South Shore Elementary School in Crownsville -- an $8.2 million school that opened yesterday with features including a carpeted gym, a computerized alarm system, even an office for the janitor -- is like no other school in the county.
In the 1300 block of Fairfield Loop Road, it's the first new school to open this fall. The county's other new school, the $10 million Meade Heights Elementary, has been stalled by construction errors and cannot open until Sept. 17.
The old South Shore Elementary, built in 1957, was so badly in need of renovations that administrators decided it was cheaper to start from scratch.
The old building was torn down two years ago, and students spent the 1996-1997 school year at Annapolis Middle, about five miles away.
That ended yesterday. "It's bigger and [with] more space and prettier," said 8-year-old Shante Jones, a fourth-grader who had attended school at the older building, which she recalled as smaller and less modern.
As she and 254 other children arrived at the 49,000-square-foot school, "there were really no troubles, and it went off very smoothly," Principal Elizabeth Kiefer said.
Inside, the lobby has the feel of an ultra-modern office, with gray modular furniture and a high-tech alarm system that can alert administrators to fires, security violations or electrical problems.
The main office, the hub of the one-story school, still has that new-building smell and 16 boxes, containing everything from pretzels to audiovisual equipment, piled against the wall.
The 14 classrooms are set up in seven pairs, each pair sharing a bathroom, a planning area for teachers and storage space. Eleven classrooms are being used; the other three will be used as homes are built in the neighborhood and enrollment swells to match the capacity of 326.
Some of South Shore's features are typical of new schools: a 33-station computer laboratory with chairs that can be adjusted to the child's height, a media center with subscriptions to such magazines as Ranger Riding, Girl's Life and Sports Illustrated for Kids, and a science lab with microscopes.
But this school has other innovations: a "pro-gym" with three basketball hoops, padded walls, a storage room filled with Hula Hoops, scooters, a balance beam and a gray carpet with stripes painted on it.
"It's great for noise reduction; it's great for safety," Kiefer said. "It's just as hard [a surface] to bounce a ball."
Then there's the observation room in the speech pathology room. When Julie Rankin, the speech-language pathologist, is helping students pronounce their R's and W's, their parents can learn how to help them at home by observing through a large window in a narrow adjacent room.
Down the hall, the school custodian has a private office with a desk, a chair and cabinets.
A few doors past that is the "cafetorium," a combination lunch room and auditorium with a piano, where a roomful of younger children met for the first of two periods of lunch at 11: 30 a.m.
"I wonder what they have for lunch," said 6-year-old Andrew Coccoli, holding two dollar bills. Servers offered the children beef on rolls, string beans, browned potatoes and chocolate milk, while dozens of other students with packed lunch boxes tested the room.
The new health suite in the office received a few students, including Saralyn Silbert, 9, who got blisters on her ankles from wearing new black sandals.
"We've only had blisters and a nosebleed and two upset stomachs," said health assistant Beverlyann Foley. "That was probably nerves."
Pub Date: 8/28/97