When a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in August shook the ground beneath Bradbury Heights Elementary School, neighborhood parents did not anticipate their daily routine for getting to and from the school would be shaken up, too.
But things will be back to normal for the 2012-13 school year as students will return to the Capitol Heights school, Principal Denise Lynch wrote in a June 13 email to The Gazette. After Bradbury Heights sustained damage in August, the students were relocated five miles away to Temple Hills’ G. Gardner Shugart Middle School.
Bradbury Heights had cracks in walls throughout the building resulting in $90,000 worth of damages, said Prince George’s County Schools spokesman Briant Coleman.
Shugart was one of eight schools that closed because of a Prince George’s County school consolidation plan in 2009 that leveled out enrollment while saving the county school system $5.9 million, according to the county school system.
Lynch wrote that she was grateful that the school system let them remain at the school through the end of the school year to avoid any more “upheaval,” and that they could transition to a “clean and comfortable building” at Shugart. She praised school system staff for considerations such as providing equipment for a disabled student to ascend a stairwell.
“We are also appreciative of the decision of the superintendent to allow us to remain during the year as opposed to moving us back during the school year,” Lynch wrote.
She said the school community “rose to the occasion” during a “challenging year” — such as parents sending their children to bus stops with later arrival times rather than the ones assigned to them and bus crowding, said Bradbury Heights PTO president Jay Howard-Brock of Capitol Heights, mother of rising third-grader Chevard Howard-Brock.
Howard-Brock said some parents sent their children to stops with later arrival times because they needed more time to get their children ready for the school day.
She said she tried to arrange a meeting at Shugart to discuss the crowding, but said in general it was hard to get parents to come out to PTO meetings during the 2011-12 school year because the distance between their homes and Shugart was an issue with some parents who don’t have cars.
Howard-Brock said PTO meeting attendance numbers dropped to fewer than 10 people, compared to between 10 and 20 prior to the earthquake.
“If you can get to all the different places you can get to, then the school shouldn’t have been a challenge,” Howard-Brock said. “We have to stop making a lot of excuses because those excuses are not going to help our children.”
However, Howard-Brock acknowledged the effort by the school administration to make the transition to the new school easier.
She praised Assistant Principal Melvin Washington for helping her organize and find sponsors for PTO events and Lynch for starting “Lynch’s Ladies,” a group for the school’s highest academic achieving girls that awarded them with treats like movie viewings and “honor beads” to wear in the school.
“Those are the things we want to have going on to build the students’ morale, especially when they’re in a different area they’re unfamiliar with,” Howard-Brock said.