Year in Review: Community Highlights

As the school year draws to a close, Celebrate HCPSS takes a look back at what we’ve accomplished as a community. Here are just a few highlights of what happens when we work together to support all Howard County public school students.

20 Years of Creative Collaborations

The Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School is enjoyed as one of the largest performance venues in Howard County. With a seating capacity of 747, the professionally-equipped theater is a sought-after resource boasting approximately 150 events each season. The theater is self-sustaining with a calendar full of school plays and poetry slams; community cultural festivals, orchestra performances and dance championships; visiting artists, and more.

Wilde Lake High School students performing in the Seussical musical

The Jim Rouse Theatre opened 20 years ago through a unique public/private partnership, supported by county, state and private funding. The theater was constructed as part of an arts wing in Wilde Lake’s newly reconstructed high school.

“The rebuilding of Wilde Lake High School was a unique opportunity to provide much needed public theater space with professional theater amenities, unusual to a high school auditorium,” said Barbara Lawson, the Columbia Foundation president at the time and a lead supporter of the initiative.

“The opportunity became an extraordinary collaboration with the school system, the business community and the Howard County Arts Council (HCAC), resulting in the Jim Rouse Theatre,” Lawson continued. A committee representing the school system, HCAC and the county continue to oversee the theater’s operations, balancing educational and performance needs of HCPSS and the community.

The Jim Rouse Theatre honors its namesake’s original plans for Columbia, which included a large performance space. It is fitting the theater is housed at Wilde Lake, the first high school in Columbia. (See the photos celebrating Columbia’s history →)

Embracing our Inclusive CommUNITY

A student sharing their perspective at the event

This past fall Howard County community members took part in Voices for an Inclusive CommUNITY, an evening of dialogue about establishing and strengthening relationships among students, parents, school officials and law enforcement. The event provided opportunities to understand what HCPSS, the Howard County Police Department and the Howard County Office of Human Rights are doing to promote positive interpersonal relations, and welcomed input on building a more inclusive community.

This event is one step HCPSS is taking to further promote positive behavior, respect for all cultures and diversity throughout the system, as recommended by the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. It also supports the school system’s Vision 2018 strategic plan as HCPSS works to engender a culture of trust, transparency and mutual respect with its family and community partners.

Celebrating the New, Net-Zero Wilde Lake Middle School

HCPSS staff demonstrating the environmental features of the school building to the community and elected officials at the ribbon cutting ceremony

HCPSS officially welcomed the community to the new net-zero Wilde Lake Middle School in January. Parents and community members, along with local and state officials, explored the state-of-the-art learning environment at Maryland’s first netzero school.

The new Wilde Lake Middle School building demonstrates the school system’s commitment to environmental sustainability and support for healthy learning environments. Net-zero energy buildings generate at least as much energy as they use annually. Solar and geothermal technology, which can be used as an instructional tool, assist in powering the new school.

HCPSS constructed the net-zero energy school building to replace the current school, using county and state funding including a $2.77 million grant from the Maryland Energy Administration.