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New Earth-Friendly School Is A Groundbreaker in St. Mary's

With shovels are, from left, Salvatore L. Raspa, Nancy S. Grasmick, Michael J. Martirano, Cathy Allen, Praveen Ramaswamy and William M. Mattingly.
With shovels are, from left, Salvatore L. Raspa, Nancy S. Grasmick, Michael J. Martirano, Cathy Allen, Praveen Ramaswamy and William M. Mattingly. (By Zina Mcgowan-thomas -- St. Mary's County Public Schools)

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By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 1, 2007

St. Mary's County broke ground Monday morning for Evergreen Elementary School, which will be the county's first new school since 1980.

"This is a very historic occasion," School Superintendent Michael J. Martirano said during a ceremony near the school site in California.

Dozens of school, county and state officials attended the groundbreaking for Evergreen, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2009-10 academic year. Heavy rains at the end of last week left the construction site muddy, so organizers set up a symbolic groundbreaking at a nearby field in the Wildewood development.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick attended the event and applauded the project, saying the new school would provide "a memorable environment" for students. "I am thrilled about this building," she said.

Salvatore L. Raspa, chairman of the county Board of Education, called the school an "architectural accomplishment beyond imagination." County Commissioner Daniel H. Raley (D-Great Mills) said the school's $20 million cost is justified because educating children is a top priority.

The environment and responsible energy-use are central themes for the design of the school, which will feature vegetation on the roofs, waterless urinals, natural lighting, geothermal energy, building materials made from recycled goods and rainwater collection tanks to supply water for toilets.

The building itself will be a learning tool, as students can monitor the school's levels of energy use at a digital kiosk and study nature in a rooftop science classroom.

Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D), who attended the groundbreaking, said such energy-saving measures can be money-saving ones.

After the groundbreaking, Grasmick joined board members for a bus tour of the area. They passed the newly opened Chesapeake Public Charter School.

The group then stopped at Spring Ridge Middle School to watch sixth-grade students perform science experiments as part of the STEM program, which was developed in response to the country's shortage of professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The last stop of the day was the Patuxent River Naval Air Station to learn about its partnerships with the school system.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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