Plans for Brooklyn Park center are under way


August 15, 1999|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A YEAR from now, the old Brooklyn Park High School will start a new life. It will be the new home of the Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts, Brooklyn Park Middle School, the county Police Department's Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program and the Brooklyn Park Senior Nutrition Site.

The center's staff plan to offer a wide range of arts education and culturally diverse performing and visual art programs.

For Brooklyn Park residents, that means performances by symphonies, dance troupes, art exhibits and music, art and dance instruction for all ages will only be a short walk away.

Wayne Shipley, the acting executive director, hopes the community will take an active interest in the center's programs.

"There is very much support here, but people don't know what [the facility] is," he said. "Right now it looks like a war zone. They know that a middle school is coming, but that's about it."

"There's a lot of pent-up demand for this," said Ned Carey, president of the board of directors. "We had 85 people attend our early meetings. They were held on Friday nights, and people came out to express their support. Not artists, but regular people from the community who wanted to see what this was all about."

The center's opening event in January 1998 drew a full house.

"We had 1,100 seats then," Carey said, "and I didn't see an empty seat anywhere."

Even though the official opening is a year away, outreach programs to county schools have begun. A middle school dance program is in the works, along with an audition workshop for high school students presented by Gary Wheeler and John Strawbridge, members of the Actors Company Theater. The company will be in residence at the center.

Both men have impressive credentials.

Wheeler has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists for 15 years. He appeared in the film "G.I. Jane" and has a role in the new Harrison Ford film, "Random Harvest."

Strawbridge is an accomplished lighting and stage manager. For the past 10 years, he has done casting for film and television, working on the films "Home for the Holidays," "Enemy of the State," "Absolute Power," "Cry-Baby," "Serial Mom," "Pecker," "Avalon," "Liberty Heights" and the television series "Homicide."

Those familiar with the school building might still recognize the layout. The middle school will use all three floors of the west wing, which also will house the Senior Nutrition Site. DARE will work out of the east wing on the first level. The Chesapeake Center will occupy portions of the northern wing, as well as the auditorium.

The auditorium seats 850. Theater technicians will control a lighting and sound system that allows wireless sound and services for the hearing-impaired.

The old library will house dressing rooms, space for rehearsals and a gallery. Classrooms will become art and dance studios, and work areas for artists in residence. The band room will be used for music instruction, rehearsals and a studio theater.

On the ground floor, the Chesapeake Center plans to turn the woodshop into a clay studio, kiln room and an area for woodworking classes.

Shipley said residents are welcome to get involved. "People are coming out of the woodwork to help us," he added. "They call every day and say,`I want to help with this, what can I do?' "

For information about the center and its outreach programs: 410-590-6610.

Alumni association meets

The Brooklyn Park High School Alumni Association has scheduled a meeting at 6: 30 p.m. Thursday at the Brooklyn Park Library, 1 E. 11th Ave., to talk about bylaws and the fall outing.

All former students, faculty, staff and friends of the school are welcome. Information: 410-789-7214 or 410-626-3269.

Reunions planned

Brooklyn Park High School Classes of 1968 and 1969 are holding a combined reunion from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Oct. 16 at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie.

Tickets are $30. The Meros Brothers, Brooklyn Park graduates, will provide music.

Information: Tom Thompson at 410-859-1774.

Computer group meets

The Brooklyn Park Commodore Users Group plans to meet at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Brooklyn Park Library, 1 E. 11th Avenue.

The group promotes and finds new uses for the Commodore computer, a model that was used in the 1970s. Instruction and a parts swap are available. Information: call 410-761-2119.

Snuggle Bunnies

Snuggle Bunnies, a program of songs, finger play and creative movement for children up to 2 and their caregivers is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Brooklyn branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at at 300 E. Patapsco Avenue. Information: 410-396-1120.

Into the blue yonder

Jason Hacker, a graduate of North County High School, has begun classes at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Hacker also had been nominated to attend and had been accepted at West Point, the Merchant Marine Academy and the Coast Guard Academy.

But he chose the Air Force and began intensive basic cadet training at the 18,500-acre Academy this summer.

Hacker also was accepted into the engineering division of the Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University. He maintained a near 4.0 grade-point average while taking Advanced Placement and honor courses and participating on the varsity cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams.

He says he intends to pursue a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the academy and hopes to be trained as a fighter pilot and an astronaut after graduating.

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