The first day of school yesterday brought a contingent of concerned parents and their children to Waugh Chapel Elementary School in Odenton, intent on demonstrating the dangers youngsters face walking to class each morning.
They pointed to a busy intersection students must cross and called for another stop sign to control increased trafficgoing through Odenton to avoid Route 3. They led the way up a trail that offers a shortcut from the intersection to the school and said they worry about the isolated path and a developer's plan to clear theland of trees and build homes.
"We want to make the safety of our children one of our priorities," said Joni Lindsey, a member of the newly formed Chapelgate Community Association and mother of two children, Amanda and Kathleen, who attend Waugh Chapel.
Yesterday, principal Robert Masters handed outbadges and reflective harnesses to a group of fifth-graders acting as guards along the quarter-mile shortcut. They make sure the 200 students who use the trail each day make it safely to school.
Masters then turned his attention to the parents, leading their children across Chapelgate Drive as a crossing guard halted the cars at the intersection of Chapelgate Drive and Greyswood Road.
"It is a fast intersection," Masters said. "Like right there . . . zoom. They really screech through here."
But members of the student safety patrol were unfazed, saying walkers will be safe so long as a crossing guard is around. "I just have to stand here and make sure kids don't run up anddown so they don't get hurt," said 10-year-old Kate Stoddard, a fifth-grader.
Their parents, however, aren't so confident.
During yesterday's "Walk Your Child to School Day," association members said the busy intersection poses a danger. Parents want a stop sign on Chapelgate Drive, which would make the intersection an all-way stop.
About 200 students cross at the intersection to get to a path that winds through a wooded area before coming to the school building.
Lindsey said county police have clocked motorists driving well over 40 mph, nearly double the 25-mph limit.
Then there are the concerns about the trail, located where Greyswood Road would continue if it went through the intersection.
Parents already are nervous about their children walking on the trail, which is why many accompany their children every day and why the principal set up the student safety patrol. "It makes everyone aware that people are watching," he said.
Lindsey said, "Mr. Masters does what he can. But it is a Herculean effort. Safety patrols are just kids."
Soon, the trail could be pavedover -- an Annapolis developer, Woodbridge Construction Corp., is busy clearing trees around the school to make way for a new 227-home development called Four Seasons Estates.
But that's not necessarily good news. The parents want to ensure their children are safe when the developer starts extending Greyswood Road through the intersection and into the new development. They also want the trail preserved or another path built to keep the shortcut and prevent the children from having to walk along another busy road.