Freedom Elementary bound by crowding Back-to-school night split to fit all parents

September 09, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Today is the annual back-to-school night for Freedom Elementary School, the fall ritual in which the children stay home and parents come to school to meet the staff, hear an inspiring message from the principal and tour the building.

Scratch that last option about a tour -- this year, crowding has forced Freedom to have back-to-school night a few miles down the road at Oklahoma Road Middle School.

For one thing, Freedom can't fit all its parents into the cafeteria comfortably.But the truly impossible situation is the parking lot, which would be inadequate even if the school wasn't 200 students over capacity, said Ginger Halvorsen, PTA president.

Last fall, back-to-school night was split into two nights, one for primary grades and one for the higher grades.

"Anytime we have a field trip or family night, we provide bus shuttles," Halvorsen said. "Even when we split it into two nights, it's so hot, so crowded. And you just can't move, you can't park."

Many Freedom families also have a child at Oklahoma Road, so there is a natural connection between the two schools, she said.

Freedom and other elementary schools in southeastern Carroll are crowded, but expected to be relieved when Linton Springs Elementary opens in a year or two.

Capacity at Freedom is about 575, but 750 students are in the building on an average day. Total enrollment, including morning and afternoon kindergartners, is almost 800, said Michele Amrhein, the assistant principal.

She doesn't have an exact number, because some people are still registering. Some have recently moved to the fast-growing developments in the area, or are planning to within the school year.

Parents still get a chance to come to school for an evening later this month. Each grade level will have a night of its own at Freedom, for parents to meet with the classroom teacher and see the building.

Amrhein said some other schools have similar back-to-school night schedules. When she was a teacher at Hampstead Elementary, parents could go one night for the schoolwide event and another for their child's grade.

Tonight's event is for all the parents at Freedom, and the whole staff will be there.. Special-area teachers, such as in art, music and physical education, will talk about their programs, and the principal will discuss school issues.

The PTA will be on hand to recruit new members and update them on the status of the playground fund drive. A $1,500 check from the American Legion, Sykesville Post 223 will be presented to the PTA, bringing the amount raised so far to about $16,000. The goal is $23,000, Halvorsen said.

Parents have been raising money since last year with events, including some to honor Bea Mathias, who retired last years after 21 years as school secretary. The playground will be dedicated to Mathias, who was a parent volunteer for several years before becoming secretary.

The schedule for the individual nights for each grade level are: kindergarten, Sept. 24; grade 1, Sept. 18; grade 2, Sept. 22; grade 3, Sept. 17; grade 4, tomorrow; grade 5, Sept. 23.

Pub Date: 9/09/97

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