Saturday, June 2, 2012

Elkridge High: Returning After Seven Decades?

Lately I have been researching the history of Howard County's School Buildings and blogging has gone on the back burner. It never occurred to me until last night that my research findings could in fact translate into some interesting blog posts. So this and future posts will have a lot to do with School Buildings in Howard County and how things used to be and what I predict will happen in the future. As the title suggests this post will focus on Elkridge High School, what became of it, and how High Schools have evolved since its closure.
 The year was 1950 and Howard County was very rural consisting of a few small towns with some stand alone Elementary Schools a few with Junior High Schools and an even smaller number with Senior Highs. Schools were segregated at the time and the only High School that Blacks could go to was Harriet Tubman High. White High Schools were Lisbon High, Ellicott City High, Savage High, Clarksville High, and Elkridge High. A lot of these Schools had different course offerings. With population growth on the horizon the School Board realized the need for a large centralized High School with a streamlined course offering. The site used for the land was and is on Old Annapolis Road just west of Waterloo Road.The School named "Howard County High School" (eventually shortened to Howard High) and still exists today.
Site of the Old Clarksville High
 Howard wasn't meant to be an additional High School quite the contrary it involved closing almost all of the existing High Schools except for Lisbon due to its western location and Harriett Tubman because Howard High would be Whites Only. So that means Elkridge, Savage, Clarksville, and Ellicott City High Schools had closed in 1952 upon the opening of Howard. The only known building survivor of the these 1952 shutdowns was Elkridge High. The Elkridge High Building then became home to Elkridge Elementary for 40 years after the High School shut down until 1992 when Elkridge Elementary was replaced by a new Building at a larger site. 
Perhaps discontinuing these old High Schools could have been seen as short sighted because almost immediately after the opening of Howard High, the need for new High Schools grew. I would assume that the closed Schools were dated and that modernizing them to be adequate would have cost more than building new Schools. Lisbon High, one of two surviving "Pre Howard High Schools" was slated to be replaced by a Junior Senior High. Glenelg Junior Senior High opened in 1957. During its first ten years Glenelg operated as Junior High and High School until 1967 when Glenwood Middle opened and Glenelg became solely a High School. 
Mount Hebron had a similar history when it opened in 1965 as a Junior Senior High until 1969 when Patapsco opened thus allowing Mount Hebron to become solely a High School.
Remember Harriett Tubman High? In 1964 Howard County was to become integrated and all Schools were to accept both blacks and whites. Needless to say the "separate but equal" mentality was flawed because all of the blacks only Schools closed the same year integration took place. On the High School level Harriett Tubman couldn't close yet because it had to be replaced.
The new School was located on land next to the original Harriett Tubman High and is today's Atholton High. It opened in 1966. 
The rapid pace at which Columbia was built called for unprecedented amounts of School Construction. In 1971 Columbia's first High School Wilde Lake (which I'm a 2002 graduate of) opened.

Two years later in 1973 Oakland Mills High opened. Some of Columbia's Villages were mean to have High Schools that never came to be. Haprers Choice is one of those Neighborhoods. When Centennial High opened in 1977 most of its population originally came from Harpers Choice. Centennial has since had mad massive growth in its District so much so that all of Harpers Choice has returned to Wilde Lake High. Owen Brown was also slated to have a High School of its own.
In 1976 Hammond High opened in what is now the Village of Kings Contrivance and Owen Brown occupied Hammond until more development took place around the School. Eventually all of Owen Brown was redistricted back to Oakland Mills which is a better fit considering some homes off of Cradlerock Way are within walking distance of Oakland Mills High. Some Columbia Neighborhoods were never meant to have a High School such as Hickory Ridge because Atholton is right there (though most of the Village historically has attended Wilde Lake though Hawthorn now attends Atholton and only Clarys Forest now attends now Wilde Lake) Long Reach was never meant to have a High School either because Howard is just across the street from the northern border of Long Reach's Phelps Luck Neighborhood. Dorseys Serach was also not supposed to have a High School because it's so close to Centennial High although the entire Village attends Wilde Lake.
The 1980s saw massive growth in North Laurel located in the southeast of Howard County. At one point there was supposed to be a High School located in North Laurel proper to provide relief for Hammond which was adapting to the growth from Columbia's King Contrivance Neighborhood. The County opted not to build a High School in this densely populated area instead they built one in Clarksville and was to be Columbia's Final Village; River Hill. The School was built before a single house in River Hill was completed. The school opened in 1994 as a holding School to Wilde Lake High whose school was to be rebuilt over the next two years and then in 1996 to its own population River Hill swallowed what was then most of the entire District. Atholton, in need of regaining its population became the High School for North Laurel though students would have to travel in between the River Hill and Hammond High Districts each day to get to Atholton.
In 1996 in addition to River Hill opening to its own district and Wilde Lake opening to its new building Long Reach High (pictured above) opened. Wait a minute! Didn't I just say that Long Reach was one of the Villages on Columbia that did NOT have a High School site? I did and I stand by that claim. It seems that our School System was being cheap. The preferred location for this School was to be in Elkridge where Howard High feeling its recent population boom. The School System owned land in Long Reach just past the Village Center that the Rouse Company gave to them for a Middle School. Long Reach Middle was never built as the County preferred to build Mayfield Woods and Bonnie Branch both of which serve parts of Long Reach. So the vacant site reserved for a Middle School wasn't needed at that time (it is now that's my preferred area for Middle School #20) so it became a High School. Seeing how close it is to Howard there are parts of Long Reach that are very close to both Schools and parts of Elkridge that aren't close to either and it's a shot in the dark whether or not their districted School be it Long Reach or Howard is the one their home is closer to.
Back in the southern portion of the County it's time that another High School be built for a 2002 opening. Yet again the County opted not to build a School in North Laurel and used a sparsely populated site that nobody could walk to. This time it was in Fulton which would relieve crowding at River Hill, Atholton, and Hammond High. There was redistricting in many other High Schools as well but this new High School named Reservoir took its district from these three Schools mainly Atholton. Atholton then took from Hammond, Wilde Lake, and River Hill to yet again refill its district. It seems that North Laurel will never get a High School of its own which will reduce transportation costs. In 2005 Marriotts Ridge High (pictured below) opened in the Marriottsville/Woodstock/West Friendship area drawing its district from Mount Hebron, Glenelg, River Hill, and Centennial.
 Now here we are in 2012 on the eve of Howard High's 60th Anniversary, 60 years since all those old High Schools including Elkridge were closed. I felt that I had to provide a history of the High Schools that opened in between now and then to show everything comes full circle. Although those old High Schools closed in favor of one large centralized High School it seems that within 45 years all of those High Schools were replaced, that is except Elkridge High. Lets go over the list, Glenelg High replaced Lisbon High, River Hill High replaced Clarksville High, Centennial and Mount Hebron replaced Ellicott City High, and Hammond more or less replaced Savage High. The argument could be made that Long Reach replaced Elkridge High but projections indicate that both Howard and Long Reach will be very crowded by the year 2020. Long Reach in past years has been open to accept students from Howard when it became too crowded but in a few short years Long Reach itself will be too crowded. Now should the County build another High School near Howard and Long Reach  like they did with Reservoir being so close to River Hill and Atholton? NO! Those same projections show River Hill to be UNDER crowded and it appears that redistricting will have to take place to balance the numbers out but that will mean moving students who live much loser to other High Schools.
This means that this new High School will have to be further away from Howard and Long Reach yet still in an area that is growing rapidly, and what area fits the bill perfectly? Elkridge! Elkridge High must open in order to provide relief for Howard and Long Reach and perhaps even Hammond without being too close to any other School. The Elkridge area is just like North Laurel in that it's densely populated but all High School Students must take a long bus ride to their respective Schools. Unlike North Laurel this can be corrected because the need for another High School will present itself within the next few years. I'm thinking that the year 2022 should be the projected opening date for the new Elkridge to make it exactly 70 years after the old School closed and Howard opened. I think that will be a perfect fit for Elkridge to have it open 70 years later rather than 71 years or 67 plus years I like the even number of 70 as almost a celebration of all that's happened in that amount of time. I have the perfect site for Elkridge High as well; Troy Hill Park and Mansion. I don't usually support using park land for a School but I don't know of  another site that's large enough in the Elkridge area not slated for development. The County owns this land as well so site acquisition funds won't be required.
Given that Elkridge hasn't a High School to call its own for 60 years 10 years in retrospect isn't too long to wait don't you?

4 comments:

bruce gibson said...

The first picture you showed is actually the Elementary School in Elkridge. The High School was across the street and was later turned into an apartment complex. Graduates of 1958 were in that high school across the street

Ginny Stickles said...

The high school was moved from the apartment building to the building that housed the old elementary school on Old Washington Road. There is a dedication plaque, or at least used to be in the building. I went to the old Elkridge Elementary, Waterloo Junior High (where Deep Run ES sits) and Howard High. I went to work for the school system in 1987 in the old Elkridge Elementary. I was part of the PTA that fought the long battle for a new building. The property that the new Elkridge and Elkridge Landing sit on was 49 acres owned by the school board, that was donated by a resident, and slated to be sold to a developer. It was a very hushed operation but land records were checked and the rest is history. Thank you for all your research!

Kim Dixon said...

If the county would stop selling out to developers we wouldn't have overcrowding at our schools, the only people profiting from development is developers not us and certainly not our children.

Kim Dixon said...

If the county would stop selling out to developers we wouldn't have overcrowding at our schools, the only people profiting from development is developers not us and certainly not our children.