River Hill High's team spirit in the works Students of future school meet to discuss identity

March 20, 1996|By Diane E. Otts | Diane E. Otts,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Future students of River Hill High School came together for the first time last week, hoping to influence the choice of school mascot, team uniforms, activities and student government the stuff of which school spirit is made.

Wearing a polo shirt featuring the new school's colors of sky blue and gold, Principal Scott Pfeifer welcomed the standing-room-only crowd of teens, parents, teachers and administrators Thursday and asked them to brainstorm about the school in Columbia's final village, River Hill.

Now, the 2-year-old building houses Wilde Lake High School, whose students were displaced while their school is being rebuilt. But next fall, some 249 students from Atholton High, 179 from Glenelg High, 219 from three middle schools and an untold number from magnet schools will come together to create River Hill High School.

River Hill isn't the only high school opening next year. Across town, Long Reach students and parents are having similar meetings to create a school there.

School officials are aware that some students, such as ninth-grader Ingrid Frank, may regret having to leave their old schools.

"I didn't like [the idea of changing schools] at first, because I like Atholton so much," Miss Frank said. "I'm gradually getting more excited."

To help the students feel more at home in their new school, officials sought their input on some of the issues that create a school's identity.

But one choice had already been made. The school colors light blue and gold were picked three years ago by a committee appointed by the Board of Education. Although several students said they would have chosen different colors, they quickly moved on to the choices that they could influence.

Assistant Principal Barry Odell fielded suggestions for the school mascot. The teens eagerly suggested dozens of mascots that ranged from traditional to bold to a little odd: Razorbacks, Blue Devils, River Rats, Raptors, Engineers, Roughnecks, Billy Goats, Goldfish.

A steering committee of students and parents will narrow that list.

Kelly Magruder, an eighth-grader at the 2 1/2 -year-old Mount View Middle School who will attend River Hill, is a veteran of such brainstorming sessions.

"I went to a new middle school, too. We got to pick things there, and I liked that," she said.

In the cafeteria, students had a chance to study proposed uniforms, seals, letters and class rings and fill out surveys to help with the selection process.

The tables were crowded with students responding to surveys, but a representative of a uniform company said it was hard to tell if clear favorites emerged. "They're looking for a consensus, but they could end up with 300 more ideas," said Jim Emery of Maryland Athletics and Corps Supply.

Indeed, in one room, school clubs were suggested more quickly than they could be recorded.

The student government session was more subdued. Students and parents discussed ways to delay class elections long enough to allow students to get to know one another, but not so long that school events would suffer.

Students also listed traditions from their old schools that they would like to see continued at River Hill. Atholton students were particularly hopeful that River Hill would have its own version of "the wall" Atholton's 20-foot wall that each class decorates with a theme.

In its first year, River Hill won't have a senior class. Eleventh graders will remain in their present schools for their senior year.

Mr. Pfeifer, the principal, said he thought the evening went well. "I was encouraged that there was so much enthusiasm," he said. "But it will be hard for those kids [who] are transferring from the high schools, because they love their schools."

Hoping his school will inspire such loyalty, he said, "Tonight, we took an important step in helping the kids build a bit of an identity with River Hill."

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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