Closed school alive again Hub: The former Brooklyn Park Junior-Senior High School now serves the entire community.

November 10, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

For senior citizens, the former Brooklyn Park Junior-Senior High School is a neighborhood gathering place to play cards, socialize and take exercise and craft classes.

For county police, the red-brick building is home to the Drug Awareness and Resistance Education school program.

For teachers, who will work at the county's Alternative High School for troubled youth when it opens in Crownsville next year, the building is a haven in which to think and draft lesson plans.

And for the emotionally troubled children who attend the Children's Guild, the building is "just a perfect environment for kids. There's a lot of space, and our kids need space," said Andrew Ross, president of the Baltimore-based nonprofit agency.

"It's a good environment for our kids and they're thriving here," Ross said.

The Children's Guild, which has a partnership with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, has 22 students ages 8 to 14. The guild works with children who have difficulty concentrating on classwork.

The old high school closed in June 1990, and the students moved to North County High. Brooklyn Park Middle School in the 200 block of Hammonds Lane was to open next year in the renovated junior-senior high building. But that project has been mired in controversy over size, money and scope.

The school's renewed life as a community hub fits with County Executive John G. Gary's stated goal of having public buildings serve more than one use.

The county's Department of Aging, which moved into the building in April, was the first to set up shop in the school.

"We're really glad to see the building utilized and the children and seniors coming in," said Yvonne Hicks, project director for the county's retired and senior volunteer program.

On a recent day, Frank Druzgal, 86, and his friend, Joseph Siemer, 65, both of Brooklyn Park, sat at a table in the school's cafeteria catching up on each other's lives.

"We come down to socialize," Siemer, said, and to take exercise and weight-training classes together at the school during the week.

He said he's glad the county didn't let the school stand vacant.

"If you had left it vacant, it would be an eyesore or someone could get into it and start a fire. It would have been bad for the community," Siemer said.

At a table across from him, Ann Hammer, 80, of Brooklyn Park, bTC sat waiting to resume a card game of gin rummy after her friends finished getting their blood pressure checked.

Down the hall, other seniors made dolls and crafts for Christmas for family and friends.

"We know there are some seniors in this community and we're doing something for them," said Elizabeth Hildt, a volunteer.

Pub Date: 11/10/96

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