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Hancock school details many needs

April 22, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Jennifer Ruppenthal spoke rather quickly as the key points flashed on the large screen to her left.

But the Hancock Middle Senior High School teacher had a lot of ground to cover with the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday night.

Screen after screen listed the school's many needs, ranging from more books and space in the library media center to a new activities gymnasium.

The school - of the same vintage as South Hagerstown High School - needs a lot of things, including some new construction and major renovation work, said CAC chairman/parent Daniel Murphy, who made the presentation with Ruppenthal.

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It's the only combined middle and senior high school in the county, Murphy said.

Students share most of the facilities, including the library, cafeteria, gymnasium and athletic fields, all inadequate for the students' needs, he said.

Ruppenthal went into great detail, talking about how music students are forced to sit on the floor and use their chairs to write on because the "music room" moves on and off the stage and they can't have desks.

Because the school's allotment of books is based on enrollment - there are only a little over 300 students - the library media center doesn't have enough books to meet students' instructional needs, she said.

It also lacks the space to accommodate the new technology, Ruppenthal said.

The home economics area is much too small, without nearly enough kitchen area or sewing machines for students to use, she said.

The athletic department has gaping needs, she said, including a gymnasium floor and fixtures dating to 1957-58, insufficient gym space for students, a deteriorated track and no practice fields.

The presentation was intended to make the school board aware of those and other needs in the hopes of getting on its "list" for the major work and in line for some "quick fixes," Murphy said.

It wasn't meant as a complaint session or sour grapes for the good news South Hagerstown High School received about its major renovation plan last week, he said.

"We're happy for what South got, and we're happy for what North got a few year's back, but it's time for them to be thinking about us," he said. "We have some serious needs up here and we want to be on a list."

School board members were sympathetic, promising to keep the school's needs in mind and do what they could do.

The school's needs are reflected on the school system's long-range capital improvement plan, said Dennis McGee, director of facilities management.

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