Paint Branch High School

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Paint Branch High School
14121 Old Columbia Pike
Burtonsville, Maryland, 20866
United States
School district Montgomery County Public Schools

Paint Branch High School is a high school located in Burtonsville, an unincorporated section of Montgomery County, Maryland.

It is named after the Paint Branch creek. The school was founded in 1969 and is part of the Montgomery County Public Schools System. The school lies on Old Columbia Pike, between Briggs Chaney and Greencastle Road. The school's address is 14121 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866.

Paint Branch, once a rural high school now deep in the heart of suburban sprawl, is a member of the Northeast Consortium schools in Montgomery County. As a member of the Consortium, the school's signature program focuses on Science and Media education. The panther is the school's mascot, and the school song is 'Hail to the Panthers', which is sung to the tune of 'Hail to the Redskins'. The school's colors are burgundy and gold, also the same as the Washington Redskins.


In the late 1960s Springbrook and Sherwood High Schools were already overcrowded, and plans for further growth in the Northeastern part of Montgomery County were in the offing. A new high school was planned to open in 1969 in the Fairland area on Old Columbia Pike near Briggs Chaney Road. The Board of Education was considering several possible names, and sought the help of the community in the search. One name considered was Columbia High School. However there was fear that this would intrude on the rapidly growing planned community of Columbia, Maryland, just to the north in Howard County. Since the Paint Branch Creek Watershed flows just by the neighborhood, Paint Branch High School was the first choice of the Board. The plan was to have the name be Paint Branch High School for the first year, and then have a vote by the community on a permanent name at the end of that year.

There was discussion among students of naming the school after John Glenn, former astronaut and senator from Ohio and a local group of citizens wished to name the school after a patriarch of a local family, O. B. Robey. The Board stopped the discussion and decreed that the name would be Paint Branch High School.

At the end of the 1969-1970 school year, the students voted to retain the name - Paint Branch High School.

In September 1969, the doors of Paint Branch opened to students in grades 9-11. The founding principal was Dr. Mark Nejako, and his assistant principal was Mr. Robert Smith. The original student body consisted of 665 students drawn from the Springbrook and Sherwood areas.

The original intention of the school system was to make Paint Branch a "technical" high school complete with a large auto mechanics and auto body shop. However, pressure from the community caused the designation as a technical school to be dropped. Nevertheless, the misleading moniker stayed with the school well into the 1970s.

The Middle States Association visited the school in 1973-1974 after a year of self study. The Middle States Assessment Report gave the school excellent status in all areas. Suggestions for improvement were concentrated around improving on the number of students challenging themselves with honors and Advanced Placement courses. Therefore, much of the efforts in the latter 1970's were concentrated in that area.

The size of the student body soon outgrew the capacity of the school building. In the school year 1975-1976 the feeder schools became junior high schools and Paint Branch housed Grades 10 through 12. This arrangement continued until the addition was built in 1987. The school again became a four-year high school beginning with the 1988-1989 school year.

Dr. Nejako retired in June 1979. Steven Dickoff - at the time, principal of Belt Junior High - was selected to be Paint Branch High School's second principal. The Middle States Report from the Assessment in 1984 was flattering in all areas except the size and services of the Media Center. This was the impetus for the addition built in 1987 and the refurbishing of the existing building in 1988. In addition to the larger Media Center, a state-of-the-art TV Studio was added. The number of classrooms was doubled, and a second gymnasium was added.

Steve Dickoff left Paint Branch at the end of the 1988 school year to become the first principal of the newly built Watkins Mill High School in Montgomery Village. Dr. Edward Shirley, from Sligo Middle School, assumed the position of principal. Under Dr. Shirley, the student body continued to grow in size, and several Advanced Placement courses were added. After three years, he was promoted to Community Superintendent, and was succeeded by Rebecca Newman, Paint Branch's first female principal. However, Dr. Newman was in the position for only three years before taking over as principal of Thomas S. Wootton High School.

In 1995, Mr. Fred Lowenbach became principal of Paint Branch High School. Since he had been the principal of Benjamin Banneker Middle School for the past several years, Mr. Lowenbach brought with a thorough knowledge of the community.[1] It was during his tenure that a huge change was made in the history of Paint Branch - The Northeast Consortium of High Schools was established.

Ms. Jeanette Dixon became principal of Paint Branch in July of 2001. Ms. Dixon is a graduate of American University (BA History) and Loyola College (M. Ed Administration and Supervision). Prior to becoming principal at Paint Branch, Ms. Dixon served as the principal of White Oak Middle School for four years. Ms. Dixon’s achievements include the implementation of the following programs at Paint Branch: Rebecca F. Baber Academy of Finance Program; NJROTC Program; $1.4 million Smaller Learning Communities Grant(shared with Blake HS); Expansion of the Signature Program, directed by Brian Eichenlaub, with the addition of the Radio Program and Pharmacy Program; and guiding the modernization process for the new Paint Branch High School which was completed in 2012. Ms. Dixon won a number of awards including: the first NAACP-MCPS Outstanding Principal Award, in 2009, Maryland PTA Education of the Year Award in 2011, and in 2012, the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.


  • Mark Nejako - 1969-1979
  • Steve Dickoff - 1979-1988
  • Edward Shirley - 1988-1992
  • Rebecca Newman - 1992-1995
  • Fred Lowenbach - 1995-2001
  • Jeanette Dixon - 2001-2013[2]
  • Myriam Rogers - 2013-present


The Panthers have fielded a total of 21 state championship athletic teams, including Girls Basketball (1979, 1980, 2001, 2008), Baseball (1976, 1979, 1990, 1991), Boys' Basketball (1977, 2000), Wrestling (1978, 2001), Boys' Cross-Country (1973, 1974), Boys' Track and Field (Indoor 2003, Outdoor 2003), Girls' Track and Field (Indoor 2009, Outdoor 1989), Field Hockey (2009), Softball (1987), and Football (1975).

Paint Branch Hall of Fame[edit]

The Paint Branch Hall of Fame was established in 2002 by Principal Jeanette Dixon to recognize and honor staff and alumni who have made outstanding contributions to Paint Branch High School.

Notable alumni[edit]


  • Awarded the "Blue Ribbon Award" in 2000
  • Awarded a "New American High School Award" from the United States Department of Education in 2000

New building[edit]

A new building is now established in the location that the woods next to the football field once occupied. As the only school at that time without a new building, Paint Branch High School was guaranteed a new building when it was asked to enter the Northeast Consortium back in 1998. The new building was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010, but budget shortfalls pushed that date until April 2012, resulting in the class of 2013 being the first class to graduate from the new building. Hess Construction Co. was awarded the contract to build the new school. Hess Construction Co. is also the builder of the Kenmore Middle School in Arlington County, Virginia. Staff moved into the new building June 18, 2012.

The old Paint Branch building, originally scheduled to be torn down in the summer of 2012 was torn down in October 2012. Sports fields were completed by the 2013-2014 school year.


  1. ^ Ford Loeb, Patricia (21 December 2000). "At Paint Branch, the Principal Difference; In Five Years, Educator Has Turned A Troubled School Into a Success Story". Washington Post  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Rose, Kara (30 May 2013). "Paint Branch High principal leaves behind a legacy". Washington Post  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Struck Down, Clark's 'Response' Has Been Uplifting

External links[edit]