Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

J.C. Parks named 2015 Green Ribbon School

J.C. Parks Elementary School was named one of only two Maryland schools selected for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2015 Green Ribbon Schools (GRS) Award. The honors were announced April 22 by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In announcing the national award recipients, Duncan said the selected schools demonstrate strong examples of innovative learning and civic engagement.

“These honorees are compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments,” Duncan said. “The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and deserve the spotlight for embodying strong examples of innovative learning and engagement.”

Parks was chosen by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) as a national nominee. MSDE also nominated Northwest High School in Montgomery County for a school-based award and Howard County Public Schools for the district-level award. Both Northwest and Howard County Public Schools received the national award. A total of 81 schools, school districts, colleges and universities received a 2015 national award.

To be considered for the award, Parks staff had to complete and submit a lengthy application that documented how the school performed in three award areas of consideration: reducing environmental impacts and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, civic skills and green career pathways.

Parks’ science teacher, Deanna Wheeler, coordinated the application for the school. Applications for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools were evaluated by a committee comprised of staff from state and national government agencies, state and regional environmental agencies, and private businesses.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the U.S. Department of Education has coordinated the GRS program, and Maryland schools have received national honors annually. A complete listing of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School award recipients is posted at

Elementary, middle school students compete in Robotics Challenge

Students from Charles County Public elementary and middle schools competed in the 2015 College of Southern Maryland Junior (LEGO) Division robotics challenge held Saturday, April 11, at the La Plata campus. The annual event is part of CSM’s Institute of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (iSTEM), which provides programs to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

Eight Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams earned awards at the event. Fifty teams from schools in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, as well as local private schools, competed in the event. This year’s competition was titled “Nature’s Fury,” and required teams to research natural disasters and build robots to perform in a simulation designed to mock disaster assistance and clean-up efforts.

The Fury Fighters team from T.C. Martin Elementary School earned the top overall award in the Project category among competing elementary schools. This award is presented to the team whose robot achieves the best score during the project presentation portion of the event. Team members are fourth graders Jackson Bowler, Zion Chae, Jonathan Rand Crawford and Robbie Shelton, and fifth graders Zachary Anderson, Joseph Cowans, Josiah Franklin, Cole Harkness, Timmy O’Brien and Andon Tufts Russo. Team coaches are Michelle Reeves, a science teacher at Martin, Kara Decker, Martin fifth-grade teacher, and Ginger Rogers, a parent volunteer.

The Seahawks team from Milton M. Somers Middle School earned the top overall award in the Robot Design category among competing middle schools. Teams are selected for this award based on innovative work, team interviews and how their robots perform. Team members include Somers sixth graders James Goodwin, Wesley Hutcherson, Noah Kanter, Nauman Khan, Christopher Peterson, Casey Pham and Emily Smith, seventh graders Benjamin Ader and Nathan Daetwyler and eighth graders Sophia Khan and Nishil Patel. David Wood, a mathematics teacher at Somers, is the coach of the team.

The Mattawoman Robotics team from Mattawoman Middle School received the top overall award among middle school teams in the Robot Performance category. This award is presented to the team whose robot achieves the best score during the robot game portion of the challenge. Team members include Kimari Jackson, a sixth grader, seventh graders Keysha Scott and Romont Tardy, and eighth graders Christian Frazier, Erica Rigoroso, Lyndsay Rivers, Megan Rogers, Ahmad Thompson, Tyler Ulmschneider and Alicia Walker. John Paine, a science teacher at Mattawoman, is the team coach.

Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School’s Team Damage Control received the Inspiration Award, which honors a team that displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit throughout the challenge. Team members include fourth graders Will Edwards, Joey Hastings and Madison Koontz, and fifth graders Kyra Brown, Makayla Curtin, Emma Davie, Ryan Kluh and Chase Miller. Team coaches are Corey Specht, Mitchell fourth-grade teacher, and Margaret Grove, science teacher at Mitchell.

The 1C3BREAKERS team from Theodore G. Davis Middle School received the Teamwork award among competing teams. This award recognizes a team that is able to work together to accomplish goals and demonstrates strong communication, effective problem solving and excellent time management. Members of the team include Davis sixth graders Ella Gerstman and Eric Maher, and eighth graders Amara Gammon, Daniel Gonzales, Jonathan Heng, Abigail Semarge, Michael Stone, Brian Thomas and Marcus Williams. Joanne Shelak, science teacher at Davis, is the team coach.

The Fast and Furious Dragons team from Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School earned an award in the Gracious Professionalism category. This award recognizes a team whose members demonstrate respect to one another, and to other teams throughout the challenge. Team members include fourth graders James Barrow, John Fowler and Khalis Walls, and fifth graders Talaya Hayden, Charlize Mills and Yeabsira Temesgen. Team coaches are Paul Dunlevy, science teacher at Mudd, and Jason Peer, school counselor at Mudd.

The Panthers team from Piccowaxen Middle School received the Mechanical Design award among competing teams. This award is presented to the team that designs and develops a mechanically sound robot that is efficient, durable and highly capable of performing challenge missions. Students on the Panthers team include seventh graders Cian McCabe and Micah Stillwell, and eighth graders Aristia McLaughlin, Alyssa Simpson and Macie Summers. Brian Colaizzi, a science teacher at Piccowaxen, is the team coach.

The Techno-fins team from Mary H. Matula Elementary School earned an award in the Research category of the challenge. Teams receive this award for presenting an in-depth explanation and solution to the challenge project, which includes a team presentation to a panel of judges. Team members include fourth graders Kyle Blanton, Zoe Hakim, Nathan Michael, Megan Pham, and T.J. Taylor, and fifth graders Anaya Barnes, Diallo Barnes and Andrew Garcia. Coach of the team is Christina Caron, a learning resource teacher at Matula.

For more information about the challenge, visit the College of Southern Maryland’s website at

Career and technology students advance to national competition

Twenty-seven North Point High School students advance to the national Skills USA competition after winning first place gold medals at the state event held April 18. They will represent Charles County Public Schools at the national event scheduled for June 22-26 in Louisville.

The first-place winners are

-- Sarah Alvarez, senior, Advertising Design;

-- Estefany Garcia and Jordan Johnson, juniors, American Spirit/Interview;

-- Jerry Delph, senior, Cabinetmaking;

-- Suha Ansari, Mercedes Clark and Amy Zheng, juniors, Career Pathways – Health Science;

-- Leah Pennington and Alyssa Raqueno, juniors, Community Service;

-- Patricia Atkinson and Dylan McCabe, juniors, and Stephanie McCarter, senior, Crime Scene Investigation;

-- Nicholas Wiegand, senior, Electrical Construction Wiring;

-- Salma Ansari, Jordan Aportadera, Natalie Arimah and Noemi Arquero, seniors, Health Knowledge Bowl;

-- Christopher Johnson and Reginald Johnson, seniors, Mobile Robotic Technology;

-- Erin Green and Sarah Jones, seniors, Outstanding Chapter – High School;

-- Skye Corbin, sophomore, James Adkins, Luke Gibson and Dennis Whitley IV, juniors, and Joel Rogers, senior, Quiz Bowl; and

-- Daphine Henderson, junior, Welding Sculpture.

North Point junior Justin Arter will attend the national conference as a Skills USA Maryland State Officer, and senior Alyssa Gonnella will compete in the Early Childhood Education event as the state second-place winner because the first-place winner is unable to attend the national competition.

The following students also placed at the state event:

-- Brandon Cundiff, Juan Lopez and Roman Morgan, juniors, second place, North Point, Career Pathways – Architecture and Construction;

-- Kylie Green, Will Remik and Sean Sutherland, seniors, second place, North Point, Community Service;

-- William Sieger, junior, and Brittany Jenkins and Miriam Requeno, seniors, second place, North Point, Crime Scene Investigation;

-- Angelique Ogunsemowo, junior, second place, North Point, Customer Service;

-- Alyssa Gonnella, senior, second place, North Point, Early Childhood Education;

-- Jessica Green, senior, second place, North Point, Extemporaneous Speaking;

-- Maria Cirillo, senior, second place, North Point, Job Interview;

-- Maya Kidane, senior, second place, North Point, Medical Assisting;

-- Jenna Williams, junior, second place, North Point, Medical Math;

-- Kaitlyn Freeland, junior, second place, North Point, Medical Terminology;

-- Shawna McCarter and Jabria Miles, sophomores, and Shanda Braxton, junior, third place, North Point, Crime Scene Investigation;

-- Mychael Bell, junior, third place, North Point, Culinary Arts;

-- Cheyenne Scott, junior, third place, North Point, Internetworking;

-- Jasmine Joyce Jones, senior, third place, North Point, Job Skill Demonstration;

-- Olivia Holmes-Chesley, Devin Heilmeier and Sydney Moore, seniors, third place, North Point, Career Pathways – Law, Public Safety and Security;

-- Jeanne Dela Cruz, junior, fifth place, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, Pin Design;

-- Madelyn Donaldson, senior, fifth place, Stethem, Photography;

-- Noah O’Neil, senior, fifth place, Stethem, HVAC;

-- Shelby Burgess, Jasmine Burks and Jasmond Gray, juniors, and Michael Fraley, senior, Stethem, sixth place, Broadcast News Production;

-- Janay Douglas, senior, Stethem, sixth place, Customer Service; and

-- Jakob McGhee-Garner, senior, Stethem, eighth place, HVAC.

Skills USA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure a skilled work force. The organization serves more than 300,000 high school and college students, as well as professional members, nationwide. Skills USA competitions showcase the talents of career and technology students. The students compete locally and continue through the state and national levels. The philosophy of the competition is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to train students for employer needs.

Skills USA provides experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. The organization focuses on quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, lifelong education and pride in the dignity of work. For more information on the Skills USA program, visit

Students to help dedicate St. Charles High School

School system, county and state officials will join St. Charles High School students May 15 to officially dedicate Charles County’s seventh high school, which opened in August. During the same ceremony, the school system will also dedicate the pool in memory of former Board Member Donald M. Wade, who is credited with securing the pool for St. Charles. The 6:30 p.m. dedication is open to the public. Students and staff will provide tours of the school following the ceremony.

St. Charles opened for students on Aug. 25 for the 2014-15 school year. Some construction continues on the pool, which is expected to be ready by mid-May and open for use this summer and next school year. St. Charles is one of 36 schools in the Charles County Public Schools system. Built to house 1,600 students, St. Charles opened this year with grades 9, 10 and 11 and will add a senior class next school year.

The St. Charles pool is in the final stages of construction and includes six competition-length lanes, spectator seating for 200 and separate locker rooms to make the pool available after hours for community use. The pool was cut from the original St. Charles building plans; however, midway through the high school construction project Col. Wade successfully asked the Charles County Commissioners to restore funding for the pool. The Board of Education last year voted to name the pool the Donald M. Wade Aquatics Center in memory of Wade. He passed away June 1, 2014, shortly before the end of his fourth term. Wade family members and Board members will cut the ribbon for the new pool during the May 15 school dedication ceremony.

Built as a green school, St. Charles is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standard as developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The building design incorporates energy management features, including natural lighting, water efficient landscaping, and a geothermal heating and cooling system. The 288,000-square foot school contains 72 teaching stations and is built vertically, stacking academic instructional areas and classrooms on four floors.

St. Charles also houses the James E. Richmond Science Center, which is open to the public and used by students system-wide. A state-of-the-art digital classroom and Science on a Sphere are main features of the center.

In addition to the pool, St. Charles athletic features include a football stadium with an eight-lane track; bleacher seating for 1,500 home/500 visitors; 14 fields including football, baseball, softball, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse; and eight tennis courts.

Featured Sponsor

The MIL Corporation
Find your new career today!

Reader Comments

Featured Sponsor

The Calvert County Times
Free color newspaper on local newsstands and online every Thursday.

Need Legal Representation?

Five So. Maryland locations to serve you. Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, DUI Defense.

Follow SoMd HL News