By Laura Barnhardt Cech
There are families willing to fight traffic and log long miles in the car to send their children to Maryland private schools no matter how far.
Teenagers huddle in the dark outside the Annapolis Trader Joe’s with backpacks and granola bars. Most are still bleary-eyed as they begin their hour-long ride to school — a pre-dawn mental fog familiar to anyone who commutes for work.
Other families put half-sleeping kids in backseats and make the long trek to private school solo, using the quiet of the morning to talk and finish breakfasts wrapped to go.
“It’s a family commitment,” says Cynthia Crawford, who drives her 13-year-old son, Sawyer Lynch, from Annapolis to Baltimore, where he attends Gilman School. “But happy kid, happy family… To see the transformation in him — it’s absolutely worth the drive.”
They are hardly the only ones. Buses leaving from Trader Joe’s near the Annapolis Town Centre and Einstein Bagels in Severna Park are filled with students headed north for schools in and around Baltimore. And schools in Annapolis draw students from Baltimore and the Eastern Shore.
At Annapolis Area Christian School, for example, dozens of students travel more than 30 miles, coming from five counties, says Jennifer Good, a school spokeswoman. To get to McDonogh School in Owings Mills, more than 75 students ride the bus from Annapolis, according to school officials. And admissions officials at Gilman say 30 students come from Anne Arundel County, and 32 more students travel more than 30 miles, as far away as Bel Air and western Howard County.