Board names alternative school Providence

April 03, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Providence Academy. That's the name.

After weeks of discussion and angst, the Anne Arundel County school board chose as the name for its new alternative high school the same name that immigrants to the county in the 1600s chose for their colony.

The board agreed unanimously yesterday on "Providence Academy" -- even after Associate Superintendent Kenneth G. Lawson pointed out that it's the name of a program for the disabled.

Last month, the board rejected the students' suggestion of Crownsville High School because they worried that troubled teen-agers would be stigmatized by a reference to a state mental hospital.

The school is on the grounds of Crownsville Hospital Center, which in an earlier era was a segregated facility, a reference people either found offensive or did not want to call attention to.

Members decided the name similarity to the private Providence program for the disabled would not bring any problems.

School board member Michael A. Pace came up with Providence Academy.

"It represented new beginnings for people who came to this country," Pace said. "It has historical significance. Equally important, the word providence means planning for the future."

The Providence colony was not in Crownsville, where the school for disruptive high school students is located, but near Annapolis.

Steven White Jr., the student member of the school board, said he was tired of the controversy.

"The success of the students will determine the reputation of the school," he said. "The name doesn't really matter."

White said the board knew in January that it didn't want the name Crownsville, but never made that clear to students, who were simply asked to vote on a name. Ideally, he said, the whole process should start again with the students.

Not only students, but community members joined in the search for the name.

Twenty-one names based on important people, places and ideas were suggested.

The first name that came into play, Arundel Academy, upset local blue bloods, who bristled at using anything that sounded like Anne Arundel Academy, the name of a now-defunct semiprivate school in Millersville.

Pub Date: 4/03/97

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