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The Wright Beginning Promises a Great Future!C. Milton Wright High School was constructed in Bel Air, the seat of Harford County, Maryland, in 1980 to relieve severe overcrowding in nearby schools. By 2001, CMW itself was overcrowded with a total student enrollment of 1788, even with several additions to the building. The school’s bustling newness reflects changes in Bel Air’s population during this time. Beginning in the 1970s, middle class, mainly white families have streamed out of Baltimore County and into what had been rural and small-town communities in western Harford County. Between 1980 and 1999, the county’s population increased by 55%, housing developments were built on former farms, and townhouses and condos became ubiquitous along the main roads.

The Harford County School district is the fastest-growing in the state, and CMW is one of the few county schools that have seen increases in student population and upgrades to the facilities. The public schools east of I-95 (Edgewood, Aberdeen, and Havre de Grace) have older buildings, less funding, and more ethnically diverse student bodies than the schools west of I-95. Most families in the eastern cities are working-class, and many of Aberdeen’s students lived “on base,” at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

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Schools in the western half of the county (C. Milton Wright, Bel Air, and Fallston) all serve more homogenously white, upper-middle class families, and the schools are better funded, better equipped, and safer. One clear example of perceived differences between the schools is the local newspaper coverage of drug use: the Aegis has regularly reported on heroin abuse among Fallston’s rich kids, alcohol abuse among CMW’s athletes, and cocaine abuse in Aberdee…

…ollege degree in order to find a good job. About a third of graduates each year go to the community college, and many others go to state schools that are not particularly stimulating centers of learning, but that churn out degrees for the children of ambitious baby-boomers. CMW’s pride in its new facilities and relatively high test scores reveals that CMW is concerned more with appearing better than other schools than with emphasizing the value of learning for its own sake. But it does not profess to be an elite center of learning rooted in traditions like the liberal arts curriculum – it lets students choose the topics and rigor of the courses they take depending on their own educational goals. C. Milton Wright High School effectively serves the needs and values of its community, and offers many opportunities for students to succeed in whatever way they choose.

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