BALTIMORE — For one-time Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, the facts are quite simple.
Ninety-nine percent of Baltimore City College High School students are accepted into college, and a key to that is a solid, 21st century library where studying and research can be achieved in the best of settings.
Schmoke, now the president of the University of Baltimore, has quietly helped City College Principal Cindy Harcum and other officials raise more than $674,000 for a new school library and academic center.
On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, a public effort to raise $2 million began with what officials called a “Torch Burning Bright Kickoff and Pep Rally.”
“A new library will help ensure that students, faculty and parents have access to the technology they need for instruction, research, and college preparation in a space that preserves and celebrates the historic nature of the school’s early 20th century gothic building,” said Schmoke, a proud alum of City College.
Officials have noted that the current library is outdated and existing media resources are for the most part, inaccessible. There are no e-books at the school and the library hasn’t undergone a comprehensive renovation in four decades.
“I spent a great deal of time in that library when I attended,” Schmoke said. “It’s really dear to my heart and there is a need to have a modern facility that addresses today’s needs.”
The campaign is a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools, City College alumni, parents, students, faculty and the larger Baltimore community to build a cutting-edge academic hub suitable for the nationally renowned college-preparatory school now in its 176th year, Harcum said in a statement.
The campaign will raise the funds needed to build a new library in a building that opened in 1928. Funds will also be used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, including computers with ready access to online databases and other digital resources.
“The goal is to create a modern academic center where students can research and learn and be well-equipped to meet the demands of the digital age,” Harcum said. “The installation of a new technology infrastructure will enable a significant number of students to gain Internet access that they currently lack.”
In just six months, the Torch Burning Bright campaign has secured $674,000 in contributions and commitments from individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as the Baltimore City Public Schools.
“We have corporate groups that have made pledges and some who have already made donations,” Schmoke said. “The school has an outstanding principal and all of us are proud that she’s a City College High School alum because it builds upon the legacy.”
Harcum and other school officials say the renovation will create the perfect harmony between the past and City College High School’s future, its tradition and quest to innovate.
By exposing the original terrazzo and stone flooring in the hallway and reading room and separating the hallway from the library space, the renovation will honor the historic nature of the space, according to Harcum. At the same time, the renovation will outfit the space with wireless Internet, multiple projector screens, plug-in-play workstations, and technology that students and teachers depend on in the 21st century.
“With a physical space that reminds us of our tradition, and the resources necessary for the future, student’s creativity will be catalyzed, helping them come up with innovative solutions to complex problems,” the principal said.
Also, because every great institution has “The Place,” a central space where students can go and know that they are safe and surrounded by those on a quest similar to their own, the new library promises to be that place.
“It’ll be a place that can inspire,” Schmoke said. “It can heal and transform.”
To make a donation, send payment with “BCC Library” in the memo line, to 800 North Charles Street, Suite 400, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. To make a secure online donation, visit: www.citycollegelibrary.org