THIS THURSDAY IS not only the first day that the entire student body will be attending the new Brooklyn Park Middle School - it is also Safety Walk Day.
Safety is a serious concern, as an estimated 300 of the pupils will not be riding buses to the new school this year.
Many will have to deal with the perils of crossing Ritchie Highway and Hammonds Lane during the morning rush hour.
The school's Citizens Advisory Committee has chosen Thursday to educate pupils about walking to school safely.
Principal Brenda Hurbanis said members of the CAC - which comprises elected officials, county police DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officers, Board of Education officials and parents -will advise students to take safe routes to school and talk about traffic safety.
"The CAC was concerned about the safety of the students and wanted to get them to travel safely," Hurbanis said.
Crossing guards will be stationed along Ritchie Highway at Hammonds Lane and 11th Avenue.
Hurbanis said that for pupils walking from Olde Brooklyn Park, Belle Grove and Brooklyn Heights, "the preferred route is to cross Ritchie Highway at 11th Avenue, walk up Morgan Road, make a right at 14th Avenue to Park, make a left on Valley Road and follow the walking path to the school."
Because of construction along Church Street, pupils walking from Roland Terrace and Arundel Village are urged to walk along Walton Avenue.
Drivers on Ritchie Highway will be able to identify Brooklyn Park pupils because they will be wearing "BPMS 2000" blue and green T-shirts Thursday.
Community associations and local businesses donated funds so that each student could have a new shirt.
The CAC also has worked with the county police to create a Block Watch program in the community. Students will be able to approach certain homes in an emergency.
"Households who volunteered for this program have been screened by the police and have been provided with a poster to place in their windows.
These homes are located throughout the walking routes," Hurbanis said.
CAC member Marion Miller said volunteers are asked "to just keep an eye out for the students to catch the little things when they start."
Volunteers are welcome to join the Block Watch program.
Those interested in the program should call the Northern District Police Community Relations Office, Lt. Athena Baker, 410-222-8560.
Hurbanis and the Brooklyn Park staff have spent the last weeks of the summer fine-tuning the school for its inaugural year.
"We're all moved in and ready to go. We have 72 faculty members; 51 of them are members of the teaching staff.
"There are teachers from every feeder school and as far away as Dallas, Texas. We are responsible for the maintenance of the entire complex, so we have a huge custodial staff," she said.
In addition to the middle school, the building on Hammonds Lane will house the Brooklyn Park Senior Center, police DARE offices, a park and recreation office and the Chesapeake Center for Creative Arts.
They are scheduled to move in next month.
Library's family program
Families with children ages 1 to 3 are invited to participate in new session of "A Family Place" beginning Sept. 7 at the Brooklyn branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
"A Family Place" is a five-week workshop that allows parents, caregivers and children to meet, socialize and share information and concerns.
The workshop will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon each Thursday this month.
Professionals from health and community service agencies will attend the free sessions to provide information about services and programs to help families with children.
The library branch is at 300 E. Patapsco Ave.
Information: children's librarian Gloria Bartas, 410-396-1120.
Fall brings storytime
The Brooklyn Park branch library will begin its fall programs with an "Autumn Storytime Extravaganza" for preschoolers this week.
Storytimes will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesdays and 7 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 26.
Activities will include stories, crafts and music. There is no fee.
The library is at 1 E. 11th Ave.