New learning environment

Move: Excited pupils and staff from Marley Elementary School explore their new facility, adjacent to the old one.

Education Beat

News From Anne Arundel County School And Colleges

April 03, 2005|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Tyler Hamrick couldn't restrain his joy at everything he saw.

As his teacher, Kim Chesek, pointed out new kitchen appliances, bathroom and the globe in the special-education room, the 8-year-old third-grader responded repeatedly with a squeaky "Wow!"

Teachers and staff at Marley Elementary School had good reason to expect many more exclamations of glee last week, as they moved into their new $16.3 million facility in Glen Burnie, adjacent to the former building.

Children attended classes for the first time there Friday.

"Their mouths are going to drop," Principal Nina C. Griffith said a few days before classes.

The move was scheduled for winter break, but repairs after vandalism at the school in September delayed the opening.

The vandals set several fires, and the cafeteria, kitchen and gym sustained the most damage. Graffiti was painted in the media center. The two classroom wings were not damaged.

In addition to spring break, classes were canceled for five days, giving teachers and staff extra time to pack up the old building and settle into the new.

Children visited the school March 18, before they left for break. Most carried their books and personal items in paper grocery bags.

"We just wanted them to know they had a space of their own," said kindergarten teacher Michelle Colaric as she sorted books and toys for her new classroom.

Each child also will receive a hardcover book with a bookplate commemorating their status as the school's first pupils, Griffith said.

Some pupils were housed in portable classrooms at the old school, a 52-year-old building that was clearly showing its age.

"It was falling down around us," Griffith said.

Teachers and staff were as excited about the features of the new building as they were about the basics, such as big windows in every classroom, as well as a bathroom and utility sink.

Physical education teacher Amy Mueller was enthusiastic about the rock-climbing wall. But the permanent basketball hoops and official-dimension wooden playing floor really pleased her.

In the old building, she held classes in an area that combined the gym and cafeteria.

"We can practice skills a little more realistically," Mueller said.

Food service workers Doris Wise and Pat Smith relished the new appliances, including a washer and dryer, which means they no longer have to take washrags home for laundering.

For all the new features, however, Tyler was duly impressed by the books, puzzles and other items from his old classroom.

"Look at that!" said Chesek, his teacher, pointing to paper plates, cups and other items stacked in cabinets, which the class will use for cooking projects.

"That's for my birthday," Tyler said, as he peered inside.

As for the old school, it will be demolished after contractors remove hazardous materials such as asbestos.

In its place will be playing fields, which should be ready for play by fall 2006.

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