Nov 2002 Newsbriefs

Nov. 8, 2002, midnight | By Han Hu | 18 years, 7 months ago

Compiled by Han Hu with additional reporting by Laura Blythe-Goodman, Branden Buehler and Jessica Stamler.

MCPS puts limited freeze on school spending
Due to concerns about the economic outlook and possible shortfalls in the state budget, MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast implemented a partial freeze on MCPS spending that took effect Oct 1. The freeze affects the hiring of school-based supporting services staff such as instructional assistants, and all new contracts and equipment purchases must be authorized in advance. However, the hiring of teachers, administrators, bus drivers, building service personnel, school-based secretaries and security staff is exempt from the freeze.

Blair lacks full-time registrar
Blair's former registrar, Yen Lam, is on extended medical leave, and, according to Principal Phillip Gainous, cannot be replaced because of the MCPS freeze on school spending. Gainous filed an appeal to MCPS for hiring a full-time registrar. Meanwhile, the school's three part-time registrars are working overtime to meet deadlines for transcripts, said Resource Counselor Karen Hunt.

Increase in AP scholars
Blair has 182 Advanced Placement (AP) scholars for the 2001-2002 school year, almost five times last year's total. For the 2002 AP exams, Blair had 58 Scholars, 51 Scholars with Honor, 68 Scholars with Distinction and five National Scholars (see Honors, below). The College Board bases the awards on AP exam scores and the number of exams taken. According to Resource Counselor Karen Hunt, of the 1,137 AP tests taken by Blair students in 2002, 92 percent had scores of three or higher out of a maximum score of five.

Wacke leaves Blair
Security Guard Harry Wacke has left Blair in order to seek employment elsewhere, according to Security Team Leader Edward Reddick. Reddick said that the opening left by Wacke's voluntary departure will be advertised according to MCPS procedures and that the security staff will remember Wacke fondly. "As a person and as a worker, we'll miss him," Reddick said. Wacke, a 20-year Air Force veteran who trained as a police cadet and tutored academically disadvantaged students, came to Blair in 1999 after working briefly at Eastern Middle School as a security guard.

Record number of Code Blues
Blair implemented an unprecedented eight Code Blue alerts between Oct 3 and 24, when MCPS ordered all schools to institute Code Blue procedures following the sniper shootings. MCPS had never before ordered all schools to go to Code Blue, according to Blair Crisis Planning Team Chairman Mark Curran, as previously, individual schools decided whether or not to implement Code Blue alerts. Due to Superintendent Jerry Weast's directive for all students to remain indoors, fire drills were in effect suspended until the Code Blue status was lifted, said Curran.

Construction at Blair completed
During the past few weeks, two minor construction projects were completed in the courtyard and on the hill near the gym. The courtyard construction work involved filling a mulch area with cement, and near the gym, workers added a sidewalk and stairs to a hill that physical education classes regularly use to access the fields and courts. According to Building Services Worker Reggie Tobin, the mulch area had drainage problems and flooded regularly, and the hill was a safety hazard when muddy.

Editors quoted in national newspaper
Comments from two editors-in-chief of Silver Chips appeared in an Oct 23 USA Today article, "Sniper threat takes toll on kids, schools." Senior Jessica Stamler, co-editor-in-chief of Silver Chips, and senior Kevin Chang, co-editor-in-chief of Silver Chips Online, were both quoted in the article. Chang and Silver Chips Managing News Editor Jared Sagoff, a senior, also made statements to the national Scripps Howard News Service, a wire service that sends Washington area news to 400 newspapers nationwide.

• Silver Quill, Blair's literary magazine, won the 2002 American Scholastic Press Association's Most Outstanding High School Literary-Art Magazine and First Place with Special Merit awards.
• Seniors Christina Feng and Aleks Sverdlov were named semifinalists in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology, which recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in science and mathematics. Maryland had four out of 288 semifinalists nationwide.
• Senior Aleks Sverdlov and graduates Jennifer Caswell, Louise Giam, Nancy Ku and Tiffany Lin were named AP National Scholars by the College Board for scoring four or higher on eight or more AP exams.
• Senior Annie Peirce and juniors Vital Akimana and Maya Kosok were named Mark Curtis Scholars by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. The award recognizes students with outstanding achievements in the humanities.
• Blair's It's Academic! team placed fourth out of 24 schools in Langley High School's Mindbender tournament on Oct 5 and will participate in Blake High School's competition on Nov 12. The winning team consisted of seniors Matthew Baron and Jared Sagoff and juniors Ning Bao, Jonathan Magin, and Minghui Yang.
• Blair's Chess Team won the first annual Metropolitan Area Chess League Kickoff Tournament on Nov 2. The team of seniors Stuart Berg and Jared Sagoff, juniors Ezra Berch and Todd Bryant and sophomore Daniel Aisen placed first out of 19 schools.

• Blair's fall play, Charley's Aunt, will run from Nov 14 to 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. Tickets are $4 for students and senior citizens and $6 for adults.
• A financial aid workshop and mini-college fair will be held Nov 17 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium. Information on filling out FAFSA forms will be presented, and translators in Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese will be available.
• Students for Global Responsibility (SGR) will hold its annual Sleep-Out for the Homeless on Nov 29, where Blazers will spend the night outside to raise money for Shepherd's Table, a homeless shelter.

Guidance Resource Counselor Karen Hunt advises
• Seniors to finalize college applications, fill out FAFSA forms for federal aid and request transcripts as soon as possible because of the registrar's 20-day turnaround time
• Juniors to plan on taking the SAT or ACT during second semester (visit for SAT test dates and schedules)
• Sophomores and freshmen to think about their interests, decide what courses to take and get acquainted with their counselors

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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 »

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