Gazette, 25 Jan 2007
Wise High School gym to be empty for graduation season
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007
by Guy Leonard
When Prince George's school officials, including then-CEO Andre Hornsby, made a case in 2005 for building an expensive new gymnasium at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, they said the system could save money by using its auditorium for graduation ceremonies.
But any projected savings will have to wait at least another year. The school system is renting the usual large auditoriums in the county for the 24 high school graduation ceremonies, and won't be using the 5,000-seat gym at Wise, in Upper Marlboro.
Schools spokesman John White said that Wise High School does not have its own senior class this year and that any future graduations there for other graduating classes would require more planning than this year allowed.
''This is a year to begin planning and preparing," White told The Gazette. ''It takes time to plan and coordinate things properly. We want to do this right."
The school system typically uses the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland and The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro to hold most of the county's 24 high school graduations, which can cost more than $300,000 combined.
But the gym also had supporters for the other uses it could provide.
At the time, Del. Joanne Benson (D-Dist.24) of Landover said Prince George's students deserved ''world class" facilities for graduations or other events.
Del. Melony Griffith (D-Dist.24) of Upper Marlboro also said in 2005 that the gym could be used as a community recreation center for local youth.
The gym was one of the pet projects of Hornsby, who is now under indictment on federal public corruption charges.
The gym's price tag of $6.9 million was a political hot potato in 2005.
The county council, state delegates and community activists sparred
with Hornsby and the school board on the project and the county refused to help fund it.
Hornsby got authorization from the board to seek alternate funding that never materialized.
Hornsby resigned in May of 2005, leaving the gym project behind, which left the county government to foot the bill, which they eventually did.
E-mail Guy Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org