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Rock Creek, MD: New special school opens; 'SPED in 1972 was much different'

After more than five years of planning, design and construction, the new Rock Creek School building opened its doors for the first day of class on Wednesday…. Rock Creek provides special education to Frederick County students between 3 and 21 years old with significant mental and physical disabilities. The previous building in Frederick stood at about 55,000 square feet. The new facility, which cost nearly $50 million and shares a campus with Walkersville Middle School, represents a massive upgrade for the school’s roughly 70 students. At 79,000 square feet, the building is state-of-the-art, Buckley said, and every element was designed with Rock Creek’s students in mind. There’s the sensory room outfitted with twinkling lights and vibrating massage chairs that pulse in time to music, plus the enclosed courtyard with wheelchair-friendly playground equipment. The hallways are lined with foam cubbies to give overstimulated students a quiet place to hide, and each room is equipped with plenty of soft, flexible seating options…. “Special education in 1972 was much different than special education is now,” Buckley said. “Over time, as special education law has shifted and the mindset has shifted, our student population has shifted.” So the new Rock Creek building brings the facility into line with the needs of its current population, Buckley said. While the old school did have a sensory room and a motor room, she said, the spaces weren’t designed for those purposes — rather, they were created “piecemeal over time” when donations or grants came in….


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