SHILOH — Local and state educators and dignitaries held North Dorchester High School’s Dedication Ceremony on June 3, marking the official opening of the new school. Though the modern complex was ready for occupancy in the fall of 2019, the pandemic delayed a formal observance.
The 116,720 square foot building replaced the original structure, which had been in use since 1954, and had long been out of date.
“The time had come for a change,” Superintendent W. David Bromwell said. “This facility is state of the art.”
In her last speaking engagement on the Eastern Shore before her impending retirement, State Superintendent Dr. Karen B. Salmon said, “In my opinion, DCPS and the Dorchester County government built a cathedral” of education.
The facility occupies a 40-acre site, and was built at a cost of $43.1 million, coming in on time and under budget. Among its features are 18 flexible, technology-rich core instructional classrooms; five science labs; two technology/engineering labs; an art studio; two special needs studios; gym bleacher seating for 650; and theater seating for 698.
It adds up to a school equipped for the needs of students now and in the future. “Having adequate facilities does improve student achievement,” Dr. Salmon said.
The project began in 2014 with a feasibility study, following by extensive discussions with the local community, architects and builders.
“There were so many daunting challenges,” former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry V. Wagner Jr. said. “Today belongs to those who believed.”
He also mentioned the cooperation among Dorchester County Public Schools, Dorchester County and State government in helping to guide the complex project. “Truly a remarkable synergy in this day and age,” Dr. Wagner said.
Mr. Hauge said, “The success of this project was built on this best practice of a structured, transparent, collaborative process engaging all stakeholders over many months where nothing was off the table.”
Critical aspects of that process, before the first shovel of earth was turned over, were a “Greatest Hopes” exercise during which members of the public shared their dreams for the school; “Guiding Principles” refined from the public’s suggestions for the function of the new school; and a “Headline” exercise in which participants imagined successful newspaper headlines upon completion of the project, one of which was, “School of the Future.”
Mr. Hauge had high praise for the many well trained and educated professionals who labored on plans and construction for the several years it took to complete the new building and its associated sports, geothermal energy and parking facilities.
The success garnered commendations for the local team from Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, presented by his representative Dave J. Wooten; and from Governor Larry Hogan, and the State Legislature, presented by Senator Addie Eckardt and Delegates Sheri Sample-Hughes and Johnny Mautz.
The work began under former Principal Lynn Sorrells, who was thanked for her assistance. Current NDHS Principal David P. Stofa gave closing remarks, thanking all those who attended and worked to make the new school a reality.
During the event, student Thomas P. Reincke led the Pledge of Allegiance, and performances were made by NDHS Band led by Bruce Pearson and the NDHS Chorus, led by Sabra Steward.