$450,000 grant buys big dreams


August 11, 2002|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SUN STAFF

THINK OF what you could do with $450,000.

Buy a new car. Take a long vacation. Or perhaps buy a house in the country or start a business. It could take time to decide.

When Principal Brenda Hurbanis of Brooklyn Park Middle School learned that the school was awarded a $450,000 grant from the Comprehensive School Reform Program, she didn't hesitate one minute before deciding how to spend it. Hurbanis and the rest of the school staff will use the funds to continue their mission of making Brooklyn Park the premier middle school in the county.

The CSRP award is a competitive statewide grant. It gives officials an opportunity to review the entire school and its processes to determine what can be done to enhance pupils' educational experience.

Hurbanis said Brooklyn Park was the only middle school in Anne Arundel County to receive a CSRP grant and that the school will not have to use the funds to support remedial programs.

"This is a proactive grant," she said. "We will use it to get ahead of the wave."

In October, the Southern Regional Educational Board will come to the school to analyze its performance and needs. The board will focus on determining if, by the end of eighth grade, middle school pupils are ready to study algebra, have the technical and laboratory science skills to succeed at the high school level, have a good understanding of government and economics, can read, write and speak at acceptable levels, and pass all skills tests.

After the report is received, the school will be ready to use the funds to implement the recommendations.

Brooklyn Park's test scores show that the school is well on its way to ensuring that pupils are ready not only for high school but also prepared for life.

"We look at the performances and we know that our programs are working," Hurbanis said. "The number of students on the honor roll has increased; the number of students enrolled in algebra has increased.

"This tells us that things are working," she added.

Hurbanis said one area the staff will try to improve is the school's outreach to the community.

"We are already doing this," she said. "We've combined our guidance and volunteer committees into a parent outreach committee to design outreach programs. We want to move the outreach opportunities out of the school building and go to community centers and libraries."

"After students leave elementary school, a type of disconnection develops. In the elementary schools, parents are really involved and know what their children are learning in school. When they get to middle school, this changes.

"Adolescents need their space and tend to start pushing their parents away. Our PTA does a wonderful job in trying to keep the parents informed. But overall, there is a disconnection," Hurbanis said.

The support that the Brooklyn Park community has given the school has impressed Hurbanis.

"Members of the community help and take care of others. Wherever there is a need, people reach out. It's really gratifying. All I have to do is mention something and it gets done. At other places, things have to be solicited. But not here. There is a real sense of human concern in the community that I haven't seen everywhere else," she said.

"That's one of the reasons that when people come here, they see such a sense of pride. The students sense that they are part of something, that folks here care."

Association to meet

Brooklyn Heights Improvement Association will meet at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Brooklyn Park Library, 1. E. 11th Ave. All residents are urged to attend.

Information: 410-636-9611.

Welcome to Brooklyn?

Belle Grove Road is one of the main thoroughfares through Brooklyn Park. It takes people on a short trip from Linthicum, and past the proud community of Pumphrey to the Baltimore line.

Imagine our surprise when we came upon a new billboard on Belle Grove Road that reads "Welcome to Brooklyn, smoking stops here."

Brooklyn? Brooklyn is our neighbor that is north of the city line. And although being close to the city and all of its cultural and business activities is good for Brooklyn Park, we keep finding it necessary to clarify that we are a part of Anne Arundel County. So I called Kevin Kempske, vice president of GKV Communications, who manages the placement of the billboards for the state's anti-smoking campaign, to ask how such a mistake could be made.

"We used a very elaborate system of maps to make sure that the correct billboards were placed in the correct communities. Not that mistakes can't be made," he said.

He promised to look into the matter and get back to me.

True to his word, Kempske called that next day and agreed that a mistake had been made. He said the billboard will be corrected to read "Welcome to Brooklyn Park."

I could hardly believe it. Someone has finally taken notice of Brooklyn Park's need for an identity of its own. Look for the new billboard soon, and thank Kempske for his quick response to help rectify a long-standing problem for Brooklyn Parkers.

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