It has been decades in the making, and many in the community doubted it would ever happen, but on Monday morning, September 18, Montgomery County officials broke ground for the construction of a new Seneca Valley High School in Germantown.
County officials, including County Executive Isiah Leggett and Council President Roger Berliner, as well as Montgomery County Public Schools officials such as Superintendent Jack Smith and Board of Education President Michael Durso, gathered on the storied Seneca Valley football field for the ceremonies.
They gathered on the field which has hosted over 40 playoff games since the school opened in 1973. They gathered to dig into the field from which a new massive four-story, 440,000 square-foot high school will rise. The sacred ground on which Screamin’ Eagles have been victorious so often will now play host to academic victories as the new school will be almost centered on the football field.
The new school will be the largest school in the state of Maryland in terms of size. 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.
Principal Marc Cohen said the new school could be an opportunity to bring all of Germantown back together. “I am excited to bring the community back together. I have nothing to do with how the boundary lines are going to be a drawn. What I do know is that when the other two high schools in the immediate area were built, the Seneca community was split to feed those schools. I love the possibility of bringing much of Germantown back together under our roof. I think it is a great opportunity for us to rebrand our community,” said Cohen.
“This is an amazing gift to be able to usher in this project,” continued Cohen. “I love the idea that we are going to double in size. A big school offers us so many more opportunities for learning than a small school does. The kinds of programming that we are going to be able to offer is exciting. We have programs like Project Lead the Way, which is an engineering program, and we will be expanding our International Baccalaureate program.”
The new Seneca Valley High School has been something the Germantown community has been asking the County to build for decades, and while it has been on the County’s “to do list” something would always come along and bump it.
“There are two individuals that have been so crucial to making this a reality, who unfortunately were unable to be here today,” said Cohen, “and it really breaks my heart that they are not here for this event. One is Kevin David, who has been a tremendous advocate for our school as PTA president, and before Kevin, it was Juan Johnson who was our County representative to the PTA and PTA President. Without the two of them, and the advocacy their organizations put forward, this project would not have come to fruition. I can’t state more honestly how important their role was in making this project a reality.”
“This has been a tireless effort,” said District 2 Council Representative Craig Rice. “There have been continued pressures when it comes to our Capital Improvements Budget that have continued to try to push money elsewhere for a variety of project, not just related to schools. So, to keep this one track was incredibly important, but I have to give credit to the people who were pushing on me — the greater Germantown community. Folks like Kevin David, who continued to work for this project – even after their kids were no longer in school and would never benefit from the new building. They continued to say, ‘This has to happen.’ These are kinds of things the really truly bring Germantown together, and I am proud just to be a part of it and help to make this happen.”
“I can’t stop crying,” said Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski. “It has been over a decade that we have been advocating for this for PTA members and as a community to see this come to fruition. I am so excited. It is so important for this community, and it is one of the schools that is going to have the greatest impact on our County as a whole in the way that we are building it with enough size to help alleviate some of the crowding issues at Clarksburg and Northwest.”
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: County officials break ground on the new Seneca Valley High School 2.0 on Monday morning September 18.
Video: The Groundbreaking Ceremonies for the new 440,000 square foot Seneca Valley High School.
Next: A new dawn for Seneca Valley High School, as the sun breaks over the field at Seneca Valley. Photo courtesy Jesse Irvin.
Next: Principal Marc Cohen addresses the students, alumni, and gather County officials.
Next: The Seneca Valley Band helped create a celebratory atmosphere.
Next: County Council members Roger Berliner and Craig Rice at the groundbreaking ceremonies.
Video: The animated architectural flyover of the new Seneca Valley High School property. Video courtesy MCPS.
Photos by Mark Poetker for Germantown Pulse.