Waldorf, MD – The school has been open since last August, but the official dedication ceremony for St. Charles High School in Waldorf was held Friday, May 15.

Charles County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Hill said opening St. Charles was delayed two different times before it could move forward, largely due to the recession and the high cost of building a 1,600-capacity high school.

Hill proudly touted the high-tech features in the James E. Richmond Science Center, the environmental qualities and the swimming pool that provide sound instructional opportunities for students.

“It’s not the bricks and mortar that make the educational program excellent—it’s the teachers, staff and students,” Hill said. “But to quote Senator Barbara Mikulski, ‘Kids cannot compete for 21st-century jobs with 20th-century equipment. No way. No how.’”

It was Mikulski, Hill pointed out, who secured a half million dollars in the Commerce, Justice and Science Funding Bill for the technology and construction of the digital dome at the Science Center.

Also dedicated was the Col. Donald H. Wade Aquatic Center, which according to former Charles County Board of Education Chairman Roberta Wise, almost didn’t happen.

“When we were originally doing the architectural design for St. Charles, the proposal included a year-round pool,” Wise said. “The cost of engineering was rising and they pulled the pool from the school. In September of 2013, Col. Donald Wade went before the county commissioners and told them that St. Charles needed a pool, but he did it in his gentlemanly way.

“Colonel Wade always put children first in everything he did,” she said, adding that it was proper to name the facility in his honor. The pool was finished earlier this month.

Wade’s son Maurice spoke of how his father started to decline in health after serving 16 years on the board of education, however, “it didn’t affect his passion and love for the school system.

“Even when he would come home from dialysis, which were four-hour sessions four times a week, he would have no energy when he got home,” Wade stated. “When Mr. [James] Richmond or Mrs. Wise would call or stop by, he would get this sudden burst of energy.

“He would be very excited about this,” he said.

“It takes everyone working together to build a school,” St. Charles Principal Richard Conley told the assembly.

Those who helped design and build the school and pool were given special pins commemorating their involvement in the process.

Following those presentations, the builders, superintendent of schools Dr. Kimberly Hill, Board Chair Virginia McGraw, and Conley passed the official key in a ceremony, from officials to teachers and students. The congregation then relocated to the pool, which was also dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Former superintendent James Richmond offered remarks at that ceremony, saying Wade should be remembered always for his dedication to the students of Charles County Public Schools, and said it was appropriate for the facility to be named in his honor.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com