Official opening of Antietam Academy celebrated

New building will also be used for Evening High School and summer school programs

January 18, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Bob Wantz, left, the principal for Clear Spring Middle School from 1974 to 1990, stood and photographed a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Antietam Academy.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Public officials gathered Tuesday afternoon at the new Antietam Academy to celebrate the official opening of a school that Washington County Public Schools superintendent Elizabeth Morgan called "another option" for the county's students.

"We need to leave no child behind, and I believe that a student who is very challenged for various reasons, who has difficulty being in a regular classroom in a large number of students, a student who needs personalized education, deserves to have it," Morgan said. "We can't believe that we have a world class public school education in Washington County unless we're educating all students at the highest levels."

Antietam Academy is Washington County's alternative school for students in grades 6 to 11 who have issues such as disruptive behavior, pronounced academic deficits, or a high level of Attention Deficit Disorder or distractibility, according to school system officials.

The program has existed since 1977, but in recent years had been squeezed into temporary and borrowed space in portable classrooms and a middle school basement.

The new, 45,000-square-foot building off West Oak Ridge Drive also will be used for Evening High School and summer school programs.

"This was a tough sell to a lot of people," Washington County Board of Education President Wayne Ridenour said at Tuesday's ceremony.

"You know, you always hear, 'Well, they're the bad kids. Why do we care?'" Ridenour said. "We care because they're kids."

Ridenour and Morgan thanked the current and past Washington County Commissioners and school board members for recognizing the importance of the new facility.

Commissioners President Terry Baker said the commissioners were "privileged to be a part of this project in some way" and said that his first teaching assignment in 1979 was at what was then called the Alternative School.

"I know the compassion and the concern you bring here to all the youth who are going to be attending this school, and I'd like to wish you all the success that I had in working with those types of kids over the years," Baker said to the Antietam Academy faculty.

The ceremony also included a presentation of a governor's citation expressing congratulations and best wishes, and a ribbon cutting in the school's gymnasium.

Tuesday was a professional day for Washington County Public Schools faculty, with no school for students.

The new Antietam Academy opens for students today.

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