Four of the 23 Frederick County Public Schools whose
attendance will be restricted this year for being at or beyond their capacity
are in northern Frederick County.
Walkersville Elementary and High, Thurmont Primary and Emmitsburg Elementary
schools are all projecting enrollment beyond capacity this school year. Each of
those schools is listed as "restricted," meaning they will not allow students
outside their regular attendance area to register.
Despite the overcrowding, several of the schools' principals have a positive
approach to handling this school year's challenges.
Emmitsburg Elementary Principal Wanda Severance said despite projections
last year by developers and their attorneys, saying the school would be below
capacity, about 330 students will attend this year. The school's capacity is
"There's been a lot of development and a lot of new kids," Severance said.
The final attendance numbers won't be available for a few weeks, Severance
said, and so far everything is going well. The students are happy to be back to
school, as well.
"Everybody's pumped up and excited about being here including the teachers
and me," she said.
Walkersville Elementary Principal Stephanie Brown said her school was
projected to house 661 students this school year, but about 681 students are
registered so far. Walkersville has been over capacity before and was closed to
outside registrations last year. The building's capacity is 541 students.
The school has five portable classrooms outside the main building to handle
the overflow. But despite what some might consider an inconvenience, Brown said
some teachers and students like the portables.
Children in grades three and five use the portables, and many like the fact
that they can adjust the heat and air-conditioning independently for each unit.
They also like being able to make a little more noise than is allowed in the
Brown calls that "opportunities to engage in cooperative learning," but the
bottom line is the teachers can let the children participate in learning games
that are sometimes too noisy to do in the open spaces of the main building.
"Would we choose to expand our building if we could? We certainly would,"
But until then everyone will make the best of what they have, she added.
Principal Debra Myers of Thurmont Primary School wasn't expecting to be over
capacity so soon after the school opened. Only a few years old, the school has
three portables outside this year, for second-grade students, and is at 111
She is thrilled, however, with the way the teachers and students are
handling the situation precipitated by starting all-day kindergarten at the
school this year.
"The teachers and children are doing very well because our teachers worked
so hard at making their environment welcoming and child-friendly," Myers said.
"They have done a superb job of creating learning communities."
Myers said the teachers put down new carpet and put "pretty things" on the
walls to make the environment inviting.
Myers said she was not surprised to hear each school was handling the
overcrowding in a positive way.
"Our teachers can rise to the occasion and do what they need to do for the
benefit of the kids," she said.
Walkersville High School officials were not available for comment before