Relay Elementary breaks ground on new school


Linda Stevenson couldn’t help but feel a bit wistful as she watched the ceremonial groundbreaking begin for the new Relay Elementary School.  Stevenson observed as Principal Lisa Dingle introduced dignitaries, one by one, and celebrated the construction taking place in the valley behind her, just northwest of the current building.

“It will be a beautiful new building,” Stevenson said of the new $34 million, 700-seat school being built along Selford Road. “But I’ll miss the old one, too.”

Stevenson has the right to feel pensive, not only because she was the school’s librarian for many years, but also because she lives in the Relay community’s original elementary school, a one-room structure built in 1864 and outfitted still with 14-foot ceilings and original wainscoting and windows. The windows still bear the etchings of students long since moved on.

Charles McDaniels, Jr., chair of the Board of Education of Baltimore County, told guests at the groundbreaking that the Relay community has a proud academic history, and a unique one. Including Stevenson’s home, the community has preserved all of its former schools – the only community in Baltimore County to do so. But, he added, students today need schools that support their increased academic needs, including technology and an environment conducive to learning. And that is the kind of new school building, with construction now underway, that will open its doors to students in 2017.

The groundbreaking on March 17 emphasized both the community’s rich educational heritage as well as its exciting potential. Behind each speaker at the ceremony, a panoramic view of construction workers, machinery, and earth gave guests an idea of how expansive the new school and surrounding grounds will be. Students sang musical selections that conveyed their excitement, and speakers, including Superintendent Dallas Dance, and Dr. David Lever, executive director of the Maryland Public School Construction Program, sang their praises of the improvements taking place.

As students counted down under a cloudless blue sky, the dignitaries and student helpers used gold-painted shovels to ceremoniously turn a mound of dirt, marking the official start to construction of the new building.  One more example, Principal Dingle said, of Relay Elementary School being on “the right P.A.T.H.,” quoting the school’s motto that refers to Pride, Achievement, Teamwork, and Heart.      

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