Newsbriefs compiled by Han Hu with additional reporting by Amanda Allen, KC Costanzo, Sreela Namboodiri and Annie Pierce
HSA requirements postponed
Deputy State Superintendent Richard Steinke said students may not be required to pass the Maryland High School Assessment (HSA) exams in order to graduate until the class of 2008. The state originally planned to make the HSAs a graduation requirement for the class of 2007. Steinke said at an Apr 26 public forum that Maryland Board of Education members are worried about the number of children who may fail the test and about determining a passing grade based on the results by the end of the summer. Board members will examine data from the past two years to determine the validity of the tests. Currently, high school students must take the HSAs but are not required to pass them. HSAs will eventually replace the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program exams.
Teachers to write Precalculus with Analysis exam
Precalculus with Analysis teachers will write their own exam this semester due to concerns over high failure rates on recent county-written math exams and Blair's inability to cover all necessary material in time for the final exam because of lost instructional time due to the number of snow days. Math teacher Paul Grossman, one of three Precalculus with Analysis teachers, cited several problems with the county exam. The main reason for not using the county exam is that the material covered on the exam does not correspond to that covered in class. According to Math Resource Teacher Barbara Hofman, poor study habits and a lack of correlation between passing the exam and passing the course are among the factors responsible for poor performance on semester exams. According to MCPS Mathematics Program Supervisor Leah Quinn, the county has a number of projects underway that will attempt to correct some of the problems with the county-written exams.
MCPS field trips suspension eased
After the national security level was lowered from orange to yellow, MCPS relaxed its suspension on school-sponsored field trips more than 75 miles from Montgomery County. The decision allowed Blair's Magnet sophomore class to attend their annual Wallops Island field trip and the computer team to plan to participate in the national American Computer Science League competition in Fullerton, California on May 24.
Blair server hacked, students locked out of accounts
An unauthorized user temporarily gained access to Blair's Internet server over spring break, forcing system operators to disable all BEN and binx accounts. The server, known as binx, was undamaged, but the hacker may have collected personal information. Junior John McManigle, a binx system operator, said the hackers were probably trying to gather passwords. All binx accounts were locked until students changed their passwords. According to McManigle, every program and configuration was hand-checked by the system operators, and all insecure binx functions such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP) have been disabled.
SGA candidate disqualified
Freshman Sebastian Johnson, one of two candidates running for Blair SGA President, was disqualified after reading an unapproved speech. Johnson's speech contained promises that were impossible to fulfill, such as the reinstatement of freak dancing and DIVA and break dancer performances at pep rallies, according to SGA Sponsor Rondai Ravilious. The speech also criticized the SGA for not representing the students in a competent manner. "He violated a rule that he was very much aware of," said Ravilious.
•Seniors Matthew Baron, Kristina Cammen, Joshua Chang, Kevin Chang, Evan Karlik, Lisa Leung and Anatoly Preygel received National Merit Scholarships in various fields of study.
•Junior Emily Tsui placed in the top 20 nationally in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad competition.
•Blair's It's Academic team and several other students won third place in the spring International Knowledge Master Open.
•Blair Media Assistant Susan Madden, Media Specialist Lisa Hack and student volunteers received an MCPS Educational Foundation grant for the Blair After Hours Program.
•Junior Janae Bosby won a first-place award in the Health Knowledge Bowl of the 30th annual Maryland State Skills USA-VICA Championship, a contest for career and technical students.
•Senior running back Jermaine Jack was named an alternate to the first annual Maryland Football Coaches Association East-West All-Star game.
•Two freshmen teams placed in the top two at the state Destination Imagination competition and will move on to the international round. The team of Abby Goldman, Sally Lanar, Tess Minnick, Jordy Goldstein and Sarah Janesko competed in the "video adventure" challenge, and the team of John Silberholz, Pratik Bhandari, Rohit Dewan, Yao Xu and Chelsea Zhang entered the "connecDID" challenge.
•Blair took the first eight places in the Montgomery County Envirothon competition. The team of juniors Easha Anand, Daozhong Jin, Rebecca Pass, Valerie Shen, Emily Tsui and Paula Wang won first place for the second year in a row and received $100 each.
•The Junior-Senior Prom will be held on Saturday, May 24 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda. Tickets are $40 per person.
•After Prom will take place on Sunday, May 25 from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The theme is "Catch a Wave…"
•Graduation rehearsal will be on May 30 at 8 a.m. in the auditorium. The rehearsal is mandatory for all seniors, who should bring their caps and gowns. The senior class picture will be taken at 10 a.m. in the main gym following the rehearsal.
Guidance Counselor Melba Battle's suggestions for rising seniors:
•Visit campuses this summer to determine what you are looking for in a college or university.
•Narrow your list of colleges based on such factors as size, academics and location.
•Apply to colleges with varying levels of admission standards.
Han Hu. Han Hu, a senior in Blair's Magnet program, is very excited to serve as Managing News Editor on the Silver Chips staff. Aside from Chips, he is also a member of Blair's mock trial team, where he enjoys delivering cases at the county courthouse before … More »