November Newsbriefs

Nov. 10, 2005, midnight | By Adam Yalowitz | 18 years, 3 months ago

Silver International organizes relief effort
Silver International, Blair's international student publication, is raising money for a school in Pakistan affected by the Oct. 8 earthquake. Silver International formed a partnership with Modernages Public School in Pakistan and was waiting to hear from students at the school when the earthquake occurred.

In a message to Silver International advisor Joseph Bellino, Sumeera Wahid, an English teacher at Modernages Public School, described the earthquake's devastating impact. "Mass graves of unknown nameless people are a common sight in a city that was so cheerful just 12 days back," wrote Wahid. "Our hearts have turned to stone and tears have vanished from our eyes. The dawn of uncertainty has emerged and seemingly there is no end to it." After receiving Wahid's message, Bellino's students decided to donate money originally raised to pay for printing Silver International to relief efforts. So far, they have raised $670 from pizza sales and direct donations, according to Bellino.

Board of Education discusses academic ineligibility
The Board of Education discussed possible revisions to the MCPS policy on academic eligibility standards for extracurricular activities on Oct. 24, according to MCPS. The Blair PTSA proposed that students have a provisional eligibility period to raise their grades while remaining on athletic teams and other extracurricular activities. The Blair PTSA noted that involvement in extracurricular activities motivated students to achieve academically. A work group composed of coaches, activity sponsors, principals, students and parents met several times during the 2004-2005 school year to review the MCPS eligibility standards. The group recommended that the minimum 2.0 GPA remain the standard for students who wish to participate in after-school activities. The Board will hear public comments from the community before reaching a decision.

Weast requests $1.7 billion for school construction
Superintendent Jerry Weast's new six-year plan for school construction includes the creation of one new high school and six new elementary schools, according to The Gazette. This proposal would be a $239 million increase from the previous MCPS six-year construction plan. By building more schools, Weast hopes to decrease the number of students currently taking classes in portables. This year, almost 17,000 students are taking classes in 719 portables. Weast's plan must be approved by the Board of Education before being sent to the County Council for final approval.

Funding promised for new civic building
The County Council will allocate funding for the construction of a new civic building in downtown Silver Spring as promised by County Executive Doug Duncan. The plans for the building were altered because of budget shortfalls. The county originally allotted $12 million for the civic building, but an additional $5.3 million was needed because of construction costs, according to The Gazette. Duncan's pledge came in response to complaints from community residents who wanted the civic building constructed as planned. The building will include a pavilion, ice rink and room for community meetings.

Duncan formalizes gubernatorial campaign
County Executive Doug Duncan formally announced his candidacy for governor of Maryland on Oct. 20 at his mother's home in Rockville. Duncan will face Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in the Democratic primary next September. The winner will challenge incumbent Republican Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.

In the six days following his announcement, Duncan visited every county in Maryland to make his campaign official. Duncan placed education, safety, the environment and the economy as his top priorities. "I know we can do better, but we must think bigger," Duncan wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "Join me in putting education first, making our streets safer, our environment cleaner and in creating high-paying jobs with good benefits for every Marylander."

Blair publications win awards
Silver Chips received the Marylander Award, an award given to the best high-school newspaper in the state, from the Maryland Scholastic Press Association (MSPA) at its annual convention held Oct. 29 at the University of Maryland. Chips staffers won over 40 awards for their articles, including 10 first-place stories. Silver Chips was also named the best high-school newspaper in Maryland by Towson University and won seven awards for individual articles on Oct. 29. Blair 2005 graduate Olivia Bevacqua and senior Sara Pierce received first and third places, respectively, for their articles "A different kind of boy" and "Playing through the pain for athletic gain," in the Children's National Medical Center's 18th annual Student Journalists' Health Writing Contest on Aug. 2. Seniors Pria Anand and Katherine Duncan and 2005 graduate Karima Tawfik received honorable mentions.
Silver Quill, Blair's literary magazine, recently earned a gold circle from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a gold medal from the MSPA and first place with special merit from the American Scholastic Press Association. Senior Christopher Consolino and 2005 graduate Phyllis Xu received first place from the MSPA for Silver Quill's cover design.

Newsbriefs compiled by Adam Yalowitz with additional reporting by Eve Gleichman, Jordan Goldstein, Zahra Gordon and Meaghan Mallari.

Guidance Corner
Resource counselor Marcia Johnson reminds seniors to turn in their transcript requests at least one month, 20 school days, before the admissions deadline.

Important Dates:
•Nov. 10 - Report cards distributed
•Nov. 11-12 - Fall Play: "Twelfth Night," 7:30 p.m., Auditorium
•Nov. 17 - Late ACT December registration deadline
•Nov. 18 - Fall Choral Coffeehouse, 7 p.m., SAC
•Nov. 24-25 - No school for students and teachers; Thanksgiving
•Dec. 3 - SAT I and II administered
•Dec. 10 - ACT administered

•Blair had 81 commended students in the National Merit Program and 316 AP scholars. Blair also had 21 finalists and 42 students who became semifinalists or received honorable mention in the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Program.
•Seniors Jessica Bermudez, Roxana Marquez, Rachel Martin and Marisa Ventimiglia qualified to become National Hispanic Scholars.
•Seniors Natasha Coleman, Sebastian Johnson and Sayoh Mansaray were named semifinalists in the National Achievement Scholarship Program, an award given to outstanding black high school seniors. Twenty-two seniors in MCPS were recognized as scholarship semifinalists.
•Seniors Lu Chen, Debbie Cheng and Chelsea Zhang were announced as Maryland semifinalists in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology. They were selected to move onto the regional competition.
•The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County presented four Blair students with Mark Curtis Awards on Oct. 27. The winners from Blair this year were senior Kamilia Butler-Peres and juniors Karla Berberich, Terence McPherson and Danielle Peck. The award is the only honor that recognizes MCPS students for achievement in the humanities.

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