Over the years, it has become traditional for Ridgefield middle-school students to head into town on Friday afternoons to shop, eat and socialize with friends.
Learning how to socialize in less structured social situations is an important developmental step for them and, for the most part, shop-owners and townspeople have also enjoyed their energetic presence on Fridays.
Recently, however, there have been some complaints of shoplifting, destruction of property, jaywalking and a general lack of respect for others in town.
In an attempt to address both issues — the middle-schoolers’ need to socialize together, as well as the increases in disruptive behavior — Project Resilience, along with the Downtown Merchants Association and East Ridge Middle School, is initiating a new pilot program, Fridays-On-Main, beginning on Friday, Sept. 6 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Essentially, this program will give middle-schoolers a “code of conduct” to abide by that will encourage a greater sense of civic responsibility, as well as a place where they can leave their backpack in a secure place and meet their parents at pick-up time.
This program will run on alternate Fridays, through Thanksgiving (Sept. 6, 20, Oct. 4, 18, Nov. 1, 15).
Parents of middle-schoolers who are planning to be in town on these Fridays are encouraged to have their children:
- Walk into town and check-in at the Church Barn at St. Stephen’s Church — this is the small building directly behind the church (not to be confused with the “Barn”)
- At St. Stephen’s, each middle-schooler will sign in and receive a “valet” tag for their backpack and reminders of the code of conduct.
- Parents and middle-schoolers should plan to retrieve their backpack and meet for pick-up in the St. Stephen’s parking lot no later than 5 p.m.
- Parents should emphasize that students should take all valuables, such as cellphones, wallets, iPods and iPads with them. St. Stephen’s and Project Resilience assume no responsibility for lost, damaged or stolen items.
- In the event that a backpack that is left beyond 5 p.m., parents may go to the Ridgefield Police Department to retrieve it.
- Cookies or other treats will be given to each middle-schooler who checks-in.
In the event of severely inclement weather, cancellations of Fridays-on-Main will be announced on the Project Resilience Facebook page and re-scheduled for the next Friday.