‘A Day Of Pride’ In Celebrating New Showell Elementary

‘A Day Of Pride’ In Celebrating New Showell Elementary
Members of the Showell Elementary chorus are pictured performing at the school’s outdoor amphitheater. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

OCEAN PINES – School system leaders and elected officials celebrated the new Showell Elementary School with a ribbon cutting Friday.

Though the school opened in the fall of 2020, COVID-19 concerns delayed any gatherings at the school. Officials were finally able to host an outdoor ceremony last Friday to celebrate the state-of-the-art facility.

“We believe that our students and staff need facilities that mirror the workspaces of tomorrow, workspaces that adapt to new changing standards and technologies,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said. “As you can see, the new Showell Elementary School truly embodies this kind of learning environment. Today truly is a day of pride, extreme pride, for the Showell Elementary community and for all of Worcester County and Worcester County Public Schools.”

Showell Principal Diane Shorts welcomed a crowd of elected officials, educators and representatives of the construction and design team to the school during Friday’s ceremony, which was held in the school’s outdoor amphitheater.

“We know this day is long overdue, but we appreciate your patience and understanding along this journey,” Shorts said. “I’m very excited to hold our celebration here in particular today because it is in one of the most exciting and forward-thinking projects of this new school. In a stroke of architectural genius, we are able to open this beautiful wall of windows to transform our indoor stage to this outdoor amphitheater where we can showcase our fantastic student performers.”

Following a performance by Showell’s student chorus, Taylor talked about the school system’s mission—preparing students for the future.


Elected officials are pictured surrounding Showell Elementary Principal Diane Shorts and Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor at last Friday’s ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

“That begins right here at the elementary school,” he said.

He praised the Worcester County Commissioners for the funding support they provided to the project. Elena McComas, president of the school board, also spoke about how grateful school system leaders were for the funding Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) received from the county.

“On behalf of the board of education want to thank everyone here today for playing such an important role in this capital project,” she said. “We’re thrilled that the students and staff of Showell Elementary School now have a facility which reflects not only their past and present successes but also reflects the necessities for success well into the future.”

McComas said school board members couldn’t limit themselves to thinking about the present.

“We make decisions that prepare our school system for the demands of educating tomorrow’s youth because it takes many years as we know to bring a project like this to fruition,” she said. “We recognize there are always present-day reasons that tempt us into stalling significant projects such as this but the bottom line is our children and community needed this school.”

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, said the old school’s degraded condition and lack of classroom space made its replacement essential.

“That’s what makes today’s dedication of this new state-of-the-art school a genuine cause for celebration,” he said, thanking his peers, school system leaders, the Eastern Shore Delegation and the Interagency Committee on School Construction.

He said the commissioners were committed to securing the funding needed to ensure children were provided with the educational opportunities that would allow them to remain competitive.

“The new Showell Elementary School is a major stepping stone along our path to securing an even brighter future for our children,” he said. “Here in Worcester County improving school facilities has been among our top goals for many years and it will continue to be the top initiative that steers us into the future.”

Construction of the new school began in September 2018 after years of planning. Educators and parents had long advocated for a new building, as the facility built in 1976 was outdated and overgrown, with nine portable classrooms and not enough space for fourth grade. Though county officials wanted to build a new school, they were quick to express concern when initial estimates came in near $60 million.

Commissioner Chip Bertino praised the Worcester County Board of Education for making changes needed to bring the project to fruition.

“The board of education did a few things that really made a difference,” he said. “One was they got a new superintendent of schools, which was a huge factor in us being able to build this school.”

He said school board members Jonathan Cook and Bill Gordy, along with Taylor and WCPS Facilities Planner Joe Price, played key roles in making sure the project happened. Bertino also credited the efforts of Commissioner Jim Bunting.

“We’re just really happy we got this done,” Bertino said. “There were a lot of people that made it happen.”

Bunting, who at that time was president of the county commissioners, recalled how Cook set up a breakfast meeting with him to find a way to move the project forward despite cost concerns. A group of county and school system officials went on to tour area schools and brainstormed ways to reduce the building’s price. In the end, their efforts reduced the school’s cost to $48 million.

“It was a lot of work,” Bunting said, adding that the initial meeting orchestrated by Cook heralded a spirit of cooperation between the school system and the county commissioners. “That breakfast, we moved forward. Later on, it just continued to be a good relationship between the county commissioners and the board of education. With Superintendent Taylor, that relationship just grew.”

Both Bunting and Bertino, who represent District 6 and District 5, said their constituents are thrilled with the way the school turned out. They like the natural light, the improved security, additional bathrooms and added space.

“The other thing is we got rid of the trailers,” Bertino said. “Now from a security standpoint we feel that our kids are much safer in this school.”

Bunting said he thought the decision mid-planning to add another wing to allow for future pre-kindergarten growth was also a good one.

“I think that was a smart move — money well spent in the long run,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.