March 17, 2005, midnight | By Ravi Umarji | 15 years, 10 months ago

Group demands stricter emissions standards

The Maryland Public Interest Research Group (MaryPIRG) held a press conference at Blair on Feb. 14 to encourage Maryland to adopt more stringent vehicle emission standards. MaryPIRG released the statement at Blair because of the significant effects that the new standards could have on the area: Due to the school's location, students at Blair are subject to the emissions of nearly half a million cars that pass the school each day. "We have some of the worst air quality in the nation," said MaryPIRG director Brad Heavner. "In five of the past six years, Maryland has been among the top 10 states in worst air pollution."

The release detailed the predicted results of implementing emissions standards similar to those of California.

Maryland State Delegate Bill Bronrott, Senator Sharon Grosfeld, Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal and other environmentalist groups attended the press conference.

Blair teacher nominated for six Wammies

Magnet computer science teacher Karen Collins was recently nominated for six 2004 Washington Area Grammys (Wammies) for her solo and group country music performances. Although she did not win any awards, Collins received nominations in the categories of Vocalist, Recording, Album of the Year, Debut Recording and Record Design for her solo album, "Backroads and Bayous," in addition to a Duo/Group nomination for her country group, Blue Moon Cowgirls. The 19th annual Wammies, sponsored by the Washington Area Music Association, were held on Feb. 7 at the Strathmore Music Center.

MCPS receives national honors

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Education recognized MCPS in January as a leader in the area of emergency and crisis preparedness, according to the MCPS Bulletin. MCPS was one of only three school systems in the nation to place in the "Best" category in a report initiated by the America Preparedness Campaign, which evaluated the abilities of the country's 20 largest school systems to respond effectively to a terrorist incident.

MCPS was placed in the "Best" category for having a comprehensive emergency plan dealing with terrorist threats, along with records of regular drills and communication with parents.

MCPS also was named a "Gold Medal" school system for the 10th consecutive year by Expansion Management Magazine for having well-prepared high school graduates ready to work in the business world and quality schools in which business employees can enroll their children, according to the Bulletin. MCPS was judged against the other 2,800 school systems nationwide with over 3,300 students and was one of five school systems to win the award.

Board of Education approves budget

The Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously adopted the $1.7 billion Fiscal Year 2006 budget on Feb. 8. The budget includes investments to reduce class sizes, expand full-day kindergarten to more schools, enhance special education and increase technology in classrooms. The budget increased by 6.8 percent (or $109.5 million) from last year's budget. The Montgomery County Council will review the adopted budget on May 19.

Math department offers more classes for re-takes

The math department significantly increased the number of first-semester classes that it will re-offer this spring for students who failed a class last semester, a change that has created scheduling difficulties several weeks into the new semester.

Last year, Blair only offered one section of Algebra 2A during the second semester to allow students who failed to take the class again and complete Algebra 2B in Night School or Summer School. This semester, however, the math department introduced six additional math sections: two sections of Algebra 2A, two sections of double-period Geometry A, one section of single-period Geometry A and one section of Precalculus A. The change is expected to significantly help students who failed during first semester, said math Resource teacher Rochelle Sherman.

Assemblies promote recycling and conservation

In the first educational opportunity for students as part of the newly established recycling education program, assemblies were held in the auditorium on Feb. 23 to encourage freshmen to recycle around Blair. MCPS Recycling Coordinator Ana Carbajal spoke at each assembly. Freshmen will continue to learn about recycling in their Connections classes. The program started at the beginning of second semester.

Newsbriefs compiled by Ravi Umarji. Additional reporting by Caitlin Garlow, Samir Paul, Danny Scheer and Ekta Taneja


•Seniors Daniel Aisen, Randy Li and Eric Ma and freshman Zhi-ya Hu won the Maryland High School Chess Championship for the fourth straight year, narrowly defeating Northwest High School on Jan. 30.
•Nine of the 18 MCPS candidates for the United States Presidential Scholar Awards are Blair students. Seniors Koyel Bhattacharyya, Martino Choi, Patrick Detzner, Sherri Geng, Kendra Leigh, Eric Ma, Min Wu and Lida You were selected for the academic component of the awards, and senior Rebecca Sugar was selected for the art component. Nationwide, 2,600 students were selected as candidates based on their SAT and ACT scores.
•Sophomore Tony Burnetti placed first in the 2005 National Capital Area Brain Bee on Feb. 8, a competition that tests students on their knowledge of neuroscience. Burnetti won $250 and will compete in the International Brain Bee on March 18 and 19.
•Sophomore Jeffrey Tseng was named a semifinalist in the American Dreams-Campbell Soup essay contest on Jan. 17. He was one of 100 students nationwide to be selected from a pool of 43,000 students who sent in essays to the contest, which mirrors a contest on the NBC television show, "American Dreams."


•March 11 — Final AP Registration deadline
•March 11-12 — Blair's spring musical, "Once Upon a
Mattress," runs, 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium
•March 15 — Spring Instrumental Concert, 7 p.m.

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