Grasping The Ivy League
Dr. Marco Clark Discusses The Bishop McNamara High School Campaign To Open New Age Campus
By Natasha Pollard // @natasha84865123
Part Two Of A Three-Part Series // Click here for Part One: High Impact
It’s the heart that matters at Bishop McNamara High School, according to the “Faith. Family. Future! Capital Campaign” leaders.
“There’s a lot of good and exciting things happening at Bishop McNamara,” says Dr. Marco Clark, President/CEO of Bishop McNamara High School.
Dr. Clark, a native of Prince George’s County, has served for 23 years at the school – 13 years as principal and 10 years as the President/CEO of Bishop McNamara. He’s also a 1985 graduate of the storied school.
Clark’s children are actually third generation graduates of Bishop McNamara and his mother, Nancy DeCesaris Maimone, was a graduate of the La Reine (1960) before it merged with Bishop McNamara in 1992 to become co-ed. He has deep roots, the Mustangs are in his blood.
And now, there’s expansion coming to the institution known for education—-and community.
School administrators, community leaders, teachers, students, and supporters have gathered together to develop the expansion campaign for the La Reine Science & Innovation Center at the Upper Marlboro-based school.
The creation of the new Science and Innovative Center will enable Bishop McNamara to provide additional STEM education for students.
“There is so much interest in STEM education today,” says Clark. As a result, Bishop McNamara began exploring its role in this popular and effective approach to education.
Bishop McNamara teaches STEAM, which combines the arts with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
“This is something that Bishop McNamara is really very committed to and wants to form in our students as innovators of the future,” says Dr. Clark.
This is an important initiative for the school, that is so solidly grounded in a very robust fine arts program, arguably the most comprehensive fine and performing arts program of any Catholic school in the country.
The Innovation Center will have seven classrooms--five of them as traditional science labs--a chemistry, three physics and a health sciences. There will be an Innovation Lab, complete with state of the art hardware, such as 3D printers, vinyl cutters, drill presses and machines that make computer components, designs and a cyber security lab.
There will also be an entrepreneurship center. The center will give students the opportunity to develop entrepreneurship skills to grow their ideas. With models like the TV show, Shark Tank, students will be able to pitch ideas on a competitive level. There will also be a multimedia broadcasting studio.
“This new building will be a game changer,” says Dr. Clark.
“It was important in doing research and preparation for this building project to meet and develop plans with many of the community partners, including sponsors such as Steve and Diane Proctor, and consultation with C-Suite officers.”
The Proctors, a leading family in the county, head G.S. Proctor & Associates, Maryland’s largest African American owned lobbying firm. Their son, Trey, graduated from Bishop McNamara where they learned of the school’s higher academic results and impressive culture. As board members and campaign leaders, the couple places much of its time and influence in the school even as Trey has gone on to graduate college. They saw the impact BMHS made on Trey: He was prepared for college but it was more than that, he was ready for life in general.
“There are absolutely awesome and amazing stories that are told and each student has his or her own story,” says Steve Proctor, president and CEO of G.S. Proctor & Associates. “It's really fascinating to hear them tell of the phenomenal journey they have been on. And they're ready! They're ready to go to college. You see them getting accepted in the best schools in the country. You see students getting scholarships in dollars in record numbers and socially they are just ready. They're mature and they're ready to go.”
Steve Proctor served on the board, giving his time, and now works with his wife, Dianne, to help Bishop McNamara with the campaign capital.
“We are really going to celebrate with the school and the community when this campaign is completed. We will always be a part of the school,” he said.
BMHS administrators did their homework to be certain what the new academic centers should provide for tomorrow’s workforce.
“We went to the CIO of Lockheed Martin and leaders of universities to really try to understand what the need was,” Clark continues.
“We began to think, ‘How can Bishop McNamara have this Innovation building better serve the community, not just the students that we serve’,” says Dr. Clark.
Bishop McNamara’s leaders reached out to Walter Simmons of Employ Prince George's, who heads up the workforce initiative of the County.
“The building will function for our school purposes during the day. In the evening, it will host certification programs for adult professionals who seek certifications in cyber security, IT certifications and other fields.”
This will also allow the Innovation Center to be utilized as a Workforce Development Center as well as a summer youth enrichment program location for programs such as coding in cyber security.
“We just really thought it was important for us to make it (the Innovation Center) a centerpiece in the community. It will provide something for everyone, not just the local community families that we serve.”
Bishop McNamara is already ideally sized to offer a range of courses. Currently, the school offers 197 courses, yet is small enough for personal experiences, with a ten to one student/teacher ratio. The school also offers 20 athletic programs and over 60 activities.
“We're able to keep it small enough so that we keep it really very personal with every student. They’re known, they’re loved, they're served,” he explains.
“I like to tell our kids all the time that their parents are not sacrificing all that they're sacrificing to send you here to be followers in life. They're sending you here to become leaders in life and we're going to be ethical leaders the most. That’s going to be the attention that we give, so part of what we talk about with opportunities, is that we've been solidly grounded in the liberal arts,” says Clark.
With college prep liberal arts, Bishop McNamara teaches their students all the things that they “should know to be successful in the next level, and in life, not just college, but in life.”