Looking to bring Blair’s coat home

Parents want to see crest move to current high school

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006

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Laurie DeWitt⁄The Gazette
Parents of Montgomery Blair High School students are trying to get the school’s crest moved from the former school, which is now Silver Spring International Middle School, to the current building on University Boulevard.

Parents are trying to bring a little bit of old Montgomery Blair High School to the current building on University Boulevard.

The school’s red and white coat of arms remains mounted on the side of Silver Spring International Middle School on Wayne Avenue, where Blair was located until a new school was built in 1998.

The PTSA would like to have that coat of arms moved home, said Dave Ottalini, PTSA co-president. A student designed the coat of arms in 1924.

When the building on Wayne Avenue was renovated in 1986, the school was required to add an art component and the coat of arms was created on the side of the building.

The crest is deteriorating; one of its tiles has fallen off, Ottalini said. He would like to see the art restored.

‘‘Our hope is that we would have it removed from [Silver Spring International] and have it brought to Blair, and that one piece of tile would be repaired,” Ottalini said.

Montgomery County Public Schools looked into moving the coat of arms when the new Blair was initially built, said Richard Hawes, director of the department of facilities management for MCPS.

‘‘We determined it would be very difficult to do,” he said.

The coat of arms is ceramic tile cast in a concrete sill that is part of the building’s masonry. It could be difficult to remove it without damaging the tile or the building, Hawes said.

Hawes recently told Blair’s PTSA to create a proposal on how to move the coat of arms and restore the building’s facade, and to determine whether the organization could bear the cost.

‘‘I suggested they get some kind of art restoration specialist to take a look at it and make sure they could get it out without doing some kind of substantive damage,” Hawes said.

From there, Hawes said, he would assess the move’s feasibility.

‘‘I think you can do it, only it depends on how much money you’re willing to spend,” he said, adding the operation won’t be easy.

Ottalini said the cost to move and repair the coat of arms would be covered by the PTSA and other Blair organizations. However, he said, the group has no estimate at this time, as it is still searching for an artist. The PTSA would like to use the original artist, if he or she can be found.

‘‘It’s part of Blair’s history,” Ottalini said. ‘‘It just needs to come home. It’s a link to the past.”