Havre de Grace Grads: Bring On New School
Havre de Grace High School's outgoing seniors support the notion of a new school.
Elise Starkey has had a year to prepare for Thursday night.
She's just been too busy.
Between student government, drama, music, National Honor Society and French Honor Society, where would she get the time to even ready herself emotionally for graduation?
"I think I won’t really feel it until I’m sitting on the stage with everybody," she said in an interview with Patch last month.
Havre de Grace High School classmate Brandis Bellamy is in the same boat.
"A little excited. I gotta admit, a little scared," he said of his emotions about two weeks prior to graduation. "I still remember my fifth grade graduation. It’s like 'Wow.' It’s a leap of faith, you don’t know what you’re going to get into."
Bellamy returned to Havre de Grace in 10th grade after departing in eighth grade. He was student council treasurer, and was involved in student government, drama and music, as well a serving as one of the MCs at the homecoming pep rally.
He is off to Kean College in Union, N.J. to study economics. Starkey will attend Elizabethtown University in Pennsylvania, utilizing a five-year program to get her undergraduate and masters degrees in occupational therapy.
They are but two of the dozens of students who earned awards and scholarships totaling approximately $2.7 million leading up to Thursday's graduation.
Before they left, though, Patch wanted to get their take on a hot topic in the community—a new Havre de Grace High School.
After all, the graduates wouldn't directly benefit from the school, and they—more than most—understand the shortfalls of the current structure.
"I think it would be good for the community. I think we deserve it. The tradition that’s here—I think we’re the oldest school in the county. We deserve it," Bellamy said. "We’re a small school, I understand where they’re coming from. But, as far as being a traditional school, the awards we’ve won. We deserve it."
Equality was on Starkey's mind, too.
"I think it would be fantastic," she said. "I don’t think its necessary right away. I know they’ve talked about it down the road. We get along fine here. We are very small, but we deserve just as much."
Both pointed to the music and drama departments as keys to their development in high school—and with that in mind, both saw fit for a magnet school in the music building on the school's two-building campus.
"That whole building by itself should be a school. We’ve got some good band and music teachers," Bellamy said.
While many push for a science or engineering program at Havre de Grace, the students at the school see music as one of the common traits among the population already in the building.
"That’s the biggest thing here. One third of the school here is involved in music," Starkey said. "A new space for that would be great."
The seniors aren't alone.
She said, in part: "the design of [the academic building] and [the gym and music] building—neither lend themselves to my feeling comfortable that we have the optimal, safety and security. This office and the front office are so sheltered from the front door, so we have no idea who comes and goes. That’s the biggest piece."
Walling took no issue with the two-building set-up, but noted the students had to learn to manage narrow hallways and teachers had to spend class change on crowd control.
Harford County Council pulled funding for a feasibility study from the budget, meaning a new school isn't likely by the time those students graduating from elementary school this week are walking across the stage to get their diplomas in 2019.
But, someday, Starkey said, a new school would go a long way toward continuing Warrior Pride at Havre de Grace High School.
"It increases pride a lot," she said. "A new building would boost so much pride."