St. Charles High School celebrated its successful first year on May 15, formally dedicating the school and pool.
Students and staff promoted the county’s seventh and newest high school during a ceremony that included presentations, project overviews, student performances, a key passing ceremony, a ribbon cutting at the pool and remarks from school and county officials. St. Charles opened in August 2014.
St. Charles Principal Richard Conley welcomed visitors with an overview of the 288,283 square-foot school that stacks four academic houses on four floors and contains 80 teaching stations. Conley noted the environmental features built into the school that make it a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard facility. The building design incorporates energy management features, including natural lighting, water efficient landscaping, and a geothermal heating and cooling system. Conley stressed, however, that it is not the building that makes a school. He talked about how students and staff are creating a school community through instruction, extracurricular activities and programs.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill talked about the process of opening St. Charles. Starting with approval of the building site just north of the baseball stadium on Piney Church Road in 2006, St. Charles faced a number of delays. Before opening its doors in August 2014, the state, county and school system twice delayed the school opening, largely due to the recession and the high cost of building a 1,600-capacity high school.
Hill concluded her remarks with reference to the high tech features in the James E. Richmond Science Center, the environmental qualities and the swimming pool that provide sound instructional opportunities for students. She said, “It’s not the bricks and mortar that make the educational program excellent—it’s the teachers, staff and students. But to quote Senator Barbara Mikulski, ‘But kids cannot compete for 21st century jobs with 20th century equipment. No way. No how,’” Hill said.
Early in the building process, Mikulski secured a half million dollars in the Commerce, Justice and Science Funding Bill for the technology and construction of the digital dome at the Science Center.
Also attending the dedication were friends and family of the late Col. Donald M. Wade. The dedication included a ribbon cutting at the pool named for the former Board member who was instrumental in securing county funds to build the pool. The pool complex contains a competition sized six-lane, 25-yard pool, as well as locker rooms and bleacher seating. The previous Board of Education named the complex the Col. Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center. The school, countywide swim teams and Community Services will use the indoor pool year round.
St. Charles also houses the James E. Richmond Science Center, which is open to the public and used by students systemwide. The state-of-the-art digital classroom and Science on a Sphere are main features of the center.
In addition to the pool, St. Charles athletic features include a football stadium with an eight-lane track; bleacher seating for 1,500 home/500 visitors; 14 fields including football, baseball, softball, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse; and eight tennis courts.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 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 Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, 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.