Members of the Maryland General Assembly endorse the renovation of the Kennard School in Queen Anne’s County

Kudos to the Maryland General Assembly, District 36 delegates Mike Smigiel (R), Richard Sossi (R), and Mary Roe Walkup (R), and state Senator EJ Pipkin (R)  for endorsing the plan to renovate the old Kennard School.  The Kennard School was the only high school for African Americans in Queen Anne’s County.  It was built in 1936 and named after Lucretia Kennard who was the supervisor of “Colored Schools” in the county for several years.  The school taught all grades in that same building until shortly after WWII, a separate building was built for the high school (that

The Kennard School as it looks now (Taken from http://www.historyqac.org)

The Kennard School as it looks now (Taken from http://www.historyqac.org)

building is the current Kennard Elementary School).  In 1966, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools were integrated, closing the Kennard School.  During the 1966-1967 school year, the old Kennard School buildings were used as the temporary home to Queen Anne’s County High School while construction was being

complete.  Shortly afterwards, the old Kennard building was boarded up.  In the past 30 plus years, the building has fallen into severe neglect.  The Kennard Alumni Association hopes to eventually renovate the school to become a community cultural arts center.

Below is an article about the endorsement from members of the Maryland General Assembly.  This article was written by the Star Democrat, a newspaper based out of Easton, Maryland…

Kennard alumni seek to renovate old high school

By KONRAD SUROWIEC Staff Writer
Published: Friday, March 6, 2009 4:36 AM CST
ANNAPOLIS Representatives of the Kennard Alumni Association briefed Eastern Shore lawmakers on the project to renovate the old Kennard High School into a cultural heritage center and asked for support of a $300,000 bond bill for the project.Clayton Washington and Charles Nesbitt, of the Kennard Alumni Association, found a receptive audience Friday at the meeting of the Eastern Shore Delegation. Washington reviewed the history of the school and the multi-phase project to convert the 73-year-old building into the Kennard High School African American Cultural Heritage Center. The goal is to have a center that hosts cultural, educational and recreational programs for youth and adults from throughout the Eastern Shore.

“We know, even in these tough economic times, we cannot be deterred,” said Washington. “… This is our ‘field of dreams.’ When we have completed it, they will come.”

The original Kennard High School located off Little Kidwell Avenue in Centreville was built in 1936 at a cost of $2,600. It had four classrooms, a principal’s office and a small library. During the years of segregated public schools, it was the only high school for black students in Queen Anne’s County. Larrie S. Jones was the school’s first and only principal. The building was expanded in 1947, then a new high school was built on the adjacent grounds in 1951.

“The ‘old’ Kennard High School was used in conjunction with the new school until its closing in 1966, in favor of the new ‘integrated’ Queen Anne’s County High School,” read a handout from the alumni association with information about the school and the renovation project. “The 9,400-square-foot-building, which was magnificent for its time, stands ‘silently vacant’ today. The property has significantly deteriorated through non-use and lack of upkeep over the past 35 years.”

Phase 1 of the project involved stabilizing the building, including removing asbestos and putting on a new roof. Washington said about $240,000 was raised by the alumni association for phase 2, which will involve exterior building renovations. He said an architect has the plans for phase 2 plans, and construction will hopefully start this spring. The $300,000 bond bill along with matching funds to be raised by the alumni association would fund phase 3. The old heating plant, piping and radiators will be demolished, and new piping for heating, cooling, plumbing and sprinkler systems will be installed along with new plumbing fixtures. Phase 3 will also include upgrading the building’s electrical system.

Washington compared the building rehabilitation to medical treatment of a patient, saying phase 2 will be a “face lift” and phase 3 will include a “heart transplant” and putting in a new “nerve system.”

House Bill 253, which calls for a state debt of $300,000 to fund the grant for the Kennard High School project, is sponsored by the three delegates from the 36th legislative district, Republicans Richard Sossi of Queen Anne’s County, Mary Roe Walkup of Kent County, and Michael Smigiel of Cecil County. Senate Bill 482 is sponsored by state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-36-Upper Shore. HB 253 was assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. SB 482 was assigned to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

“I think you’ve done an excellent job,” said Del. Page Elmore, R-38A-Wicomico. “… History of the Eastern Shore should be preserved as it was, not pc (politically correct).”

“It’s a very fine project. You’re moving in the right direction,” said Walkup. “It shows a very committed and dedicated group of people, and you’re sure to get it done.”

Copyright © 2009 – The Star-Democrat
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~ by Kyle Dixon on March 8, 2009.

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