Facelift at Fifty
The schools’ first two graduating classes will also hold a celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary on Sept. 13 at Oregon Ridge Lodge in Hunt Valley. The celebration for the classes of 1966 and 1967 costs $85 and includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, a deejay, an open bar and a souvenir.
“I reconnected with all these people I wouldn’t have talked to,” said Steve Hiken, a member of the class of 1966 who has reached out to people in advance of the fall reunion. “I’m calling people on the phone I haven’t spoken to maybe since 1969, 1970.”
Hiken was a junior when Pikesville Senior High School opened in the fall of 1964 for his class and a class of sophomores. According to classmate Ron Levine, who was a sophomore that first year, it was one of the most modern schools in the county. He remembers language classes with theater-style seating and headphones.
“It really was a state-of-the-art school when it opened,” said Levine.
The auditorium and gym were still under construction that fall. There was no football team, but there were tennis and golf teams. Levine remembers girls taking record albums with them into the courtyard, opening them up and putting aluminum foil in them to tan.
Academics, though, was where Pikesville really stood out, according to Hiken and Levine. Classes were full of innovative people who went on to achieve great things, they said.
“Pikesville Senior High was a way to get into college,” said Levine. “I would have to think some 90 percent went.”
A Place to Grow
Ask Pikesville’s current students what the school means to them and they’ll say it continues to meet their academic and social needs.
Senior Kara Seidel joined the school newspaper as a sophomore and found the mix of students and variety of topics to be just what she needed.
“I think that was really the key for me coming out of my shell,” she said. “I saw other classmates coming out of their shells too, because there are so many different pages and different aspects to the newspaper and so many different positions that we can all work together and do our own thing and be creative.”
Senior Tyler Dunston found his school family on the track and field teams, which won the institution’s first boys’ and girls’ indoor track state titles in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“The track, pretty much, is the family,” he said. “When we go out on weekends, I’m with them.”
Outside of electives and extracurricular activities, the school is now working to beef up its academic offerings.
Project Lead the Way, which will have its first graduating class next year, exposes students to engineering through a variety of mediums.
“The idea is, with everything changing in the world, to really prepare the students to be competitive in the global economy, to be competitive in college, to have more experience hands-on that most kids won’t experience before they go to college,” said Scott Nichols, Pikesville’s STEM chair.
The school was named a STEM Innovation School by the Maryland Business Roundtable and the Maryland State Department of Education in late 2013.
As part of the program, freshmen take introduction to engineering design, in which they use 3D modeling software. Digital electronics comes in 10th grade, with students hand-wiring circuits and learning about electrical engineering. In 11th grade, students in principles of engineering learn about civil, structural, mechanical and geotechnical engineering, while seniors work to create a solution to a real-world problem of their choice and present their work to a board of community engineers at the end of the year.
This month, Nichols’ 11th-grade students were building and programming metal robots to sort glass, acrylic and steel marbles by type.
“The beautiful thing about it is we have 10 different groups who have 10 different designs,” he said. “The idea is to simulate a machine that would sort recyclables.”
Next year, there should be seven to nine sections of the entry-level class for freshmen so that Project Lead the Way will be open to the entire school, noted Nichols. Students will then apply to stay in the program beyond their freshman year.
In addition to the STEM classes, the school offers a multimedia program that has students learning Adobe programs, Web design, video-graphy, photography, computer game design and interactive art.
Richard Disharoon, who taught music at Pikesville for 40 years starting in its first year, said the introduction of the multimedia program in the early 2000s was one of the best additions to school’s offerings.
“Students who were very creative but had no means of expressing it … they could be difficult in English, math and science classes, but if they were accepted into the multimedia program, they became totally absorbed in school and you could hardly get them out of the multimedia room,” he said.
Alex Jerome thinks he’s been lucky in his school experiences because of his involvement in the multimedia program. Last summer, a multimedia teacher contacted him to work on a business plan and a website with a venture capital firm. Jerome, who will be majoring in business at the University of Maryland, said the experience has given him unique insight into his future field.
“This opportunity has opened so many doors,” he said.
The all-class Pikesville High School celebration and reunion takes place on Sunday, May 4, from noon to 4:30 p.m. at the school, 7621 Labyrinth Road. Visit phs.edu for more information. The 50th anniversary celebration for the founding classes of 1966 and 1967 will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 6:50 p.m., at Oregon Ridge Lodge, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville. Visit reuniondb.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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