Providence Academy will get another name Board makes change after center complains

March 20, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County school board is back in the name game.

Last spring, after weeks of angst and debate, the board voted to name its new alternative school in Crownsville Providence Academy. During its meeting Wednesday night, the members voted unanimously to change it because officials of the Providence Center in Severna Park had complained to the state school board that the name was too similar to that of their program that helps the disabled find jobs.

"Well, I think we will be open again to suggestions," said Paul Rudolph, school board vice president. "And we will have to make another selection. People are always welcome to come to the board meeting with suggestions or mail them to us."

The board will choose a new name by the end of this school year.

Rudolph said he hopes that picking a new name will not be as difficult or time-consuming as choosing the first one was.

"But I can't be sure about that," he said.

After discussing and rejecting several other names, Michael A. Pace, then a school board member, came up with Providence Academy because it was the name of the first settlement in Anne Arundel County in the 1600s and because the word providence means preparing for the future.

The board chose the name even after Associate Superintendent Kenneth G. Lawson pointed out that it was the name of a program for the disabled.

"We wanted to pick a name for the school that emphasized the positive aspects rather than the negative ones," said school board member Michael McNelly. "And at the time, we did not think it would be a problem."

It was a problem, however, for the Providence Center in Severna Park, where officials said the similarity in names made it difficult for them to raise money.

Providence Center officials tried to contact school board members in an effort to work out their differences. But letters from politicians and school officials went unanswered, and the center appealed the county board's decision to the state school board, which scheduled an administrative hearing.

School board member Joseph Foster said that is not the only reason the board agreed to make the switch.

"Since the Providence Center does an important service to the community, we realized that making this change was in the best interest to the community," Foster said.

After Wednesday night's vote, Charles Coble, the center's director, presented the school board with a model of the Thomas Point lighthouse made by students in the center's wood shop.

Pub Date: 3/20/98

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