Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Superintendent requests waiver; schools opening during spring break

Pending a decision by the state for a four-day waiver, Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is opening schools for students and teachers during the week of spring break, which is April 14-21, in order to make up for lost instructional time due to inclement weather. Schools will now open for regular days of instruction on April 14, 15, 16, and 17. Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill on March 10 has requested a four-day waiver from the Maryland State Board of Education. If the waiver is approved, spring break days will be restored.

Additionally, four two-hour early dismissal days have been changed to full days of school for students. Two-hour early dismissal days that are now full days of instruction are Wednesday, March 19; Friday, April 25; Wednesday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 21. The approval of a waiver does not affect these calendar changes. There will be a two-hour early dismissal on Tuesday, April 1 for report card preparation.

The school system has used nine inclement weather days this school year, of which only four are built into the calendar. Maryland law requires schools to operate 180 days for students each school year. The Board of Education adopts the school calendar in advance, and approved using spring break dates as inclement weather make-up days for the 2013-14 school year, if needed. The school system has already used Presidents Day to make up for one lost instructional day, leaving four days of time to make up.

In the Charles County Public Schools 2013-14 Parent Handbook/Calendar, schools were originally scheduled to be closed April 14-21 for spring break. Schools and offices will still be closed on Friday, April 18 and Monday, April 21. Waivers are generally granted in extreme cases and when school systems have made efforts to make up missed days.

Information regarding inclement weather make-up dates is published on the Charles County Public Schools website, , and on page 10 of the Charles County Public Schools 2013-14 Parent Handbook/Calendar. Schools were closed due to snow and ice storms on Dec. 10, Jan. 10, Jan. 21, Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 13, Feb. 14, March 3 and March 4. Delayed openings or early closings do not affect the use of inclement weather days.

Please make a note of the changes on your copy of the calendar. An updated copy is available on the CCPS website at .

Three-year-old program application changes for next school year

Charles County Public Schools is changing the application process for the three-year-old program. In addition to meeting guidelines established by the school system, parents will now need to schedule an appointment with school system staff to complete the application process for their child for the 2014-15 school year. Registration for the three-year-old program begins on Tuesday, April 22 and applications will be accepted by appointment only. Charles County Public Schools is no longer registering children in the three-year-old program on a first come, first serve basis.

Parents can schedule an appointment at their child’s zoned elementary school on or after April 22 to start the application process. Children must attend the appointment with their parent, and will participate in an observation and skill assessment. Additionally, completing the application process does not guarantee enrollment in the program. Children admitted to the three-year-old program must meet the following guidelines:

-- Reside in a Title I school zone;

-- Qualify for free- and reduced-price meals;

-- Demonstrate an academic need; and

-- Must be three-years-old on or before Sept. 1.

No appointments will be made before April 22. Contact the Charles County Public Schools Title I Office at 301-934-7408 with questions or for additional information. Parents can find out what school their address is zoned for by using the School Locator feature of the website at Contact the department of student services at 301-934-7326 if you need information about registering a child who is moving to the area.

County students compete in local Robotics Challenge

Teams from Indian Head and Dr. Thomas L. Higdon elementary schools, as well as Theodore G. Davis, Matthew Henson, Mattawoman and Piccowaxen middle schools, competed in the 2014 Save the Bay/Chemical Engineering Robotics Challenge held Feb. 22 at North Point High School. The event was sponsored by the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) and is part of the 2013-14 Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Technology Division (NSWC IHEOTD) In-School Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.

The event featured two levels of competition: one for fifth-grade teams, the Save the Bay challenge, and one for eighth-grade teams, the Chemical Engineering challenge. Awards are given in four categories: Robotics, Technical, Research and Overall. At the elementary-school level, two teams from Higdon won awards in the Save the Bay challenge.

The Fierce Fighting Five team won second place in the Robotics category. During the Robotics portion of the challenge, teams were required to complete seven challenges with their robots within three minutes. Members of the team are fifth graders Will Anderson, Caroline Edelen, Landon Jewell, Camden Sciascia and Ashton White. The team coach is Bradley Buzby, a fifth-grade teacher at Higdon.

Team U.S.S. Robots from Higdon won third place in the Technical category. In this category, students are required to perform a robotics task for the judges and are scored on their ability to execute the assigned task. Team members are fifth graders Bryan Banks, Ashton Blackwell, Jenna Burtch, Tessa Everett, Gavin Ganter and Bryce Lightbown. Buzby also coaches this team.

Three teams from Henson earned awards in the Chemical Engineering challenge. Team Mystery Inc. won second place in the Robotics category. During the robotics portion of the challenge, middle school teams were required to complete six challenges with their robots within three minutes. Team Mystery Inc. also shares second place in this category with two teams from St. Mary’s Bryantown. Members of the team are eighth graders Cortlend Davis, Amelia Dudley, Hannah Gates, Michael Hauser and Abbie Rooney.

Two Henson teams, Team Duracell and Team Leggo My Eggo, tied for third place in the Robotics category. Members of Team Duracell are eighth graders Phillip Aguilar, Joshua Carson, Marisa Edmonds, Laura Franch and Marcus Jackson. Team Leggo My Eggo includes eighth graders Larea Barrett, Noah Kidwell, Carrine King, Kele’ Mills and Natalie Warren. The coach of both teams is Melody Colebrook-Jones, a science teacher at Henson.

Two teams from Henson, Team Ask G2 and Team Duracell, won awards in the Technical category. Team Ask G2 won first place and includes eighth graders Aniya Daniel, Gabrielle Dickerson, Garrett Hayes, Shamere Shuler and Kauvon Smith. Colebrook-Jones also coaches this team. Team Duracell earned a third-place award in the Technical category.

During the event, teams were required to complete challenges with their robots on challenge boards representing the Chesapeake Bay and a chemical pilot plant. Students from St. Mary’s County Public Schools and area private schools also competed in the event.

The in-school STEM program was launched at the competing Charles County schools earlier this school year. Over a period of 16 weeks, engineers serve as mentors to help students work with robotics, engineering challenges and scientific investigations studying the Chesapeake Bay and chemical engineering. Teams learned to write computer programs using the RoboLab programming environment and built robots capable of performing up to eight different robotics challenges within a period of three minutes.

As part of the program, teams were also required to develop research projects related to either the Chesapeake Bay or a chemical process, which they will present to a panel of judges for awards in April. Once the research presentation portion of the program is complete, awards will be given to teams in the Research and Overall categories.

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