A team from Blair represented Montgomery County at the Maryland State Envirothon, held on June 23, 2005 at the Harford Glen Education Center in Bel Air, Maryland. The team of five sophomores placed 8th out of 17 teams at the event, with a total score of 438.67 out of 600 points.
The winner of this year's Maryland Envirothon was the team representing Queen Ann's County, which finished with 517.33 points. They will travel to Springfield, Missouri to compete at the National Envirothon July 18-24. Carroll County came in a close second with 512.83 points, followed by Harford County in third with 508.67.
A team of former Blair seniors, "Dead Last," comprised of Kevin Kahn, Renee Park, Sherri Geng, Randy Li and Eric Ma, the winners of the Montgomery County Envirothon, was unable to attend this year's Maryland Envirothon, and was replaced with a combination of two sophomore teams, one of which had placed third at the county level. The team participating in the state competition consisted of Jeff Guo, Hailey Lin, Christie Lin, author Lois Bangiolo, Vicky Yao and alternate Ben Li.
The Maryland Envirothon is an annual competition encompassing five areas of study about the environment: forestry, aquatics, wildlife, soils and a 5th issue, which, this year, was "Preserving the Cultural Landscape." The competition lasts for three days, allowing for training and preparation for the sixth area of competition, a presentation that combines elements from the five different topics.
It was the entire team's first year participating in Envirothon at any level, and because of its inexperience, the team of sophomores did not expect to maintain Montgomery County's two-year hold on first place.
"It's the first time…of course [they] will do better next year," said Magnet chemistry teacher Tran Pham, the team's advisor. However, Pham has not yet decided if he will continue to be the sponsor of Blair's Envirothon teams, due to the county's lack of enthusiasm for the program. "I don't know yet," he said. "Everything went down the tubes. No one is getting involved."
His remark stems from the decline in the number of schools participating in the Montgomery County Envirothon. This year, only two schools, Blair and Wootton, sent teams, as other schools such as Gaithersburg High School, who participated in past years, have lost their advisors.
Pham also believes that better training is necessary to continue with the Envirothon. "That's the key thing we need to change — more training," said Pham.
The team also agreed that more training was needed. "We could have been a little better prepared," said team member Jeff Guo. The team was provided additional training by the county after they had been chosen to go to the state competition, but in only three of the five areas. Still, the team does believe that they will have a better chance of winning next year, because of their participation at this year's state competition. "We'll have more experience," said team member Hailey Lin.
Lois Bangiolo. Lois Bangiolo was born on March 14, pi day, an auspicious date as she is now in the math-science magnet. In addition to writing for Silver Chips Online she runs track and is secretary of the MBHS Key Club. More »