Calvert School opens new era

Ceremony: Eighty fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders occupy the $12.5 million new middle school, just off Charles Street in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood in Baltimore.

January 30, 2003|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Calvert School sixth-graders Stacey Collins and Taylor Adams were so excited about moving into their new middle school building yesterday that they had already cleared out their lockers and were waiting in a basement classroom for word to relocate.

About 9:45 a.m., carrying backpacks, laptop computers and a shopping bag filled with gym clothes, basketball shoes and a dry-erase board, the two 12-year-olds linked arms as they walked along a paved pathway to the new building.

Led by a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace," the entire school of nearly 400 pupils, faculty and staff joined the parade to the three-story building for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

"It's really exciting because we have been waiting for it to be finished," Stacey said.

"Now we have our own building," Taylor added.

Four years after the idea of building a middle school was first broached with the Calvert School board of trustees, the $12.5 million building, just off Charles Street in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood in Baltimore, was ready for occupancy by the school's 80 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders.

"Parents had asked us for years to start a middle school because they liked the environment here," Headmaster Merrill S. Hall III said. "When the board decided to go ahead with a middle school, we didn't know when, how or where it would be built."

Started in 1897, Calvert School had pupils in primary through sixth grade until this year, when the seventh grade was added. Eighth-grade classes will be added in the 2003-2004 school year. Grades prekindergarten though four are in Calvert's longtime building across Tuscany Road from the new middle school.

Hall said a steering committee, made up of trustees, parents and faculty, spent a year making decisions on such topics as what grades to include, curriculum, diversity and athletics. Committee members also visited numerous middle schools on the East Coast before a decision was made to include fifth through eighth grade in the new school.

Calvert acquired about 11 acres in the summer of 2000 to build the 62,000-square-foot structure that was designed with four pods, one each for the fifth, sixth, seven and eighth grades; a theater; science labs, a fitness center; music and art rooms; and a gymnasium. An atrium from the new building connects to a brick house that is being renovated as a library. The school also gained two new athletic fields.

"We got an amazing amount of use out of this irregular space on a hillside," Hall said. "Everyone I have spoken to really thinks that the building is impressive and it is a visual improvement."

Constructing the building, however, was not without acrimonious discussions between the school and the neighborhood association. The sides settled their differences in the summer of 2001, and ground was broken for the new building in November 2001.

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