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TELL US: Why Is A New High School Needed?

Tell Patch why you feel Havre de Grace High School is due for a new edition.

I've heard from many of you in the past week in regards to the new high school proposition.

Security. Health and safety. Aging infrastructure.  Simple equality within the county.

They're all worthy reasons.

Because not everyone will get a chance to tell their personal story at , I wanted to extend an unlimited forum here.

I want to hear your story.

Why do you feel is in need of a replacement?

TELL US: Why would you like to see a new high school in Havre de Grace? Leave a comment.

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Sean Welsh August 19, 2012 at 02:19 PM
@remerson — I'd agree the city is probably due for a newer, larger library, too. I'm hoping we can keep the dialogue on this article, though, to comments regarding the new high school. I'm happy to start a conversation on a new library, too. Thanks for reading. -Sean
cremerson35 August 19, 2012 at 02:31 PM
a new library would make more cense i beleave right now then a new high school... tha you commenting...
Curtis Cohen August 19, 2012 at 02:43 PM
We all pay pretty high state and local taxes. So we should ensure that we have good requirements to build a new school. The reasoning "because other towns and cities got one" isn't a reason to build a new school. Maybe renovating the school would suffice. I don't know. Haven't been there since I graduated 23 yrs ago. We need someone to tell us specifically the problems with the school so we can make a good decision on spending tax dollars.
Fred Cullum August 19, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The county does have plans to make the library a bigger two story building. Not sure when the funding will be in place to do it though.
HavredeGraceMom August 19, 2012 at 03:33 PM
There are so many reasons that we need a new high school. Have you been in there lately? The bathrooms need to be completely gutted, the plumbing is a joke, the electrical system was meant to support 1950's era classrooms, not 21st century classrooms with computers, smartboards, overheads, etc. But the most important reason is because our kids deserve to have the same opportunities as other kids in the HCPS system. The other high schools have television studios, where kids can get hands-on experience. They have state-of-the-art computer labs, where they can be taught computer science. HdG HS doesn't even have a teacher qualified to teach a CS course, let alone modern computers and a network to support it. The science rooms are old and the kids do drafting by hand in Foundations of Technology (other schools use computer programs called CADD). Our kids are falling behind in science because the school doesn't have the same equipment as the other schools.
HavredeGraceMom August 19, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Look, we all pay the same county taxes, so we should all benefit equally. The majority of our taxes go to support the school district, so that money should be equally distributed. That means that it is time that Havre de Grace gets a new school or at least get a major overhaul and addition. It has happened in Bel Air (2 times, Patterson Mill and Bel Air HS), Edgewood (2010), Aberdeen(2004 & 2008), North Harford (2007), C. M. Wright (2003), Harford Tech (2008), Joppatowne (2008). Fallston was built in 1977, and Havre de Grace in 1955 (the main classroom building), neither have had any major renovations or additions since. Plain and simple, politics aside, it is our turn!
HavredeGraceMom August 19, 2012 at 03:41 PM
In case you're wondering, none of my kids will benefit from a new school. I'm graduating my last one this year. But as a taxpayer, and a homeowner, I do feel that investing in the schools in Havre de Grace will only improve the quality of life here and will make Havre de Grace a more attractive community to families with children. This means an increase in property values, resulting in an increase in the tax revenues. A win-win situation for everyone.
SHAWN HURST August 19, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I think you have some information wrong. The main classroom building at Havre de Grace was renovated back in 1982-1983. The 1955 main building was gone at that time...
HavredeGraceMom August 19, 2012 at 08:10 PM
It is my understanding that the current building is the 1955 structure and the 1982-83 renovation was the gymnasium/auditorium construction.
SHAWN HURST August 19, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Sorry, your information is incorrect. The Gym/auditorium is from 1955 construction. I graduated in 1982 and I remember watching the wrecking ball take down the classroom side, from the gym.
ams August 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I also graduated 23 years ago and i have been in the building recently. The building is the same, no changes. The plumbing is old, the air and heat are not evenly distributed. During a heavy rain, the art/shop wing gets flooded. The weight room is really small, and the kids got Edgewood's old stuff when Edgewood got new equipment. The auditorium is dated as well as everything else. i also don't recall a computer lab, they have old laptops that get carted in the room. we also pay high taxes and there is enough money in this town that our kids deserve better. Support for our kids has become lax, people need to start supporting athletic games, plays, and scholastic events. We are all guilty. i agree with Havre de Grace Mom-if we have a good school in place, it will make for a better community. And potato-pot-ah-to on when it was renovated-it has been a long time.
Curtis Cohen August 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Plumbing, electrical, computer labs, etc. As I stated, I haven't been there since I graduated - other than the auditorium. Could these improvements be accomplished via renovation? In other words, is the school currently over crowded or projected to be over crowded? Seems like it is very outdated/neglected. But from a facility space/size if it meets the requirement, why don't we ask for a renovation with all new equipment and then ask for more programs and teachers?
Frank Hawley August 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM
The auditorium that is attached to the gym, was built in 1974-75. The Class of 1976 was the first to graduate in it. The main school buildings had renovations to them, but the part of the building that the cafeteria was, or may still be in, is the oldest part of the school. They did renovate what was the front of the school from when I attended there. I haven't been in the high school in years, but where the main office was located, was classrooms and the old auditorium was part of that building. The shops and arts wing was the smaller buildings closest to Juniata Street. That building had an open breeze way between it and the main school. It housed the auto shop, metal shop, wood shop, drafting classroom, band room, art classroom and a couple small classrooms.
Brent August 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM
The costs of a major renovation is presumably on par with just building a new school from the ground up. There is also the issue of what to do with students in the meantime- a serious renovation would mean a serious portion of the school at any given time couldn't be used by the school for a number of reasons too, so students and teachers would be displaced during the construction. Building a new facility on a new site (which is implied is part of the plan) would allow use of the old facility while the new school is being constructed with minimal disruption. Also, renovation doesn't solve the biggest issue: Havre de Grace High is a multiple building school with a campus that spans two city streets, one a major thoroughfare through the city. If you want precedent of what the county things of two-building schools, remember that Aberdeen was one as well before the new building was constructed, and the idea of keeping it as one was thrown out early in the planning process. And yet those students didn't even have to cross a city street to get to part of the campus. Who doesn't agree that it's an inconvenience to motorists for them to close off part of Congress Ave every school day? And it's a hazard for students to have to (relatively) busy cross Juniata street to utilize the athletic fields, right?
Phil Powell August 20, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Great dialog here...!!! For those of you who have not been back to the school since you graduated, there have been some changes, renovations have taken place. But, as in the case with any renovation, there is only so much you may accomplish given the constraints with the existing structure. I would encourage everyone to attend the meeting tonight as well as the subsequent meetings. There will be speakers who will address the issues that range from health and safety to, as noted in a previous post here, the inequality the students of HHS have with the rest of the County. Try "googling" Havre de Grace High school and see what comes up......here's a link to one of them, Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havre_De_Grace_High_School ) you will see the student population has been increasing. Now, picture yourself and family moving to a new town, what is one of the first things you might do? I think a "Google" search might be one....your reach results would show a quaint little town, located at the head of the Chesapeake bay, there are many parks, a beautiful water front boardwalk, a town with an "Old World" feeling, looks like a great place to live. Another question high on the list ( if you have children) would be what are the schools like? Without experiencing our local schools you are faced to ride by and see.... What would you think? .....more to follow...ran out of characters......
Phil Powell August 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM
 The Havre de Grace community has a secret that, in order for us to move forward with this push for a new high school we must finally reveal. While our facility may be subpar, our Teachers and staff are the finest around. The educational experience our children receive cannot be matched elsewhere in the County. Our teachers and staff are not just employees of the Board of Education, they are part of the community, they come to Havre de Grace, and stay....Why? If you don't know the answer to this question, I challenge you to find out. Ask some teachers, such as Rich Holly, Don Osman, retired after spending their entire professional career as a teacher in Havre de Grace, or some current teachers, Mr Huff, Mr Traymontanna, Ms. Phillips, Alex Spooner, these are just a few who have moved here, started a family and continue to live and work in our fine community, this list could go on.  I encourage you to please get involved!!! This investment is for our future....... Hope to see you tonight.....
Hollee Sifford August 20, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Well I work at HHS and over the summer there has been ALOT going on as far as upgrades and changes....I personally have met with several new families locating to HDG and have given them a "TOUR" of the school with explanation of th on going consruction.I encourage anyone that has not been in there this summer to come to the school and see for yourself ..just stop in the office they r open from 8-4.....I am also on board for a new school 100% I just want to put it out there that there IS progress in some areas being made.Sure it is not perfect and yes other areas have new schools but HI-TECH sometimes is not ALWAYS the best way to go as i have heard that as nice as some of the other schools are and their up graded equipt...the cost for things is much higher and guess what....THE KIDS destroy it..and we cannot renovate the kids...they to need to RESPECT the new school so how do you make that happen?I am however very excited about the new field house!!!!Now as far as safety goes well I believe there needs to be stronger enforcement at the DESIGNATED cross walks......I myself have had several encounters where motorists completely IGNORE the sign that reads......STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS IN CROSSWALKS....STRONGER ENFORCEMENT NEEDED....Wish i could be there this eve.......BUT....I will be working at HHS..I love my job:)....Welcome Mr. Reynolds
ams August 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Curtis, i don't think that there is enough space, but also, it needs so much renovating-so realistically which would be cheaper and better for the kids? To completely gut out what needs to be done along with electrical work and plumbing, or just tear it down and do it new? Also, the kind of renovating that would be needed, would there be enough room for it? For example, the weight room is so small i don't know how they would expand it. In addition, I do not know where they would put a computer room, there doesn't seem to be any room-they would have to makeover a needed classroom. From what i can recall about the school library (i was only in there for a very brief time) everything was dated there as well, still the same. You bring up some good points though that warrant further thought.
Monique Watson August 20, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Since no CURRENT students have commented, I will. My name is Monique Watson and i'm the senior class president and will be speaking at the meeting tonight. For those that are worried about how "cramped" the school may be the answer to your question is : our school is inefficient to that of normal schools. The architecture of the main building has TERRIBLE circulation for heating and air. Thermostats on the third floor may read 80 to 90 degrees while thermostats on the first floor read 60 to 70. It is not healthy for students to transfer from weather extremes via classrooms and its distracting for even teachers to wear winter coats during class!!! English classrooms are fairly small
Phil Powell August 20, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Pam, The progression of development in Harford County includes Havre de Grace and the " Rt 40 corridor". With the hospital expansion and developments already approved our student base will be growing...(as the statistics already show) As will be pointed out this evening we regularly loose 15-20 students each year to other schools for various reasons ( magnet schools, tech programs etc. ) one also has to wonder if that is the only reason.....so, to conclude, yes we should be thinking about what the future has in store for the area.. See you tonight!!!
Monique Watson August 20, 2012 at 03:38 PM
and so are history classrooms when you try to cram 32 honors or AP students in one room! our music program is extremely strong yet unrecognized and often underestimated throughout the county. With that I would like to also add how devastated we would be if our auditorium which is THE BEST in acoustics would to ever be torn down. Long story short our main building is inadequate and we need a one. Its a pretty simple concept. Gym renovations are reasonable and our music wing definitely should be expanded to fill with more talented kids.
Biller's Bikes August 20, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Harford County will build a state-of-the-art high school atop the Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, MD, a flagship public school serving all county citizens. Its state-of-the-art academic, community and recreational facilities will prove a gateway for new generations and old to tomorrow's careers, technologies and life opportunities.
Monique Watson August 20, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I won't be anywhere near Havre de Grace within the next 5 to 10 years but I appreciate the history it conserves and its growing as a town. Bulle Rocke alone has brought in so many new students and Brac is not only affecting Aberdeen but Havre de Grace too. A new school will better prepare the town for the expansion that's coming
Pam Newhart August 20, 2012 at 03:44 PM
After reading through all the comments, I think I understand what Curtis is saying- we need to have a rock solid, factual argument to present before the board for why we need a new school- not just foot stamping and whining about how other communities got it. We all know we need a new school- lets express ourselves intelligently and maturely so we have the best chance of getting one. I also agree with havre de grace mom about a new school raising the self esteem of the community as a whole- and everyone benefitting with or without children in that school. The added tax benefit of new families coming here could very well pay for that new library!
Jennifer August 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM
As a current student of Havre de Grace, my experience in the school is better (I believe) than any other student at another school. The teachers know you by name and always give you a smile. If you need help they give it. The faculty here is AMAZING and I don't think you could find that anywhere else. Yet as for the building itself. It definitely needs work. The water from the water fountains is disgusting. The foods room is even worse!! There are so many bugs in that room, and our equipment is in lax. As well as never having enough space in a tiny class room. Many of our teachers don't even have a room! They just "float" from room to room because there isn't enough SPACE for them! All in all. HdG is a great school but it's time to be bigger. We may be small... But we WILL fight!!!
Pam Newhart August 20, 2012 at 04:12 PM
In addition, the Board needs to look ahead and plan for future enrollment- just because we are not bursting at the seams now, does not mean we won't be in the near future! All too often they get caught reacting instead of proacting, and we end up with students and staff in portables. Bad learning situation all the way around, and so easily avoided.
Pam Newhart August 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Ok, last comment for me, I promise! Is there a way we could piggy back the library project with the school project? It seams a waste to have two separate buildings with much the same purpose. Could the public library function as the school library? The buildings would need to be attached in some way for student safety. That way we could have a truly knock out facility! Obviously some logistics would need to be addressed, but it's a starting point...
Curtis Cohen August 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
One of my duties with the federal gov is to justify new facilities at apg. Pam got it right. We need rock solid reasoning with analysis why we need a facility. The county is looking at hdg as a facility built in 1983 - younger than most houses in hdg. So why replace it? Student population (expanding), cost of renovation vs new, technology changes in the past 30 yrs, safety, etc all need to be clearly considered. This is what the council will look at when deciding. We need a great school. No doubt. But we need to present it so as to leave no doubt. I really believe that we need to embrace the performing arts and devote a complex for that including several stages and practice areas. Leave the current facility in place and use it as the performing arts center.
Sean Welsh August 20, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Thanks for the comments, all. Check out some more takes on the issue from myself and other readers here: http://havredegrace.patch.com/articles/5-things-where-hhs-comes-up-short#comments_list -Sean
Kathy Keen August 24, 2012 at 01:41 AM
OK, this may not be a good reason for a new school, but it has always bothered me that our school is such an ugly building. It's basically a big brown blob. It looks foreboding, has no design, and no obvious front door. A school should be a beautiful building with an auspicious entrance standing proudly in the community.

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