, Mr. McKinney was a second-grader, a mischievous child who was punished that year for writing his name on the wall of the new school. He didn't dream that he would be at the microphone when the building was rededicated or that in 1966 he would begin teaching in his former school.

Inside the renovated building, a painting remains on a wall in tribute to former Principal Frank O. Wargny, who believed that children's behavior reflects their surroundings.

Mr. Wargny started allowing students to use the walls as canvases for paintings in 1965, after he observed how the art in Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption seemed to inspire quiet, reverent behavior.

"It seemed to me that if schools could be made beautiful, it would affect the behavior of children," he said. He began with one boy; soon all the students wanted to paint.

The students moved on, but they didn't forget.

"On dark winter afternoons," Mr. Wargny recalled, "I would be in the hall and there would be a high school kid from Francis Scott Key, looking at the picture he'd painted."

Taneytown's growth began to outpace the school's capacity about 10 years after the building opened. The school board added four classrooms and a cafeteria in 1962, brought in four portables in 1966, and moved the fifth and sixth grades to Northwest Middle School in 1968.

Crowding continued in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1989, 425 third- , fourth- and fifth-graders were housed at Northwest Middle School, and an equal number of kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in the original elementary school. When the renovation began last year, all elementary school classes were housed in the middle school.

"After 35 years of all the shuffling and changing, it's a rewarding experience to finally have it back together as an elementary school," Mr. McKinney said.

The renovated school has 560 students, about 40 fewer than capacity. On tours through the building, Mr. McKinney proudly points out the luxury of storage space for the media center and a Head Start classroom with a kitchenette.

Mr. Wargny, who became principal of the school in 1953 and remained for 24 years, still lives in Taneytown. One of the small pleasures of retirement is that former students frequently approach him and reminisce, he said. If Mr. Wargny's legend is wall paintings, Mr. McKinney said he'd like his to be "being principal of the [renovated] school when it opened."

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