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Innovative Former Principal Recalls School's History

On a day about the future of Waverly Elementary/Middle School, a former principal recalled the past.

During a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Waverly Elementary/Middle School, former principal Lou Franz’s tenure was remembered for his dedication and ingenious fundraising.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke joked about how Franz turned Waverly Elementary School’s parent-teacher’s organization into one of the wealthiest in the city by charging people to park at the school before games at the old Memorial Stadium.

"I used to see him every Orioles game, every Colts game waving the cars in to park," Clarke said.

Franz, 86, attended the groundbreaking on Tuesday, and recalled how his fundraising technique even raised the ire of legendary former Mayor William Donald Schaefer.  

"How do you make money other than what I give you?" Franz said Schaefer asked him.

Eventually the Baltimore City Public Schools put a stop to Franz’s fundraising, and took over charging people to park at the school.

Franz, who served as principal at the previous and current Waverly Elementary School buildings between 1977 and 1989, also recalled his love of the original building.

The original Waverly Elementary was an ornate turn of the century building built with brick, terra cotta and a slate roof that was torn down to pave the way for the current structure that opened in 1981, but has already outlived its usefulness.

Although he would have to do things—such as climb a ladder to the roof each morning to start the heating system in the old building—it remains special to him.

"My heart was in that old building. It was a classic," Franz, a Tuscany-Canterbury resident, said.

Edward Williams, 43, said he has lived in Waverly for 37 years and attended the old and the current Waverly Elementary schools. He shot video with his cell phone of his former principal talking to reporters after the groundbreaking.

Williams said Franz was a hardworking principal who neighborhood kids could depend on.

"He was the first one here in the morning and the last one to leave at night," Williams said.

But Franz wasn't totally fixated on the past. He said he was glad to see a new school coming to the neighborhood.

"They need it," Franz said.

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James Furst August 02, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I worked for Lou Franz as a speech pathologist from 1978 to 1987. He was dedicated to the needs of the childeren as well as a very strong advocate for his teachers. He had an effective way of expressing a sense of appreciation for what we were trying to do which kept moral among the staff very high. He helped to create a very positive atmosphere; it was a such pleasure working with him. I have nothing but fond memories of my time at Waverly School # 51. Those were some golden years ! Jim Furst

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