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Principal named for Barbara Ingram School for the Arts

August 20, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- A principal for the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts has been hired.

The Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday approved Michael T. Thorsen as principal of the performing arts high school being built in downtown Hagerstown. Thorsen will be paid an annual salary of $111,462, and begins today.

The school is expected to open in August 2009.

His appointment was approved along with other personnel changes in a 7-0 vote. There are at least two other Washington County Public Schools principals who receive a higher annual salary, according to documents.

Thorsen has spent 35 years teaching, supervising and administrating arts-education programs in Pennsylvania, most recently at Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he served as principal for seven years. He retired from that position in 2006, according to his résumé.

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The Barbara Ingram School for the Arts is housed in the former Henry's Theater and the Elks Lodge on South Potomac Street. It will be a regular high school for 300 students, with specialized programs in music, art and dance for students with interest and talent in the arts, The Herald-Mail has reported.

Thorsen has experience in community interaction activities, developing and implementing arts curriculum, fundraising and supervising high school personnel and education programs, according to a Washington County Public Schools press release.

During his time as principal of Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Thorsen established partnerships with several organizations, including the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the Pittsburgh Opera, Carnegie-Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

"We feel lucky that he applied and that he has accepted the position," Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said of Thorsen during a public business meeting Tuesday.

Renovations to the downtown building that will house the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts began late last year, and construction is expected to be completed by December, school officials have said. The project is expected to cost about $10 million.

"Thorsen not only has the experience needed to lead the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, but he also has a passion for education," said Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Donna Hanlin. "He knows firsthand how an education centered in the arts can inspire students to evolve both academically and artistically. We are very happy to have him on board."

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