An endeavor decades in the making comes to fruition this fall when Crofton High School finally becomes a reality, marking the end of an era for the many Crofton households who have heretofore been divided between Arundel High and South River High and have spent years asking, “When can we get our own school?”
The 13th high school in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system will serve approximately 800 to 850 incoming freshmen and sophomores who feed into it from Crofton Middle, as well as Crofton, Crofton Meadows, Crofton Woods and Nantucket elementary schools.
For Principal Katie Feuerherd, it’s an exciting moment. “Most principals do not get this opportunity,” she explains. “When you get promoted to a principalship in a school, there are already existing staff, a culture, practices and procedures. Having a voice in creating all of this for Crofton High School has been a very rewarding experience.”
Although she says the many parts of planning weren’t necessarily surprising, they were still noteworthy. With the exception of design and construction, Feuerherd has been involved practically every step of the way, from choosing the name of the school and its mascot—the cardinal—to developing the school goals and values.
Opening a new school has also required planning out the programs of study that will be offered, the furniture that students and teachers will use, the equipment and materials that will be needed, the entire school staff that will be in place and the school-based structures and practices Crofton High will embrace.
All of this planning continued without interference during its final phase, when the coronavirus pandemic prevented school leaders from meeting in person. “Most of our planning and hiring during the spring months had to be done through online platforms,” Feuerherd explains. “However, we were able to stay on track with our planning.” This also meant devising several plans for the fall semester depending on whether schools would be conducted in an in-person, online or hybrid environment.
Even before class is officially in session, Feuerherd has had numerous opportunities to meet with students and parents, beginning in August 2019, when nearly 500 community members attended the school naming meeting and Feuerherd was able to introduce herself and her goals for Crofton High.
This interaction continued with the mascot design committee, the PTA/PTO interest meeting,9th- and 10th-grade scheduling nights, the planning meetings for the school’s Signature Program, a student leadership social, and even electronic messages with families about extracurricular programs.
Ultimately, Feuerherd seeks to make her school a place where students are challenged in the classroom through “rigorous and engaging instruction” and “have a connection to school beyond the classroom” via clubs and groups.
“My vision for Crofton High is that we are a school that is inclusive of all, where diversity is celebrated and where students’ social-emotional needs are supported,” she explains.
Even as the new school year approaches, some aspects of the educational experience remain to be determined. Feuerherd was unable to comment as to whether Crofton would start its clubs and similar extracurricular activities virtually. Whether athletics practices can be held will be determined by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association no later than the first day of school on September 8.
Regardless, the Crofton community looks forward to the opening of its long-anticipated high school even if it is from afar for the first semester. Whatever the case, says Feuerherd, “I am honored to be on this journey with the students, families and communities of Crofton.”