Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

In Focus News Briefs

-- North Point High School is hosting two open houses for Charles County students interested in applying for science, technology and industry (STI) programs for the 2015-16 school year. The open houses will be held Tuesday, Oct. 21 and Wednesday, Nov. 19, both starting at 6:30 p.m. Parents and students who are residents of Charles County and are interested in applying to one of North Point’s 17 STI programs are encouraged to attend. Call 301-753-1759 for more information.

-- Several Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students were invited to attend the annual Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) Maryland Leadership Seminar at Mount St. Mary’s University earlier this year. The four-day seminar brings together student leaders to interact with distinguished leaders in the business, government and educational arenas to discuss present and future issues. Participating students were Justin Deniston, Westlake High School; Mikayla Foskey, St. Charles High School; Brooke Homan, La Plata High School; Nicholas Leverich, Maurice J. McDonough High School; Joshua Lewis, La Plata; Jasmine Mitchell, North Point High School; Hunter Stempin, McDonough; and Zachary Will, Henry E. Lackey High School. The goal is to provide a forum for HOBY student ambassadors to learn about the democratic process while understanding their leadership potential. Participants are sophomores and are nominated to attend by their principals or advisors. HOBY Maryland is the local, state-level affiliate of Hugh O'Brian Youth International, which is one of the country’s top youth leadership development organizations. Visit for more information.

-- The James E. Richmond Science Center is hosting elementary school spirit nights in which members of a specified school community can take advantage of special opportunities. Attendees have access to discounted ticket prices, a double feature movie of their choice (selected by audience), discovery activities, door prizes and more. The following school spirit nights are scheduled and will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. They are: Oct. 14-15, Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School; Mary B. Neal Elementary School, Oct. 28 and Oct. 30; William A. Diggs Elementary School, Nov. 12-13; Berry Elementary School, Nov. 3, Nov. 18 and Nov. 20; Arthur Middleton Elementary School, Dec. 9 and Dec. 11; and Berry, Dec. 18. Contact the Science Center at 301-934-7464 or email for more information on special events.

Somers teacher is Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year

The Maryland Council for Social Studies, Inc. (MDCSS) recently named Milton M. Somers Middle School teacher Allen Hopkins as the 2014 Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year. He was nominated for the award for his exemplary leadership in social studies education and for his passion for teaching history. Nominees are recognized for their work in social studies at the middle- or high-school levels, and exhibit professional qualities while working with students, staff and the community.

Hopkins has been teaching social studies at Somers for the past 12 years and credits his recognition to his coworkers and students. “I am tremendously honored to receive the award but owe my success to the terrific administrators, teachers, and most importantly the students of Milton Somers. The administration always has my back, the teachers here inspire me, and the students make my job a whole lot of fun each and every day,” he said.

Hopkins is the social studies department chair and eighth-grade team leader at Somers. He creates lessons that are exciting and engaging for students that teach them how to use several resources to learn about history. The enthusiasm Hopkins demonstrates while teaching creates student interest in history because of his ability to make subject matters more alive and relevant to his classes. His nomination was coordinated by Jack Tuttle, content specialist in social studies for Charles County Public Schools, and Elaine Tubb, a government resource teacher. In their nomination statement, Tuttle and Tubb describe Hopkins as a dedicated professional and role model for other teachers.

“Mr. Hopkins is an exemplary classroom teacher, as well as a school and district instructional leader for social studies. His professionalism includes thoughtful and respectful interactions with students and fellow teachers. Teachers frequently seek instructional advice from him or visit his classroom to observe techniques. Whether he is delivering a lesson in his classroom, organizing an extracurricular activity, or serving as the eighth-grade team or social studies department leader, Mr. Hopkins always demonstrates a high level of instructional proficiency and professionalism, and is truly dedicated to social studies and helping all students achieve,” according to the statement.

In addition to serving as department chair and team leader, Hopkins sponsors the National Junior Honor Society and is a member of the school improvement team and the school-based student learning objectives (SLO) pilot implementation group. He has been instrumental in the implementation of new literacy standards in social studies for students and provided teacher training and professional development to several peer groups. Hopkins also focuses on his own professional development by participating in events such as the We the People Bill of Rights weekend seminar and the Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute.

He will be honored with the award at the MDCSS conference Oct. 17. Hopkins has a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Frostburg State University, and a master’s degree in history from American Public University. For more information about the MDCSS, visit

Parks students create outdoor learning experience

Restoring natural habitats is dirty work, but J.C. Parks Elementary School students know someone has to do it. Students and staff in every class from kindergarten to fifth grade recently went outside for 30 minutes and dug in to create an outdoor learning classroom habitat. On Oct. 8 and 9, volunteers helped students dig holes, cut the root balls off each plant and put each plant in the ground. Students added compost, soil and water to help each plant flourish. This project is the second and final phase to a grant Parks received four years ago.

In 2011, Parks received $100,000 from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for Education in Nature, a project to create outdoor learning areas within restored natural habitats. The first phase of the grant was used to restore and cleanup the wetlands outside their building. The rest of the grant is being used on an outdoor classroom that includes benches, a paved walkway to the outdoor classroom lined with trees, plants indigenous to Maryland and concrete tables for students to use during classroom activities. A variety of learning opportunities are incorporated into the design of each accessible, sustainable and environmentally friendly space. Everyone at Parks benefits from and uses the outdoor space for class assignments and projects.

Parks Principal Thadine Wright says she is proud of what has been accomplished and is grateful for the support her school has received from the community, students and staff. “Our staff at Parks is amazing. Every teacher has jumped right in to help and be a part of this experience,” Wright said.

“One of the great things about this project is that every single student has participated in one way or another. From prekindergarten to fifth grade, students have shown great motivation and excitement towards this opportunity. I think it is wonderful that as the students learn and grow, they can watch their plants grow as well,” she said.

Throughout this four-year experience, Parks has been visited by elected officials, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, community members and businesses all ready and willing to help. “It has been a team effort and I cannot thank each and every volunteer and hard-working individual for making this possible and for being the difference,” Wright added.

The projects from the Lowe’s grant are expected to be complete by the end of this school year. For more information on the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for Education in Nature grant, visit

Download new CCPS App, join CNS for text message alerts

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) just made receiving school system news, emergency closings and delay information a lot easier. CCPS has launched a mobile App that puts school system information in one easy to use location. Called CCPS On the Go (OTG), the App makes it easy for parents, students, teachers and community members to access information while on the go, from the device of their choice.

App users can enjoy custom feeds to the CCPS calendar, news, contacts, CCPS Television, transportation, My Payments Plus, meal menus and more. The news feed provides personalized, on-demand access to news and alerts for parents, students, staff and community members. Additionally, parents and students can now easily access their Blackboard/Edline accounts and their personalized activity feeds, grades and calendars.

The App is a free download through the Apple iTunes and Google Play App stores. To download the App:

On your iPhone or other Apple device (iPad, iMac)

-- Launch the App Store on your device.

-- Use the search function and type in CCPS or Charles County Public Schools. A four-color CCPS icon followed by the initials CCPS OTG will appear. Click on the word free to initiate the install process. Your device may prompt you for your Apple iTunes account information in order to verify the App download. Click install.

On your Android or Samsung device

-- Go to the Google Play Store and search for CCPS. Look for the four-square CCPS icon and select install.

Once the App installation is complete, your device will ask you to turn off or allow push notifications. Push notifications require an active Wi-Fi or cellular connection and firewalls and proxy servers may affect your ability to receive notifications. CCPS will only push important notifications like emergency alerts, school closures or early releases. Check the settings tab on your cell phone or portable device to get push notifications.

Once your App is installed, press the three bars to the left of the CCPS icon for a drop down menu of available information. The App is free; however, standard data rates through cell phone carriers apply. Visit for more App information.

CCPS is also using an updated notification system this school year that allows anyone in the community to sign up for free email and/or text message notification when schools are closed, delayed or closing early due to inclement weather. The Charles County Citizen Notification System (CNS) is a free service that allows community members to receive timely notifications about events and activities throughout the county. Participation with CNS is voluntary, and users must subscribe to receive email and/or text message notifications. Standard text message rates through cell phone carriers apply.

CNS is being offered through a partnership with the Charles County Government, which recently replaced the system to provide enhanced communications. The text message feature was removed from the old system more than a year ago. As of Oct. 20, all CNS notifications will be delivered from the new system.

Registrations from the old system will not be transferred. Parents, staff and community members who were originally signed up for CCPS notifications through CNS will need to register for the new system. Text messages from CCPS will only be sent from CNS when the school schedule changes due to inclement weather or in other crisis situations.

The CNS service is in addition to the standard school system notifications for closings or delays. CCPS will continue to provide closing and delay information on its 24-hour information line, 301-934-7410/301-932-6656, on the school system website at, through Twitter and television and radio stations listed on page 10 of the 2014-15 Parent Handbook/Calendar. Closing information will also be delivered to CCPS App users with enabled push notifications.

Participation with CNS is voluntary, and users must subscribe to receive email and/or text message notification. Standard text message rates through cell phone carriers apply. Visit and click on the CNS logo featured at the bottom of the home page to access the new system. Select the register for a new account link to subscribe.

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