Xavier McCoy, 17, of Accokeek said he knew the new Oxon Hill High School building was the real deal when he walked down a first-floor hallway and saw all of the kitchen equipment for the school’s culinary arts program.
“I said, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is crazy,” the high school senior said.
The new $92 million school, which opened in August, has been touted as a high-tech facility that will connect with students living in a technological age. McCoy and other students said the new technology has motivated them to perform well.
Not every tool is set up yet, but the students received Google Chromebooks, laptops using the Google operating system, on Nov. 11. The school’s wireless capabilities help teachers and students stay connected with their online educational software, Edmodo, which lets teachers put lectures and notes online for students, McCoy said.
Oxon Hill is the only county high school to give laptops to all of its students, said Max Pugh, Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesman.
“It is like night and day,” McCoy said, referring to the comparison between the new building and the old one next door, which was demolished. “Little by little, it is becoming the school we imagined.”
The new school was dedicated Nov. 6 at a ribbon cutting event attended by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Dist. 4) of Suitland, county schools CEO Kevin Maxwell and other special guests. Each speaker said getting the school built was a team effort that took more than a decade.
Baker tasked the students with taking advantage of the new school and using its new technology to enhance their education.
“This is your day,” Baker said. “This is your school. This is your moment.”
Jean-Paul Cadet, Oxon Hill High School’s principal, said the old school was one of the oldest buildings in the county and couldn’t support students’ instructional needs.
The new building is loaded with technology that improves the students’ learning experience. It has touch-screen computers, enough wireless bandwidth for the entire school to stream video simultaneously, and a 3-D printer that architecture students can use to see their work and assignments come to life, he said.
These investments have paid off, with many students showing more interest in their work, Cadet said.
“What we found is that our students are more technologically savvy,” Cadet said. “They are more engaged with what is most familiar with them.”
The school was built according to United States Green Building Council standards, in hopes of getting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification, according to the new school’s fact sheet.
The school can apply for the certification after all of its facilities are completed next year, Pugh said.
The certification is given to buildings that meet energy-saving standards. Buildings are awarded points based on their energy-saving efforts, which determines what level of award — certified, silver, gold, platinum — the location receives.
Fort Washington resident Marcel Adams, a senior at the school, said the technology helps him and other students stay focused. The laptops will be a big help, he said. Every student will have a computer at home that can access the school’s online teaching tools.
“It is a very big difference,” Adams said. “It helps to motivate.”