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Official Groundbreaking Set for New Seneca Valley High School

As teachers and students prepare to head back to class on Tuesday, the initial stages of work have begun on the new Seneca Valley High School in Germantown.

The fencing which will outline the work area is up and on Wednesday, crews could be seen working in the gymnasium side parking on removing the median to allow for cars to pass through, the new shrunken version of that lot.

Seneca Valley Principal Marc Cohen has confirmed that the school and MCPS will hold a massive official Groundbreaking Ceremony at 8:30 am on Monday, Sept. 18. According to Cohen, the ceremony will take place on the football field, and the entire student body of the school will be in the stadium stands for the event.

The new school, once completed will be a massive four-story building centered on the area of land currently occupied by the football stadium. The building will be 440,000 square-feet and will be the largest school in the state of Maryland in terms of size, according to Cross. It will have a capacity of 2,400 students, nearly double the current enrollment of 1,278 students.

The increased capacity to Seneca Valley High School provides the opportunity to address projected overutilization of nearby Clarksburg and Northwest high schools through student reassignments in the future. The cost for the new school construction is estimated to be around $130 million. The new school will replace a school which was built in 1974.

“This is a major project,” said Dennis Cross, a project manager with Montgomery County Public School’s Division of Construction. “The new school will be coming in a 440,000 square feet. It will take over as the largest school in Montgomery County and the largest school in Maryland.”

At a meeting with the Seneca Valley Parent Teacher Student Association in May, Eric Garcia with Mosely Architects the firm which designed the new school provided detailed information about the design of the new high school.

Garcia said that main entrance to the new school will remain on Crystal Rock Drive but will be further into the property than the current building.

The building is divided into five floors covering two portions of the structure. The upper portion of the building will consist of Floors One through Four. The lower portion will consist of a Ground Floor and the First Floor. However, not all floors cover the entire building. The building is separated into a two-story section and a three-story section.

“The way we structured the plans is that you walk into the first floor from the main entrance,” said Garcia. “The main entrance, where you walk in will be two-stories tall with nice open light in a large gathering area. The administration area will be right at the entrance. Also, near the main entrance will be the health area and classrooms. Around the corner are the SCB and life skills classrooms, as well as child care.”

The media center is on the first floor along with Garcia called “Main Street” which is a large corridor which runs the length of the building and separates the upper portion from the lower portion.

According to Garcia, In the middle of “Main Street” will be stairways and an elevator down to the cafeteria/gathering area, which when not used for lunch will serve as a pre-show gathering space as the doors to the auditorium are located off the cafeteria. “This area is open and looks down into this high volume space which will be very nice large open area. There will be windows which allow light to pour into the space downstairs,” said Garcia.

The Ground Floor is in the rear of the building and consists of the gymnasium, the auditorium and the cafeteria, all of which are two stories, as well as supporting rooms for each of those features, such as the kitchen, locker rooms, team rooms, band rooms, costume and makeup rooms, music rooms, as well as rooms for set storage for the drama department. The Ground Floor will also house the Auto Lab for auto repair classes.

According to Cross, “In addition to the dining space for lunch, it also provides and nice after hours gathering space for either basketball games in the gym or performances in the auditorium. It is large enough that there could be a basketball game in the gym and a performance in the 900 seat auditorium and that would still be an adequate gathering space.”

“On the ground floor is also team rooms, and locker rooms, as well as concession, stands for gym events, and concessions stands for events taking place out in the football stadium,” said Garcia. “The locker rooms will have doors from on the exterior of the building which can be used for outdoor football games, as well as bathrooms, and outdoor event storage areas.”

“And on the auditorium side of the building are rooms and classrooms for music and choral groups,” he said. “There is a drama room, as well as room for set building and storage. There is a large exterior door which will make it easy to move large items into the building and to the stage for productions. The area also has special dressing and makeup rooms and costume storage areas.

The Second Floor, which will be in the upper portion of the structure will be comprised of 17 classrooms and five art rooms. The balance of the floor will be used for offices and administrative rooms.

The Third Floor will house the bulk of instructional classrooms, with 34 rooms dedicated to serving as classrooms on this floor, as well as a separate Staff Development Room, a Special Education Room, and a Reading Development room.

The Fourth Floor has the smallest footprint only occupying about two-thirds of the upper portion of the structure. On the Fourth Floor are 14 science rooms as well accompanying prep and support rooms.

“The bulk of the science classrooms are on the fourth floor, but there are two earth-science classes on the first floor because there is a greenhouse associated with those classes. It made more sense to put them on the first floor,” said Garcia.

The stadium will be located adjacent to the Ground Floor of the building, and there will be a terrace between the school building and the stadium. “The back top of the stadium is level with the grade behind it. You will come out of the building and come to the edge and look down at the bleachers and field. You can access the bleachers from the top or the bottom. The stadium will have Home bleachers on one side and Visitor on the opposite side of the field,” said Garcia.

In June, the Montgomery County Board of Education awarded $138.4 million to Ijamsville-based Dustin Construction, Inc. The new high school is expected to be completed and ready for students in the fall of 2020, while the demolition of the current school and construction of athletic fields are scheduled for completion by the fall of 2021.

Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of articles about the construction of the new Seneca Valley High School. Look for more articles about what students, parents, and community members can expect as the Seneca Valley community begins to grapple with the challenges of building a new school while continuing to use the existing building and grounds.


Top: The fencing has been constructed in the parking lot of Seneca Valley High School signaling that construction is set to begin in earnest. The school and MCPS will hold an Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new high school on Monday, Sept. 18.

Video: The architectural animated flyover of the new Seneca Valley High School property.

Next: The architect’s plans for the First Floor of the new Seneca Valley High School.

Next: The architect’s plans for the Ground Floor, which will house the auditorium, the gym, and the cafeteria.

Next: The architect’s plans for the Second Floor of the new high school.

Next: The architect’s plans for the Third Floor of the new high school, which will house most of the instructional classrooms.

Next: The architect’s plans for the Fourth Floor of the new high school, which will house most of the science classrooms.

Photo by Germantown Pulse. Images courtesy MCPS and Mosely Architects.

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