School For Mavericks

Manchester Valley High Opens To About 600 Students, Easing Crowding At North Carroll

August 26, 2009|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,arin.gencer@baltsun.com

A pack of Mavericks has joined the ranks of Carroll students this year, as the new Manchester Valley High School opened its doors on a bright, cool Tuesday morning, welcoming nearly 600 freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

The school's inaugural year comes after a lengthy push - and much debate and controversy - from northeast-area residents, who sought a school to relieve crowding at Hampstead's North Carroll High. Along with the usual sounds of lockers slamming and students shuffling from class to class in the wide, airy hallways, a distinct sense - and smell - of newness also permeated the building. Glossy floors. Unblemished carpets. Unused desks. Unopened books. Amid the new, there is also a lot of green: geothermal wells, waterless urinals, high-velocity hand dryers and sensory lights, among a number of other features.

"It's outstanding," said Principal Randy Clark, who, like many of the faculty, was wearing a navy blue Manchester Valley shirt for the first day. "A lot of people put in a tremendous amount of time and effort just to make this happen."

Parents and students had a chance Monday afternoon to tour the new facility, which was budgeted at $70 million, and expressed admiration for it.

"It just seems so modern," said Kelly Caples, whose son, Jake, was one of the guides. "I'm happy to see it. I think we needed it."

Several parents also pointed out that their children, particularly the younger classes, have a better chance of making the Mavericks sports teams with fewer students - and no seniors. Jake Caples, a junior, saw another perk: "We're pretty much seniors for two years," the 16-year-old said.

Yet fellow junior James Richardson, 15, said he had mixed feelings: While he enjoyed the novelty of the school, he was sorry to leave friends who remained at North Carroll.

On Tuesday, sophomore Megan Donovan shared those feelings, also noting how empty the parking lot was with only the juniors' cars to fill it. But emptiness has its benefits, too, she said. "I like how it's not so crowded in the locker sections," Donovan, 15, said.

She and her peers in Beth Christmann's class were encouraged to consider their unique position.

"We have to establish traditions, customs," said Christmann, whose toes were painted in the Mavericks' blue and silver-gray. "It's exciting. But it also requires everybody in the school."

Her students set to work creating a mural in which each depicted what part of a city they felt they would represent. The results included a hospital, soccer field, dirt-bike track and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Recognizing the uniqueness of the day, the school ran on a different schedule, with plans for a complimentary picnic lunch from its parent advisory committee, as well as a presentation in the afternoon.

"We just want to make it a special day," Clark said. "Then, on Wednesday, we'll get down to business."

Still, most other school norms were observed Tuesday, as Clark made abundantly clear while greeting students stepping off the buses in the morning.

"Don't forget your hat," he said to several boys just before they strode through the clear glass doors. "I like that one."

The teens quickly slipped the caps off. School had officially begun.

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