October 2003 Newsbriefs

Oct. 2, 2003, midnight | By Han Hu | 17 years, 8 months ago


New Connections class for freshmen
Starting this year, most freshmen will be required to take Connections, a two-semester course aimed at helping students adjust to high school. At the end of the year, each current freshman will choose one of Blair's five academies to attend and will be part of the first class to graduate with an Academy diploma. Students in the Magnet and CAP do not have to take the class because their respective curriculums already cover the material taught in Connections, according to Blair Academy Coordinator Susan Ragan. Students in ESOL levels one and two are also exempt from taking the course. Sophomore Shanda Tolliver, who took the pilot version of Connections last year, credits the course and the support of her Connections teacher with helping her turn herself around academically. "When I first came to Blair, I did not take school seriously, but now I do," she said. Students in the eighth period section of Connections are currently without school-sponsored transportation, as they are prohibited from riding Magnet or CAP buses.

SAT scores for black students increase
The average SAT scores for black students at Blair have increased this year, reflecting a regional and national trend, while scores for other ethnic groups at Blair have decreased, according to the 2003 Office of Shared Accountability SAT report. SAT scores for blacks at Blair rose 19 points, the highest increase in three years. The scores of black students increased by 11 points within MCPS and by six points nationwide. Despite this year's gain in scores for black students, the Blair median SAT score dropped 15 points for Asians, 27 points for whites and 48 points for Latinos. The overall SAT average for Blair also dropped seven points from 1135 in 2002 to 1128 in 2003, but Blair remained seventh out of the 23 MCPS high schools in rankings based on overall SAT scores.

Budget cuts impact teacher training program
Staff training received a $3.1 million funding reduction this year, approved last June, impacting the Professional Growth System, MCPS' four-year-old initiative to improve the quality of teaching. According to an informal Silver Chips survey of 78 Blair teachers conducted on Sept 17, 62 percent of teachers at Blair believe teacher training courses help them teach more effectively. The cut was part of an ongoing effort to trim the MCPS budget in support of new curriculum standards. The most visible effect of the budget cuts at Blair was the reduction of staff development substitute teachers. While last year Blair received funding for 3.1 staff development subs per day, this year the funding only allows for 2.4.

Numerous errors in student planbooks
The 2003-2004 Blair planbook issued to students contained numerous errors that the printing company failed to correct over the summer, according to Assistant Principal Pamela Shetley. Shetley said the administration had asked the Squibb Printing Company, which publishes the planbook, to correct the errors back in August, when the company submitted a first draft of the planbooks to Blair. As compensation for their mistakes, the Squibb Company sent Blair a set of stickers for students to make corrections to the student planbook calendar errors and gave the school a discounted rate on the price of every booklet. For a list of the handbook errors identified thus far, please visit Silver Chips Online at http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/inside.php?sid=2033

Silver Chips staffers awarded journalism prizes
The National Scholastic Press Association honored two of Blair's 2003 graduates with first and second awards. Stephen Wertheim, former editor-in-chief of Silver Chips, received first place in the nation in the editorial category, and Andrew Kenney received second place in the sports picture category.
Han Hu won first place, Amina Baird and Simona Danilovska won third place and Audrey Tornblom won an honorable mention in the Children's National Medical Center's Student Journalist's Health Writing Contest.
To read Wertheim's editorial about the achievement gap, please visit Silver Chips Online at silverchips.mbhs.edu/inside.php?sid=1428

• Blair had 54 National Merit semifinalists. Seniors Neil Agarwal, Melis Anahtar, Easha Anand, Ning Bao, Noel Berman, Julia Bertaut, Aditi Bhaskar, Christian Brown, Leven Browne, Todd Bryant, Michael Burnim, Michael Chen, Maria Choi, Lauren Cohen, Patrick Conrad, Nicholas Conway, Bob Darneille, Sareen Engineer, Katherine Epstein, Joanna Esch, Elizabeth Finn, Jesse Galef, James Gao, Jason Gordon, Abigail Graber, Han Hu, Robert Hunter, Daozhong Jin, Terry Li, Kevin Liu, Jonathan Magin, Greg Maker, John McManigle, Julia Pass, Rebecca Pass, Michael Price, Philip Ries, Kai Rikhye, Anna Schoenfelder, Jessica Shang, John Shen, Valerie Shen, Josh Stern, Nick Stone, Gordon Su, Andrew Tourtellot, Emily Tsui, Anran Wang, Xinlei Wang, Sam Wen, Kenneth Yan, Minghui Yang, Bailey Zhang and Jonathon Zytnick were chosen based on their PSAT/NSMQT scores.
• Twenty-five Blazers were finalists for the Maryland Higher Education Commission's Distinguished Scholar Award and won $3,000 scholarships to any Marland college. Seniors Neil Agarwal, Easha Anand, Ning Bao, Ezra Berch, Todd Bryant, Michael Burnim, Michael Campbell, Michael Chen, Lauren Cohen, James Gao, Max Gibiansky, Han Hu, Robert Hunter, David Kim, John McManigle, Rebecca Pass, Michael Price, Jessica Shang, Valerie Shen, Gordon Su, Andrew Tourtellot, Emily Tsui and Xinlei Wang were recognized for academic excellence. Seniors Ivy Flores, David Kim and Jordan McCraw were finalists for their accomplishments in the fine arts.
• Blair's literary magazine, Silver Quill, was awarded a First Prize with Special Merit and named Outstanding High School Literary-Arts Magazine by the American Scholastic Press Association.
• Blair's marching band played on Oldies 100, as Band of the Week, on Sept 26.
• Senior Lauren DalBello won first place in The Maryland United for Peace and Justice Poetry Contest.

Resource Counselor Karen Hunt recommends that seniors start working on their college applications soon and that other students prepare for the PSATs. Some upcoming deadlines include:
• Oct 11 – SAT I and II administered
• Oct 21 – PSAT administered for juniors, sophomores and freshmen, and informational meeting for seniors will be held on planning for post-secondary school success
• Oct 31 – Registration deadline for Dec 6 SAT I and II
• Nov 7 – Registration deadline for Dec 13 ACT

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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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