Spotlights
A sneak peek inside the new Dundalk and Sollers Point Technical high schools
08/16/2013

Spotlight

By any measure, the new building for Dundalk and Sollers Point Technical high schools is imposing.

Rising from a bluff overlooking the campus of the Community College of Baltimore County – Dundalk, the new school stretches 865 feet from end to end along Delvale Road – about 30 feet less than the length of an aircraft carrier flight deck and just 151 feet less than the length of the warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the longest building on the east coast.

With commanding views of the Key Bridge and a straight sightline to the heart of CCBC-Dundalk, the building is an instant landmark in southeastern Baltimore County. As a unique building, the only one that houses two high schools under one roof in Baltimore County, the Dundalk portion of the school is sheathed in red brick as an homage to the former school building, while the Sollers Point side is clad in a light fiberglass sandwich panel.

Spotlight

But it’s what’s inside, says Dundalk Principal Tom Shouldice, that truly impresses. “This is a very unusual setting for our school, to have the community schools close by, the high school and technical high school together like this, and then the community college almost on our campus,” Shouldice says.

“(The school) has an outstanding design, it has almost everything the teachers wanted and it has air-conditioning,” he adds. “I think our community is going to come into this building and just be wowed.”

His colleague and counterpart in the new building, Sollers Point Principal Mike Weglein, is similarly enthused. “Coming from a school that’s 65 years old, this is the dream of a lifetime for me,” he says. “This space is so gorgeous.”

When the 1,857 students of both schools enter their new building for the first time on August 26, they will be immersed not only in the latest state-of-the-art educational tools and learning spaces. They will also enter a building dedicated to the history, culture, spirit and pride of their community, a school whose expansive central atrium doubles as a community museum, where community leaders from Dundalk and Turners Station are immortalized on panels throughout the hallways and where sports heroes and notable alumni peer down from oversized banners into the sunlit cafeteria.

A tour of the new building reveals the substantial thought and planning that went into making the new Dundalk-Sollers Point a community hub. Throughout the 349,365-square-foot building, there are nods to the region’s industrial heritage as well as innovative ways to use the open, airy spaces to maximize environmental efficiency – so much so that the building is anticipated to receive a LEED schools certification of silver or higher.

Start with the school’s main lobby. A soaring, open atrium, it boasts 11 freestanding exhibit cases that tell the stories of Dundalk and Turners Station as well as the accomplishments of individuals that provide a historical context for students. Amid the exhibits are a Class of 1954 wooden bell, a 1947 water fountain, the 1950 Penn Relay Mile Trophy, lettermen jackets, a bell cast from the McShane foundry in the 19th century and Coach J. Bruce Tuner’s binoculars.

The central cathedral-like “spine” of the building contains areas to be used by both Dundalk and Sollers Point students, including the library and media center, cafeteria, lounges, gymnasium and 500-seat auditorium areas. Each area is sleek, modern and spacious.

To the north of the lobby and separated by a massive glass wall, the cafeteria sports flat-screen video monitors and inspirational sports figures and alumni in photographic panels. Down hallways from the cafeteria are the school’s new gymnasium, weight rooms and athletic facilities, auditorium, culinary kitchens – the largest in Maryland – and other amenities.

To the south of the lobby, a soaring central atrium vaults three stories to skylights and sweeping views of the area, including the Key Bridge to the south. Administrative offices for each school face one another across the atrium area, while windowed classrooms accommodate the schools’ programs. Along the walls and from banners hung in the central atrium, students and visitors can see and learn about influential community leaders such as Henrietta Lacks, Robert Abbott and Dunbar Brooks from Turners Station and Jean Kettel, Dr. Adam Reier and Vera Green from Dundalk.

“We’re excited that the school reflects this community, the industrial nature of the community,” Shouldice says. “We’re really excited that the school will bring the community back into the school house. This will be a centerpiece for the community. This will help revitalize Dundalk and make people want to come and live here.”

 

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, Communications Specialist, Department of Communications and Community Outreach
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