Spotlights
Making the old new again
“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” - Author Stephen King
12/02/2015

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Spotlight

You won’t find it on any blueprint or site plan for the new Catonsville Elementary School. It isn’t marked on any invoice or building specification related to the renovation of the former Bloomsbury Community Center.

But at Monday’s groundbreaking for the $28 million project – set to open in August 2016 with enough room for up to 700 students – there was no denying its presence in the architecture, in the acreage along busy Bloomsbury Avenue, in the words of the dignitaries, and in the meaning of the morning.

History is coming home.       

And where else but Catonsville, a community that reveres its past as much as it celebrates its hope for the future. “As principal of Catonsville Elementary, I can proudly say that our staff, students, and families are thrilled to play a role in the history of Baltimore County and Catonsville schools,” said Principal Linda Miller. “Looking forward, not only are we happy to preserve the history of these schools, but we are excited to welcome the blending and creation of a new school community.”

The groundbreaking event featured remarks from Miller, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Board of Education Chair David Uhlfelder, and Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance. In the chill air and under overcast skies, a delegation of current Catonsville Elementary students assisted the adults in turning shovel-fulls of dirt to mark the moment.

While this week’s groundbreaking was ceremonial in nature -- work has been underway at the site for a while – it marks the latest academic iteration for the old building. Constructed in 1924-1925, the Bloomsbury edifice first opened its doors to the community’s high school students. The building’s first graduate – Charlotte Armstrong – remembers making her white graduation dress in home economics class in 1925, according to “Building the Future,” a new coffee-table history of Baltimore County’s public schools published by (and available from) the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools.

Following nearly 30 years as Catonsville’s high school, and another 33 years as the community’s junior high/middle school, the Bloomsbury site narrowly escaped the wrecking ball and served until this year as a community center. Now its history has come full circle – once a high school, then a middle school, it will now become Catonsville Elementary.

The new school will be fully air conditioned and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, a new media center, gymnasium, and auditorium in the adjacent field house, which will be connected to the main building by a newly-constructed, 36,000-square-foot addition.

Of course, plans also call for a historic display to be created in the new school’s front entrance.

For photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/.

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