Norbel School officials thank community for its support

News from Elkridge

July 15, 2011|By Lisa Madera

I received an open letter from Krys Renzi, the former marketing director of the Norbel School, and she asked that I share the news that will so adversely affect the learning disabled students that will not return to these halls of hope, and also with a heavy heart for those who will never know what could have been.

As some of you may have heard, Norbel School has shuttered their doors after nearly 30 years of existence, 11 of those years in Elkridge at the former home of the old Elkridge Elementary School on Old Washington Road. I received an open letter from Krys Renzi, the former marketing director of the school, and she asked that I share the news that will so adversely affect the learning disabled students that will not return to these halls of hope, and also with a heavy heart for those who will never know what could have been.

According to Renzi, "When Norbel moved to Elkridge in 2000, it was a bad year for the stock market, renovations were much more expensive than anticipated, and enrollment numbers failed to meet the financial demands. Today's economic climate has also had a profound impact on many of our family's finances, donor contributions and business organizations that support our school.

The Board of Directors and the school's Leadership Team have worked tirelessly to increase enrollment, raise money through donor contributions and annual giving, pursue grant opportunities, join groups and organizations to gain community exposure, and meet with referring professionals to spread the word about Norbel and its mission. We have made good strides, but time has not been on our side, and the board made the decision to close our doors on June 30th, 2011. This news was an incredible shock to our entire Norbel community.

I would like to thank the community for the support that you have given to Norbel. I have enjoyed every moment of my years here, not only as a parent, but also as an employee. I feel blessed that my son was able to complete his education at Norbel and benefit from the school's outstanding educational program. My heart goes out to the parents who must now seek an alternative placement for their own learning disabled child(ren). I have enjoyed working with the extraordinary faculty and administration that have dedicated their careers to serve a very deserving population of children. Again, thank you for the opportunity to work together to give learning disabled children the tools they needed to reach their potential."

Thank you, Krys. Here's wishing the faculty, staff and students the best possible solutions following this very difficult decision.

Margaret Mead, an early 20th century American scientist, must have had the Elkridge community of Lawyers Hill in mind when she said, "never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

You cannot speak of the Elk Ridge Assembly Rooms without giving full credit to its existence to its immediate neighbors. Dating back to 1869, this building was originally constructed as a "neighborhood parlor" by Judge George W. Dobbin, the first to build a summer home on "the Hill." The Dobbin family came first to this remote, undeveloped region, thanks largely to the construction of the Thomas Viaduct, which was completed in 1835. With rail access across the Patapsco River, many attorney colleagues and friends of the good Judge followed the Dobbins to this newfound oasis in Elkridge, thus aptly naming the area "Lawyers Hill."

According to http://www.elkridgeassemblyrooms.org "social and cultural activities have always been a vital part of community life on the Hill. The center of these activities was the Elk Ridge Assembly Rooms, a small theater and dance hall funded by residents and constructed in 1871 on donated property at the junction of Lawyers Hill Road and Old Lawyers Hill Road. Today, the Hall continues to be the focal point of the Lawyers Hill community."

Judge Dobbin had the Elk Ridge Assembly room built with the intention of it specifically serving as a place of joy and celebrations to help heal any wounds within the neighborhood that might have been caused by the Civil War, a war that was known for grossly dividing small communities. According to most historical sources, "the Assembly Room held its first social event with an Inaugural Ball Nov. 8, 1870 and held an amateur production of "The Rivals" Nov. 11.

The performances at the Assembly Room were presented by the Elk Ridge Amateur Dramatic Association, which was a self-named group of thespians, comprised of residents within the immediate community. According to the website, these productions became so popular that tickets were sold in Baltimore with the train schedule from Camden Station to Elkridge printed on the reverse side.

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