Officials and students broke ground on a new Walker Mill Middle School on Monday, one of six school projects that will begin construction this week in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The new Walker Mill is the first of six new schools intended to address aging buildings, growing enrollment and a middle school seat deficit in the state’s second-largest school system.
Schools CEO Dr. Monica Goldson said at Monday morning’s ceremony, “When I pick up that shovel, I’m going to pick it up to represent the voices of 134,000 students, 19,000 employees who deserve to work in the best facilities possible, and for all their parents who want us to create memorable experiences that will propel their students to be amazing citizens, not only in Prince George’s County, but across the nation.”
Principal Erin Cribbs said the original Walker Mill school opened in 1971, adding, “The Mill, as we affectionately call it, has and will continue to be a beacon of education for those who desire to lead, reach and impact the world.”
And Marcus Bryant, a former student at Walker Mill who is headed to high school, said, “When I was in fifth grade, I was honestly a little nervous to go to Walker Mill — I heard so many negative things about it. … I’m hoping that the rebuilding of this school will either change that or mark the beginning of changing that.”
He added, “The rebuilding of Walker Mill Middle School will be the first step in ensuring that all future current and past students will truly be proud to say that Walker Mill Middle School was in school.”
The new construction projects are part of the county’s Blueprint Schools initiative.
Ceremonies will follow through Wednesday with events at Adelphi Middle School on Monday, Drew-Freeman and Kenmoor middle schools on Tuesday and Hyattsville Middle School and Southern Area K-8 Academy on Wednesday.
Prince George’s County is the first public school system in the nation to use a “full-scope alternative financing model to design, build, finance and maintain a multi-school construction program,” according to a Monday news release.
Officials said the county has the second-oldest school buildings in Maryland, and over half are more than 50 years old.
The schedule for the rest of the groundbreaking ceremonies:
Monday, June 28
2 p.m. — Adelphi Middle School, 8820 Riggs Rd., Adelphi
Tuesday, June 29
9 a.m. — Kenmoor Middle School, 2501 Kenmoor Dr., Landover
2 p.m. — Drew-Freeman Middle School, 2600 Brooks Dr., Hillcrest Heights
Wednesday, June 30
9 a.m. — Southern Area K-8 Academy, 12500 Fort Washington, Rd., Fort Washington
2 p.m. — Hyattsville Middle School, 6001 42nd Ave., Hyattsville
WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.