High-tech equipment and less traditional classrooms will greet students at the new Burleigh Manor Middle school when it opens Aug. 31.
Students will use VCRs, laser disks and wireless headphones in foreign language labs. Each classroom also will be equipped with a color television and overhead projector.
"I'm ecstatic about this," said English teacher Kathy Lathrop of Howard County's 13th middle school. Burleigh Manor is among three new schools opening this year. School administrators will welcome visitors during Open House Monday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Next to Centennial High School off Route 108, Burleigh Manor also has a science lab that features an eye wash basin and shower head in case of emergencies.
The school has everything except teachers' desks inside the classrooms.
"I don't want teachers to sit behind their desks in class," said Principal James DeGeorge, who is transferring from Ellicott Mills Middle School. "I want to make kids feel real invited, I want to give them lots of contact."
The two-story brick building accommodates about 700 students in grades six through eight. About 550 students have already enrolled.
Although Mr. DeGeorge said he believes in "management by walking around," the school's layout enables him to keep an eye on things from his office, which overlooks the library in the center of the school.
"The library is the center of building, where I can keep a pulse on all the different activities," Mr. DeGeorge said.
The school will accept students from Dunloggin Middle, Waverly Elementary and Centennial Lane Elementary schools. It has chosen blue, gold and gray as the school colors, and a bobcat as the mascot.
Despite creating new school colors and a mascot, making the transition between new schools was not easy for some students.
"There was a lot of crying on the last day of school," said former Dunloggin student Devyn Sutten, 12, who knows of friendships that ended when students were forced to attend different schools.
But the seventh-grader brightened at the prospect of meeting freshmen and watching her older brother compete in track events at nearby Centennial High School.
"It's going to be an adventure," Devyn said.