Whitman entrance to be rebuilt over summer


Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

By Thomas Mande

Over the summer, MCPS will rebuild Whitman’s front entrance, requiring visitors to enter the building through the main office by prohibiting direct access to the rest of the school.

In the new entrance, either a wall or partition will guide all visitors directly into the main office instead of the foyer. They will then exit the office into the hallway through a new door to be built in the back of the office.

The decision to renovate stems from a countywide security review during April and May of last year following high-profile allegations at Rockville High School, Derek Turner, county director of Public Information and Web Services, said.

Many older schools have direct visitor access into the building without having to go through the main office, which can be dangerous if someone is trying to bring a weapon or stranger into the building, Turner said.  

“If they can go right into the building they can access any classroom, and that puts more students in danger,” Turner said. “With the vestibule function, it limits the contact, and the main office desk is kind of the first line, starting from even buzzing the person into the building. And that’s really good for safety.”

The new door out of the office will be built in a space currently occupied by a trophy case which the county has agreed to relocate. The new case will likely replace a bank of lockers on the first floor, but its location has yet to be decided, Whitman business administrator Elizabeth Hillard said.

Security team leader Cherisse Milliner believes the new entrance will make keeping track of visitors much less stressful, she said.

“We have a major problem with people coming from the outside into the school and not stopping at the main office,” Milliner said. “This way, with the barrier up, they cannot get inside the school unless they go through the main office, which means everyone who enters the building has to stop at the main office no matter what.”