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Baltimore charter school celebrates grand opening

Green Street Academy, a sixth- to 12th-grade charter school housed in the formerly vacant Gwynns Falls Junior High School, celebrated its grand opening Monday as U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings delivered the keynote address.

“I can barely recognize my old junior high school,” said Cummings, who attended Gwynns Falls Junior High. “I am inspired by the teaching philosophy and commitment to this neighborhood exhibited by everyone at this school. I know that the dedicated staff at this school will instill every student that walks in these halls to have confidence in their competence to make their future dreams a reality.”

.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings delivered the keynote address at the opening of Green Street Academy on Monday. (File photo)

U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings delivered the keynote address at the opening of Green Street Academy on Monday. (File photo)

Following a $23 million renovation, the new Academy includes chicken coops and tilapia farms which will source local restaurants, virtual reality labs that will take students through active construction sites and partnerships with the U.S. Department of Forestry and the University of Maryland Medical School to provide students with competitive internship experiences and industry certifications.

“The building is an actualization of the vision of this school — to be a driver of environmental, and more importantly, economic sustainability in this community,” Green Street Academy’s Executive Director Dan Schochor said.

The Academy’s opening is a welcomed break from the pattern of divestment from the once middle-class St. Joseph’s neighborhood in west Baltimore. The median income of the neighborhood is now $36,000 and nearly half of the residents have not earned high school diplomas. The Academy believes that its commitment to educating not only students, but parents and residents of the community, will be a critical element in supporting an upward mobility and economic sustainability for the entire St. Joseph’s neighborhood.

Cummings is committed to uplifting the youth of Baltimore.

In July, Cummings joined students participating in the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Summer bioscience Internship Program at an annual luncheon. Cummings, a 1976 graduate of the University of Maryland Francis King Cary School of Law, encouraged UMB to create the program in order to provide opportunities for Baltimore students to learn about careers in biomedical research through hands-on work experience. A video of his remarks to the students is available here.

Cummings will also be the keynote speaker Saturday at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel for the Black-male Orientation to Leadership Development (BOLD) conference. Cummings will be speaking to students in grades eight to 11 who are struggling in school.