December 2003 Newsbriefs

Dec. 18, 2003, midnight | By Samir Paul | 16 years, 11 months ago

DCC choice process in full swing
Eighth graders in the Downcounty Consortium (DCC) chose their top three choices for academies on Dec. 12. Despite criticism from some parents, school officials hope the DCC will enhance students' interests in what they are learning and help them investigate possible career paths, according to the DCC Program Overview.
Students in the DCC will be able to choose from 18 different academies amongst the five DCC high schools, Blair, Einstein, Kennedy, Northwood and Wheaton. The academies at Blair will be Entrepreneurship, Human Service Professions, International Studies, Media Literacy and Science, Math and Technology.
Though some school boundaries have changed, eighth graders will most likely receive their first choice for their academy if they are living in the school's zone, says International Studies Academy Coordinator Jody Zepp. Those who do not receive their first choice are eligible to participate in the second round of the choice process in March.

Class of 2009 to face HSA exit exams
The Maryland State Board of Education voted 9-2 on Dec. 3 to require high-school students, starting with the class of 2009, to pass all four High School Assessments (HSAs) before graduating and receiving a Maryland High School Diploma. The proposal includes provisions for five alternative diplomas, such as the Local High School Diploma for students who take and pass three HSAs and special diplomas for students who drop out of school but earn a General Equivalency Degree.
Making HSAs required for Maryland diplomas moves the state toward having a "stronger" high-school diploma, said State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick. But critics of the new diploma system said the exit exams may create a "dumping ground" for students who are unable to meet higher graduation standards, reported The Washington Post, and could adversely affect dropout rates, especially among poor and minority students.
The HSAs are generally freshman- and sophomore-level tests in algebra/data analysis, biology, English I and government. The proposal could be changed considerably after extensive discussion over the next several months, and the final version will come before the Maryland Board in May 2004.

New administrative committees added
Following the success of last year's three committees, the Blair administration formed five new committees to solicit input from staff on improving the school. But scheduling problems have allowed only five of the nine currently existing committees to meet. An email was sent out to all Blair staff on Nov. 10 announcing the addition of the new committees—Homework and Grading Policy, In-School Suspension, Parent Involvement, Ninth-Grade Focus and Transition Team—and asking staff members to choose one or more committees to join.
Teachers, as well as students, can start or join committees at any time during the school year, according to Staff Development Coordinator Suzanne Harvey, who hopes that all staff will find "a committee that matches their interest and expertise and will find a way to become part of the solution."
The administration originally planned to activate the committees on Sept. 19, but school cancellations caused by Hurricane Isabel prevented the master meeting from being held, Harvey said.

PTSA citrus sale successful
The PTSA received nearly 300 orders and totaled over $11,000 in its annual citrus sale, a substantial increase from last year's 245 orders and total gross of $9,500. The net profit will be approximately $5,600, according to PTSA Citrus Sale Chair Chris Simpson.

Pericles balances accounts
Blair's fall play, William Shakespeare's Pericles, grossed over $4,000 during its four performances last month, selling over 500 student tickets and about 350 adult tickets. Most of the money went to paying for production expenses, and the play is expected to break even, according to stage crew sponsor John Kaluta.

• The "It's Academic" team competed in the annual Knowledge Master Open on Dec. 2, finishing second in the world.
• Eight Blair students are among National Advanced Placement Scholars who scored an average grade of four or higher on eight or more Advanced Placement exams last year. Blair's national scholars are senior Easha Anand and graduates Edward Chan, Joshua Chang, Evan Karlik, Lisa Leung, Anatoly Preygel, Alex Sverdlov and Linda Xu.
• Senior Nicholas Stone was one of 627 students awarded the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Award in Writing.
• The University of Maryland Math Examination was administered to 2,032 students in Maryland and the District of Columbia on Oct. 22. Of the 230 students who qualified for the next level, 91 are Blair students. Senior John Shen, juniors Matt Jordan, Randy Li and Alex Mont, sophomore John Kim and freshmen Matt McCutchen and Brian Lawrence received perfect scores.
• Senior Julia Chiplis won an honorable mention in the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts competition.
• Senior Lilah Shreeve's film, Double Vision, was featured in the second annual film festival sponsored by Takoma Park Maryland Library and Columbia Union College.

• Blair's String Orchestra and Band ensembles will hold their Winter Concert on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free.
• The Thespians Club will perform two one-act plays, Competition Piece and Metamorphosis, on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium.
• The SGR Spectacular is rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 9 from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. in the SAC.

Samir Paul. <b>Samir Paul</b>, a Magnet senior, spent the better part of his junior year at Blair brooding over everyone's favorite high-school publication and wooing Room 165's menopausal printer. He prides himself in being <i>THE</i> largest member of Blair Cross Country and looks forward to one more … More »

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