Spalding planning $8 million expansion

New stadium, arts and technology building expected to open within 2 years

November 07, 2007|By Ruma Kumar | Ruma Kumar,Sun reporter

The track team at Archbishop Spalding High School can't practice at its own school. Instead, it has to share practice time with track teams at nearby public schools.

The fields at the Severn Catholic school are so aged and worn that even a light rain has canceled games. It takes about a week for the fields to recover and become safe enough for play.

But plans for a $1.7 million athletic stadium with a track would improve conditions for the school's athletes and expand opportunities for more students to join sports teams.

Limited field space has narrowed opportunities for freshmen athletes, something school officials say the new stadium will rectify.

The school plans to spend the next 10 to 11 months raising money for the project. It expects to break ground on the 2,000-seat stadium by spring 2008. School officials said it could be open as early as later that summer.

The new stadium is the first phase of a larger expansion, which includes plans for a $6.3 million arts and technology building.

The arts and technology building would greatly expand the amount of space for students in the music, performing arts and visual arts programs and would increase capacity for a burgeoning technology program that school officials say will make their math and science courses more competitive.

"It's amazing, but with each incoming class of freshman coming to us, we see students with a more gifted, more sophisticated skill set," said Spalding Principal Kathy Mahar.

"So we're in a perennial review of our program. By being able to expand technologically, we have to be able to stay competitive, to be able to challenge these students. This [arts and technology building] helps us expand our potential."

Construction on the arts and technology building is expected to start in August or September next year and be ready for students the following fall, said Michael Murphy, the school's president.

The recently launched $8 million expansion follows the construction of a new gym with eight classrooms and fitness center a year and a half ago.

The new gym and classrooms were the first enhancement to the Severn school's campus since 1966, Murphy said.

He said the expansion is long overdue. Much has changed, he said, in the more than four decades since the school started as an all-girls school with 450 students . It has since grown into a co-ed school with 1,157 students.

"We're in a constant review about what we do and how we do it," Murphy said. "What worked in schools 20 years ago doesn't work anymore."

Murphy also said the school has significantly beefed up its college-track courses, adding six Advanced Placement courses in the last three years, bringing the school's total to 19.

The new technology building dovetails into that effort, Murphy said, because the use of computers ratchets up the level of work students can do in physics, math and other sciences.

Murphy said he has begun discussions with local companies that can provide students with internships in engineering fields, for instance, so that they can see how technology is applied in the real world and then practice the same applications at their school.

The new arts and technology building is also a response to growing interest among new students in the performing arts.ruma.kumar@baltsun.com

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