School Superintendent Scott Smith passes the symbolic key to Spring Ridge Principal Wendy Zimmerman

Lexington Park, MD —  A blaze to a St. Mary’s County middle school lit a fire under the bureaucracy that led to the state fast tracking its renovation efforts. The result was on display Sept. 20 during the dedication ceremony for the renovated Spring Ridge Middle School.

On April 25, 2013, a fire destroyed eight classrooms and auxiliary spaces at the middle school that serves the southern part of St. Mary’s County. The school had already been scheduled to be renovated, but the fire accelerated that process.

The state of Maryland sped up its approval schedule to deal with the disaster. County commissioners then kicked in $10 million to jump start the project’s construction. Meanwhile, the school administration, staff, students and parents stepped up to help the community endure the three years of construction as the school began to rise from its ashes. 

St. Mary’s County Superintendent of Schools Scott Smith said the fire “sparked our community to come together to create an opportunity for our students.” New Spring Ridge Principal Wendy Zimmerman added it was an honor to lead the school, as she introduced her predecessor Angela Fulp and the school’s first principal Ed Fitzgerald. 

Among the guest speakers was State Sen. Steve Waugh (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s). “This is a strong lift for the county and the state and I am thankful it has been done,” he said. Waugh said his family moved to the area as his last tour of duty for the U. S. Marines because of the quality of the local schools.

Delegate Deb Rey (R-St. Mary’s) said, “I don’t see the fire as unfortunate. I see it as a blessing from God that no one was hurt.” Sahel added that the fire precipitated the renovation process.

Tours of the newly renovated school were provided after the formal ceremony.

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