ribbon cutting

Worcester County Superintendent Lou Taylor, Showell Principal Diane Shorts and several local and state officials cut the ribbon on the new elementary school that opened its doors for the first time this school year. The 9,600-square-foot school has been ready for full use for more than a year, but the covid-19 pandemic forced the Showell community to settle for distance learning in the 2020-21 school year. 

It took more than a year after construction finished, but state and local representatives finally celebrated the opening of the new Showell Elementary School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.

“We know this day is long overdue, but we appreciate your patience and understanding along this journey,” Showell Elementary School Principal Diane Shorts said in her remarks from a podium in the school’s outdoor amphitheater, which is built right into the school’s exterior. “I’m very excited to hold our celebration here … because (I’m standing) in one of the most exciting and forward-thinking projects of this new school … We are able to open up this beautiful wall of windows to transform our indoor stage to this outdoor amphitheater, where we can showcase our fantastic student performers.” 

The 9,600-square-foot school — nearly twice as big as the former school — officially opened in September 2020, but with covid-19 shuttering schools across the country in favor of distance learning, it wasn’t until the current school year that the Ocean Pines-area community truly got to see the $47 million facility firing on all cylinders.

“It is a dream come true to have our doors open and children here every day benefiting from the beautiful new building,” Shorts said afterward. “As the principal it is wonderful to have our fourth-grade students back from Berlin Intermediate School and our second-grade students inside the building instead of in trailers. The new technology allows our teachers to increase engagement for the students in their lessons and students can show their creativity in a multitude of ways.  

Several Worcester County Commissioners and State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza were among the public figures in attendance.

Speakers included Shorts, Worcester County Superintendent Lou Taylor, Board of Education President Elena McComas and Worcester County Commissioner President Joe Mitrecic.

“Those gathered here on this special day know all too well that the old Showell Elementary School facility’s age, degraded condition and lack of classroom space Made a replacement necessary,” Mitrecic remarked. “That’s what makes today’s dedication of this new state-of-the-art school a genuine cause for celebration.”

Mitrecic went on to underscore the importance in continued investment into education initiatives.

“The commissioners remain committed to securing the funding necessary to guarantee that our children are provided with exemplary education opportunities, to allow them to remain competitive as they move up through the school system,” he said. “Through very careful planning and funding, the county and state have worked hard to provide our students with world-class schools, teachers, learning tools and other resources necessary for success. The new Showell Elementary School is a major stepping-stone along our path to securing an even brighter future for our children.”

The morning included a presentation of colors from the Stephen Decatur High School JROTC Color Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance led by a Showell fourth-grader and a performance by the third- and fourth-grade chorus.

Looking to the future, Shorts said the top objective is to remain cautious.

“The main goal right now is to make it through this pandemic safely,” she said. “And to be able to open our doors to the public so they can see all the hard work that was completed to make this school state-of-the-art and a perfect learning environment for students in this community.”

Construction of the new school included the demolition of the old one to create the parking lot and bus loop.

Enrollment at Showell is currently 660 students, according to Carrie Sterrs, Worcester County Public Schools coordinator of public relations and special programs. That number includes the fourth grade, which had been displaced to the Berlin Intermediate School before Showell’s opening.

This story appears in the print version of the Ocean City Today on Oct. 29.

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