Lutheran school to add center for arts, worship

Building expected to cost $3.5 million to $4.5 million

July 04, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Lutheran School is planning add a 35,000- to 45,000-square-foot fine arts and worship center on its campus in Towson, a project officials expect to be ready by the 2004-2005 school year.

The building would house instrumental music, theater, drama, art and photography classrooms and would include an auditorium for school concerts and other activities, said Headmaster Randal C. Gast.

The project, approved by the board of trustees, is expected to cost between $3.5 million and $4.5 million, he said.

"My goal is to break ground this fall," Gast said. "It is imperative that parents see progress right now. Parents and students are ready for this expansion."

Jacquelin K. Seaborn, director of admissions, said the school needs to grow.

"More than 25 percent of our students are enrolled in the instrumental music program, and it would be appropriate to have a building to house these programs," she said.

Gast called the planned facility the "final centerpiece" at the 24-acre campus off Cromwell Bridge Road.

He said the school might create some new athletic fields on campus, but expansion is limited by the school's location - nestled between the Beltway and the Hunt Crest Estates neighborhood.

"There are protected woods that abut the Beltway at the end of our property," Gast said. "It's not uncommon to see deer running on the campus."

The center is expected to help accommodate the growing student body.

Gast said that enrollment in September will increase 15 percent to 17 percent over last year's, with the total number of students expected to reach 500. The school includes grades six through 12.

"The increase was a bit of a concern," Gast said recently. "We couldn't handle any more."

Gast originally expected enrollment in September to increase 7 percent to 8 percent, but the number of applications pushed the number considerably higher.

He said that 10 Lutheran elementary schools feed into Baltimore Lutheran, the only church-affiliated middle and high school in the area.

Gast attributed part of the increase in enrollment to the school's academic and technology programs. But he also said families are looking for options.

"I believe that families want a safe, secure and moral environment for their children," he said. "We give people a comfort zone; there's continuity and consistency here."

Baltimore Lutheran opened in 1965. It is a private coeducational Christian day school that offers a college preparatory program.

Students come from all over the metropolitan area, including Anne Arundel and Carroll counties, as well as southern Pennsylvania, Gast said.

About 20 percent come from Harford County, he said, with most students averaging a 25-minute commute to school.

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