January Newsbriefs

Jan. 26, 2006, midnight | By Adam Yalowitz | 15 years, 8 months ago

New magnet program to open in MCPS

Poolesville will join the Science, Mathematics and Computer Science Magnet Program at Blair and the International Baccalaureate Program at Richard Montgomery next fall to become one of three highly rigorous instructional programs in Montgomery County, according to MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast.

Weast announced in November that Poolesville will revise its current Global Ecology Magnet Program into one that models both the Magnet and the Communication Arts Program at Blair. Opening a new magnet program would enable more students to have a chance to participate in another competitive program with a curriculum based on Blair's. According to Director of Global Ecology Studies Program Billie Bradshaw, Weast has mandated that next year's upcounty students can only apply to Poolesville's magnet and downcounty students can only apply to Blair's magnet. Students from the entire county will still be allowed to apply to the IB program at Richard Montgomery.

General Assembly may let school boards levy taxes

The Maryland General Assembly may consider a plan that would enable local school boards to levy taxes in order to raise teacher pensions, according to The Gazette. State Delegate Sheila Hixson (D-District 20), the chair of the State House Ways and Means Committee, said the proposal may anger county governments, which currently control local taxation powers. The plan would resemble existing systems in other states, said Hixson. However, State Senator Patrick Hogan (D District 39), who serves on the Joint Committee on Pensions and the Budget and Taxation Committee, expressed doubt that the bill would pass and said it may not even be proposed.

Blair teacher charged with animal cruelty

Spanish teacher Maria Yordan-Torres was arrested for animal cruelty on Thursday, Jan. 19 and was held on $15,000 bond. She was released the next day after posting bond, according to a Montgomery County Police Department press release.

Yordan-Torres was charged with "unnecessarily failing to provide the animal with nutritious food in sufficient quantity, necessary veterinary care, proper drink, air, space, shelter, or protection from the weather" and 11 counts of "inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal," according to the report. The report stated that Animal Services officers obtained a search warrant and transported 28 dogs to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter. Many of the dogs were underfed, and some required shaving due to damaged coats. The dogs have been groomed and given medical treatment and are available for adoption at the shelter.

Verdict released in MCPS stabbing incident

A Sherwood junior was found guilty of fatally stabbing Rockville freshman Kanisha Neal in an incident that occurred after a football game at Blake on Sept. 23, according to The Gazette. A Montgomery County judge stated that the Sherwood student stabbed Neal during a fistfight after the game. The Sherwood student was sentenced on Jan. 11 to remain in state custody until she turns 21.

Silver Spring skate park plans aided by Tony Hawk

Plans to build a skate park in downtown Silver Spring are being assisted by the Tony Hawk Foundation, a California-based organization that aims to help build skate parks across the country, according to The Gazette. The foundation recently contacted County Executive Doug Duncan and Councilman Tom Perez, urging them to build a skate park in downtown Silver Spring. If the county decides to construct the skate park, it could apply for a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation to help with the park's funding.

Field conditions remain poor

The condition of Blair's football field has not improved despite partial re-sodding of the middle of the field by the Montgomery County Park and Planning Commission in the fall of 2004, according to athletic director Dale Miller. The middle of the field is currently a compacted, dry area of dirt that has to be re-grated and redone, according to Miller. Blair's athletic department has discussed replacing the field with Astroturf to eliminate the problem of dry, compacted dirt.

Blair student actors perform for charity

The Pine Players, a student-run acting group, held a fundraising gala on Dec. 16 at the Silver Spring stage in the Woodmoor Shopping Center. The gala was held in order to raise money for a new stage, sets, costumes, props and lighting. Pine Players donates its proceeds to Bread for the City, a charity food kitchen in Washington, D.C. "We're realizing we need a base of funds to continue putting on performances to benefit Bread for the City," explained junior Michael Novello, the director of a recent Pine Players production.

Newsbriefs compiled by Adam Yalowitz with additional reporting by Alexis Egan, Bridget Egan, Varun Gulati, Eve Gleichman, Meaghan Mallari, Payal Patnaik and Natasha Prados.

Guidance Corner

Resource counselor Marcia Johnson reminds students that registration for the 2006-2007 school year is coming soon. Visit mcpscourses.org to see what courses are being offered next year. Johnson also encourages interested students to begin filling out their applications for the technology programs at Thomas Edison.

Important Dates

• Jan. 28 - SAT I and SAT II subject tests administered
• Feb. 2 - Report cards distributed
• Feb. 10 - Magnet Arts Night, 7:30 p.m., auditorium
• Feb. 20 - Holiday; Presidents' Day
• Feb. 27 - Early release day, grading and planning


• Twelve Blair seniors were selected as semifinalists in the 65th annual Intel Science Talent Search. Blair tied for the most semifinalists in the country with Ward Melville High School in New York. The 12 semifinalists from Blair are: Alexander Alm, Pria Anand, Kiran Bhat, Clair Briggs, Lu Chen, Debbie Cheng, Shwetadwip Chowdhury, Greg Howard, June Hu, Minh Huynh-Le, Andy Jiang and Chelsea Zhang. This year's 300 semifinalists were chosen from 1,558 entrants representing 486 high schools. Each semifinalist will be awarded $1,000, and a matching amount will be donated to Blair. On Jan. 25, 40 finalists will be selected to attend the Intel Science Talent Institute from March 9-14 in Washington, D.C., where they will compete for $530,000 in scholarship money.
• Silver Chips staffer Alex Abels received first place in the American Medical Association's "Shedding Light on Alcohol" contest for her article, "Teens play to lose with booze," which was published in the Nov. 10 issue of Silver Chips.
• Blair's Poms squad won third place in Division Two at the Green and Gold Pompom Competition hosted by Damascus and Seneca Valley at Damascus on Jan. 7.

Adam Yalowitz. Adam Yalowitz is just silly. You may find him asking you how much sleep you got last night and then smirking when you say "five hours," because he's always slept less, no matter what. When he does sleep, he dreams of Barack Obama, Tastee Diner … More »

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