"It's an affirmation, not only of Hagerstown and Washington County, but the bright future of our students," Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.
Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said that the opening of the performing arts school, which will be in the city's arts and entertainment district, will add to the offerings there.
Several County Commissioners, Board of Education members and the State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick also attended the ceremony.
Grasmick said that often students who are involved in arts programs have higher achievement in their academic studies.
"The arts facilitiate academic performance," she said.
Commissioners President John F. Barr credited the opening of the school with collaboration among local and state officials.
However, the project is a first for this area, and will be the only performing arts high school west of Baltimore. That distinction and the creative financing needed to open the school has caused some controversy, Morgan said.
Former candidate for the Board of Education Tom Janus stood outside during Tuesday's ceremony as a silent protester against the school. He held a sign that read, "Big Note$ Wrong Music."
Morgan thanked the Board of Education for its "bravery" in moving forward with the controversial new project.
Washington County Public Schools will borrow about $8.3 million to renovate the downtown building for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. That is about $3 million less than originally proposed to be spent.
The loan will be paid back over 20 years at an interest rate of 4.5019 percent, Chief Financial Officer Chris South has said. The agreement is with Bank of America Public Capital Corp., which offered the lowest of five bids to finance the school.
The school system will pay about $52,891 each month, or $634,692 each year, officials have said.
The project is the first in Maryland to pursue this type of alternative financing for public school construction, Board of Education President Roxanne R. Ober said.
State grants and bonds have partially funded the initial feasibility study and architectural and construction drawings. The project also is eligible for $1 million in state historic tax credits.
The Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Foundation was established this year and is a nonprofit organization that will help fund the school's capital and operating costs.