The Wootton Parkway Bridge leading to Wootton High School was renamed June 1 in memory of Principal Michael J. Doran, who believed in building bridges between the Rockville school and its many communities, according to those gathered outside at the dedication.
Doran, who died two years ago, had been principal at Wootton for 12 years.
Naming the bridge for his father is a fitting tribute as Doran believed “education is a bridge to a better life,” said his son, Samuel Doran.
His father always appreciated the benefit of a good education and was the first student in his school in England, which opened in 1897, to graduate college, his son said.
As principal, Doran strove to “bring communities together for a common purpose,” said his son, who along with his mother, Kathy Lavinder Doran, unveiled the sign, officially naming the bridge the Michael J. Doran Memorial Bridge.
The celebration of Doran’s life, which included a short performance by the Wootton Drum Line and red, white and blue balloons attached throughout the bridge, included much praise for the Irishman who died suddenly at the age of 65 on Aug. 19, 2015.
His son talked about how proud he was that his father built bridges in the Wootton community that brought together people from diverse backgrounds, who were involved in different areas of school life. And Doran was often in attendance at those diverse events, be it a sports event – especially soccer, an arts presentation or an academic highlight.
He also was there for his students and parents following the several suicides the school has experienced.
Doran’s legacy lives on in the teachers he mentored “and every student he stole French fries from,” his son said.
“Dr. Doran was just an incredible individual who continues to live on” in the life of the school and the community, said Principal Kimberly Boldon.
Jon Glasner, who graduated in 2015, spearheaded the campaign to rename the bridge after the principal for whom he cared so. He called Doran’s creation of a “community of excellence” his “greatest gift of all.”
“He was very inspirational,” said his former student, James Kuldell, a freshman at Hofstra University, who was one of about 100 people attending the afternoon ceremony.
“He’s someone who was always positive,” added Zachary Lee, who now attends Salisbury University. Right from the first day of school, Doran began shaking hands and asking students’ names, which he “always remembered.”
George Trapaidze, a 2016 Wootton grad, called Doran “a great man, a great principal.” He added, “I remember him always being pleasant. I remember him being quite warm.”
Terri Buck, the school’s attendance secretary who was hired by Doran, said he was “very caring, very family-oriented. When you talked to him, he made you feel very comfortable.”
Doran spent a lot of time in the halls, talking with students and teachers. “He never carried his radio” so that he wouldn’t be called back to the office when he was talking with anyone, she said.
And he always “reminded you, Patriots rule,” Samuel Doran said.