Glenelg Country turns 50

Milestone: The independent school plans a weeklong celebration of a half-century of service.

Education Beat

News From Howard County Schools And Colleges

April 03, 2005|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Glenelg Country School will kick off its 50th anniversary tomorrow with a weeklong celebration that will include the formal dedication of state-of-the-art academic and athletic buildings that cost a total of about $15 million.

"What we have here is the fulfillment of the dreams and visions of many people, especially [founders] Kingdon and Mary Gould," said the headmaster, Ryland O. Chapman III. "The school's reputation has been built by the quality of its teachers. Now, we have the facilities, and it's just wonderful to have this kind of growth."

Glenelg, an independent, coeducational college preparatory day school, opened in 1954. Thirty-five students in kindergarten through eighth grade were taught by a faculty of five people.

Throughout the years, the school's population grew, land was purchased and buildings and classrooms added. Today, the school has an enrollment of 765 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

In January, the school opened its 30,000-square-foot academic building and 45,000-square-foot athletic center. The academic building is equipped with, among other things, a library and computer and science laboratories.

The athletic center includes two performance courts, locker rooms, team meeting rooms and an exercise-weight room complete with cardiovascular machines and free weights.

"It's fabulous," said Al Poklemba, director of athletics at Glenelg Country. "For a facility for a high school, it's more than adequate."

Poklemba said that before the new athletic center opened, he had trouble scheduling practices for the school's sports teams because of limited space.

Now that there's more space, said Poklemba, the school plans to begin wrestling and volleyball programs.

"This is the springboard of our athletics program," he said.

During a recent gym class in the athletic center, pupils commented on the new facility.

"I love it. I think it's really cool," said Victoria Northrop, 12.

"The floors are a lot better, and it's bigger than the old gym," said Brittney Jorgenson, 11.

Added Roman Braglio, 11, "It's a lot more useful than the old gym. It's bigger, so you can play more sports in here at one time."

Dr. Tarun Saini, an orthodontist and member of Glenelg's board of trustees, was in the school's first high school graduating class in 1989. He said he is thrilled about the new facilities and recalled lessons he learned at the school.

"One of the things I learned is the ability to think critically," said Saini, president of the school's alumni association.

He added that he had an edge in college and dental school because his teachers required him to write so much.

"The concept of asking students to defend their opinions on paper is a lifelong skill," Saini said.

Chapman said Glenelg's students do so well, in part, because of the school's small class sizes. "The most wonderful thing is that we still have small class sizes," said Chapman. "Our average class is 15, and student-teacher ratio is 8 to 1."

Glenelg's anniversary celebration is to include these events:

Unveiling of the Glenelg Country School statue at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by formal dedication of the academic and athletic buildings, with a speech by Dr. William R. Brody, president of the Johns Hopkins University

Symposium on independent education in America, open to the public. The event is to take place at 2 p.m. Friday in the Mulitz Theater at the school. Scheduled panelists include state and college dignitaries, among them Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Patrick F. Bassett, president of the National Association of Independent Schools.

A bull and oyster roast for the school community is to be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and a black-tie gala is planned for 7 p.m. Saturday. Both events are to be held in the athletic center.

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