Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Banner School to expand in current Frederick location

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The Banner School is planning to add two new programs this fall.

Les McLean, Banner’s head of school, said after years of discussions among the board of directors, the independent, co-educational school on North Market Street in Frederick is ready to grow beyond its kindergarten through eighth-grade offerings.

Two new programs include pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, and the Banner Collegiate School, a college preparatory school for gifted and talented students.

Ninth grade will begin in the 2008-09 academic year, with a class of 12-15 students; grades 10 through 12 will be added over the following four years.

‘‘We’ve got great people, great kids and a great energy,” he said. ‘‘This is an opportunity to create a dream school for this community and we’re going to take it.”

McLean said the programs will occupy separate wings of an existing building on the school’s property, on land owned by the International Order of Odd Fellows in Baltimore. Renovations will make it ‘‘a state-of-the-art, wired building” for the prep school, he said.

The expansion means that The Banner School will occupy all three buildings on the Odd Fellows land. The buildings were a former orphanage, nursing home and gathering building for the fraternal organization.

Canterbury Station LLC has an agreement to purchase the land and build 546 housing units there, but recently extended the school’s lease through July 2009.

Two years ago, The Banner School announced plans to build a 45,000-square foot building in Walkersville to accommodate growing enrollment.

When the new Frederick Board of County Commissioners took office in late 2006, the board reversed the prior board’s water and sewer plan, leaving the project in limbo.

McLean said he hopes a March hearing with commissioners settles the Walkersville property issues, but ‘‘we are committed to a school in Frederick County.”

‘‘If something more presents itself, we won’t turn our back to it,” he added.

The school has planned a pair of open house events this spring. The first will be held 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday. The second is 9-11 a.m., March 12. For more information, call 301-695-9320, ext. 32.