On my way to another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore, I decided to check out my old school. At the time I attended the official name was the Old Mill Educational Complex but on this more recent visit I saw a sign that indicated that the official name has since been modified to the Old Mill Schools.

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Once upon a time in the late 20th century someone at the Anne Arundel County Public School System had this idea of building this large complex that would have three schools in one. Two of them would be smaller middle schools, known as Old Mill Middle School North and Old Mill Middle School South, and each student would be assigned to one of the middle schools based on where he or she lived. The middle schools ran from grades 6-8. Once a student finished time in one of the middle schools, he/she would then go on to the larger high school that’s the largest school in this complex, Old Mill Senior High School.

This complex is totally sprawled out, which this panoramic shot shows below. I remember in my time around 4,000 students attended the high school part and I graduated in a class of 500 students.

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At the time this behemoth complex was built, I was attending seventh grade at Corcoran Junior High School, which was a school I was miserable at because of the bullies. Had this complex not been built, I would’ve spent grades 8 and 9 at Corcoran then transferred over to Glen Burnie High School for grades 10-12.

But since the complex was built I was sent over there where I spent five miserable years—one year at Old Mill Middle School North for the 8th grade and four years at Old Mill Senior High School for grades 9-12. Those years were so bad that I wanted to drop out and study for my GED instead buy my parents pressured me to stay. Those kids at that entire complex were so brazen that I documented one such example last year where this bully swiped my middle school yearbook and wrote this autographed where she confessed to being my bully and she liked it. I’ve not only posted her confession but also her name and school photo last year. (I’ve received zero blowback from what I did.)

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics. They would constantly hype the latest exploits of the school football or basketball team over the PA system during morning homeroom. I remember when a guy who was a grade ahead of me in high school was accepted at Cornell University and the teachers and administrators were shocked that this kid was accepted by an Ivy League school. He also wasn’t an athlete so he was accepted to Cornell based on his grades instead of his prowess on the playing field, which further shocked that school. That was how low that administration’s expectations were on students’ academic achievements because the administration were so focused on sports.

I remember one year during my time there when the parents at the PTSA in that school were so appalled by the high school’s overemphasis on sports that they met with the principal to address their concerns. Nothing came of that meeting because that school continued to emphasize sports.

It’s telling that my years were so bad that my best high school memory was Graduation Day because I knew I never had to attend that school again. In the years since I went to that school I’ve heard that the high school had added an International Baccalaureate school that’s available only to certain students. But, based on online reviews I’ve read that were posted by parents of more recent students here, the word is that while the International Baccalaureate school program is excellent, for average students who aren’t able to get into the IB program, they are still paid less attention by the administration (especially if they aren’t athletes).

While other high schools in the county were known as “open campus” where students were allowed to leave campus for lunch then return, Old Mill resisted this and all students were required to remain on campus for lunch. In fact we weren’t allowed to leave campus for any reason unless we were among the lucky few students who had an off-campus internship. (The students who were on the business track study were the only ones who qualified for this.) As a concession the school provided a smoking area outside of the cafeteria for smoking students to enjoy a cigarette break. Thanks to finding this “No Smoking” sign, I now know that the smoking area is a thing of the past.

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The next photo shows the main entrance to the complex. Basically you enter through the doors where there are three additional sets of doors—one for each school. I only used those doors when I went on field trips. I used to enter through the back because the back entrances were closer to my neighborhood than the front, which would’ve added an extra 10-15 minutes of walking time. (Yes, I walked to school because my home was located within the 1-mile limit so the school system didn’t have to provide bus service.)

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Here is my salute that shows how fond I am of my five years at the Old Mill Schools.

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As you can guess, I shot these photos during the school’s summer break because there were very few people around. (There is a skeleton staff that works in the offices but they get off at 4 p.m.) During the school year I probably would’ve gotten some unwanted attention, especially if someone saw me shooting that last photo. I shot some video as well for a potential future project that’s currently a vague thing in my mind right now so I don’t know if anything will come of it. I just wanted some video footage in case I decided to do an art project based on my high school memories. I didn’t stay long because it was hot that day and I was on my way to Dr. Sketchy’s Baltimore, which I’ll write about in my next post. (Link is definitely NSFW.)

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