Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School students, staff and community members celebrated the recent building renovation and expansion of the school in a special ceremony held Oct. 10. Featured in the ceremony was a project overview, student performances, presentations from elected officials and a key passing ceremony.
Dr. Mudd first opened its doors to students in 1967 in a building that was just under 45,000 square feet in size. Following a two-year renovation and expansion, Dr. Mudd now features more than 76,000 square feet in learning space for students. Updated features include new technologies, updated mechanical and engineering systems, a separate gymnasium and cafeteria, and a new school entrance. The renovation project began in 2017 and modernized the building for learning. Cost of the renovation was about $24 million.
To prepare for the renovation, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) built a transition school in Waldorf to accommodate students who attend a school undergoing renovations. In July 2017, Dr. Mudd staff relocated to the transition school. Students and staff attended the transition school for two years and returned to Dr. Mudd this school year. Dr. Mudd Principal Orlena Whatley said while the transition was challenging, the positive attitude displayed by both students and staff made the change easy.
“The transition school became our home for two years and we made the absolute best of it. Our Dr. Mudd Dragons handled the change like champs. Over the past two years, I watched Dr. Mudd evolve from a school with dusty floors and construction traffic, to the house of learning it is today. And we – the Dr. Mudd team – handled this move as a family,” Whatley said during the ceremony.
Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill presented the project overview at the ceremony.
In her comments, Hill shared details about Dr. Mudd design features in place for students. Dr. Mudd windows include stained glass and color-coded floor tiles that correspond with different grade levels. The design included additional areas for window space, allowing for natural light to shine in hallways, and unique furniture for students who may need flexible seating options. Hill said students and staff were excited about the reopening of Dr. Mudd in September.
“When students walked in on the first day of school, they were ecstatic. Not only does the inside of the building look completely different, but the outside of the building is modern, inviting and features lots of windows to let in natural light. The architect team from Smolen, Emr and Ilkovitch had a vision of incorporating a color scheme students could identify by grade level. The general contractor, Scheibel Construction, made that vision a reality. The stripes on the floor and stained glass windows of the same color lead students to classroom areas that feature collaborative spaces for group learning,” Hill said.
David Clements is the supervisor of planning and construction for CCPS. He was the lead staff member on the Dr. Mudd renovation project and said the school is one of the first CCPS buildings to feature furniture included in a design to support teaching and learning. “We partnered with Dupont in how to use furniture as part of teaching and this is one of the first times we used seating and technology together in part of an overall design plan,” Clements said.
During the ceremony, Maryland Senator Arthur Ellis presented a citation to Dr. Mudd fifth grader Kamrin Briscoe. In addressing students at the ceremony, Ellis encouraged them to make reading a priority. “Reading can take you lots of places so remember to keep that focus,” Ellis said.
Thomasina Coates and Amanda Stewart, members of the Board of Charles County Commissioners, presented a citation to Dr. Mudd fourth grader Lila Yake. “This building was part of a vision. A vision I had to help update the educational facilities in Charles County. It is amazing to see it now,” Commissioner Stewart said.
Whatley also presented a citation to Dr. Mudd fifth grader Angelina Carter on behalf of Del. Edith Patterson during the ceremony.
Part of every CCPS school dedication or rededication is a key passing ceremony. Special guests, including elected officials, students, parents, school staff and representatives from groups involved in a school construction or renovation project participate. A ceremonial key is shared from one participant to the other as a visual representation of the process it takes to build or renovate a school.
The ceremony was live streamed on the CCPS website. The meeting is posted on the CCPS TV page for view at https://www.ccboe.com/ccboetv/.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.