Students in the Willard Alternative High School program are starting off the New Year with a new building.
The updates are the result of years of planning and construction, and are funded by MCPS' multi-million dollar Smart Schools 2020 bond program. School administrators worked with architects to design a non-traditional building that would help students feel comfortable and give them more resources to succeed.
The new Willard has science labs, a fully operational culinary lab, music rehearsal rooms, a gym area, individual study pods, makerspaces for students interested in building projects and more. Willard principal Kevin Ritchlin says the old building is special to students and staff, and moving into a new space is difficult for some of them. He says Willard's teachers and support staff are what make the school special, and no move can change that.
"Willard is going to stay the same Willard it's always been, and that relational thing that's so important for our kids will remain intact. It's not going to change" Ritchlin said. "What has changed is simply the space in which the kids have to earn an education."
Ritchlin says the next step is to take down the old building and replace it with a parking lot. That project is scheduled to begin in the spring.