Community rededicates Perryville Elementary School
— The two-year renovation project at Perryville Elementary School saw the addition of many features including an expanded gym, a new media center and all the latest technology.
But during the school’s rededication ceremony, Principal Jennifer Hammer reminded the standing room-only crowd that the school’s most important feature didn’t need any renovations or updates at all.
“Beyond the bricks and
mortar which were a part of the building here at Perryville, there was one main thing that didn’t take any building at all. It was here when the old building was here and it’s here now,” she said. “And that’s the spirit of this school. It never really left at all.”
That spirit was evident on Thursday as cars lined Maywood Avenue and the gym filled up early with students, families, current and former staff and community members who had all come to celebrate the newly renovated school. PVES reopened in August after two years in which students and staff were split between Bainbridge and Charlestown Elementary schools.
The school, which was first known as Maywood Elementary, was built in 1955 and originally totaled 13,000 sq. ft. Before the 2014 renovation, the last renovation was in 1983 and the current school now totals nearly 70,000 sq. ft.
During the re-dedication ceremony, many local and state officials praised the
renovations and also spoke about the importance of community schools. Jillian Storms from the Maryland State Department of Education presented a state citation to display at the school and Mary O’Keefe, representing Congressman Andy Harris (R-1st district), presented Hammer with an American flag that had flown over the capitol.
Toward the end of the ceremony, some of the school’s students sang “Brand New” by Ben Rector and the Perryville High School ensemble was also on hand to perform the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as other songs.
Several local leaders also spoke, many of whom had personal connections to the school community. Superintendent D’Ette Devine noted that she began her county career just down the street at Perryville Middle School back when it was the town’s high school and praised the big turnout for the ceremony.
“CCPS did not accomplish this alone. This was a community effort and as such, is a source of pride to this community and evidence of its success,” she said.
Cecil County Executive Tari Moore also congratulated the community, noted she was “blown away” when she turned onto Maywood Avenue and saw the packed parking lot.
“I might get in trouble for this because my son graduated from Elkton High School but you Perryville parents really have it together,” she said to laughter from the room. “Your sense of community is really an inspiration to me and rest of Cecil County.”
Moore acknowledged that while there’s never enough money to take care of everything that needs to be done, she’s incredibly proud of the relationship between the county and school system. During her tenure as county executive, Moore said she’s been lucky to be a part of three major school projects: the Cecil County School of Technology dedication, the PVES dedication and soon, Perryville Elementary School Principal Jennifer Hammer speaks during the school’s rededication ceremony on Thursday.
the groundbreaking of the new Gilpin Manor Elementary School next month.
County Councilman George Patchell was also pleased to be part of the ceremony, which was a bit of a homecoming for him. Patchell attended the
school growing up and signaled out his fifth grade teacher in the crowd for special praise during his speech. When the school closed for renovations, Patchell admitted being nervous about whether the new school would have the
same feel as the old one but said he’s been incredibly impressed by the updates.
Perryville Mayor Jim Eberhardt was also impressed by the renovations but had an extra reason to appreciate the re-opening of the school.
“Fourth graders, I missed you badly,” he said. “I’m going to be back in January and I’ll need your help on the ‘If I were mayor’ contest.”
Hammer also emphasized the importance of community in her closing remarks. She ended her speech by asking different groups of people to stand starting with the current staff, then former staff, then current and former students, PVES families and finally, anyone who had supported the school in some way.
By the end, the entire room was on its feet.
“Do you feel it now? Do you feel that Perryville spirit?” Hammer said. “Welcome to Perryville Elementary everyone, welcome to your school.”
Perryville Elementary School Principal Jennifer Hammer asked different groups of people to stand during her speech until, by the end, the entire room was on its feet.
Perryville Elementary School students sing a song during the rededication of the school on Thursday.
With her son Connor, 13, watching, Linda Reagan signs the “Why I Walk” banner Saturday at the Out of the Darkness Walk held at the Cecil County Fairgrounds in Fair Hill.
Ev Mueller, organizer of Saturday’s Out of the Darkness Walk, supports Shirley Murray-Bailiff as she addresses the more than 300 people who participated.
Mary O’Keefe from Congressman Andy Harris’s office speaks during the rededication of Perryville Elementary School on Thursday.