Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Senior cadets honored at eighth annual JROTC Military Ball

Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Hartfield, an Air Force ROTC instructor at North Point High School, presents certificates of achievement to North Point seniors at the Charles County Public Schools eighth annual Joint Service Military Ball held Dec. 5 at North Point. The annual event highlights students enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC) program.
Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Hartfield, an Air Force ROTC instructor at North Point High School, presents certificates of achievement to North Point seniors at the Charles County Public Schools eighth annual Joint Service Military Ball held Dec. 5 at North Point. The annual event highlights students enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC) program.

The Charles County Public Schools Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC) program provides student cadets with learning opportunities that are deeply rooted in military traditions. These traditions range from participating in the Color Guard and drill meets to serving as leaders in their school communities. For the 170 senior cadets enrolled in the program at Charles County’s seven high schools, the Joint Services Military Ball is a tradition held annually to honor and celebrate their participation in JROTC.

This year’s ball was held Dec. 5 at North Point High School, and is the eighth annual event coordinated by the school system. As part of the ball, cadets participate in a variety of ceremonial military traditions including the Presentation of Colors by the Joint JROTC Color Guard, a toast to honor military personnel, leaders and ball guests, and the selection of a military court. Senior cadets are also presented with certificates of participation from their program instructors to honor their JROTC commitment.

Maurice J. McDonough High School senior cadet Jacob Leapley served as the master of ceremony and was assisted by La Plata High School senior cadet Jadalynn Haia, who served as the mistress of ceremony. Guests were welcomed by Board of Education Chairman Roberta S. Wise. The toast portion of the ball featured references to the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, JROTC instructors and to all cadets in attendance. Following the toasts, a celebratory dinner was held and senior cadets were called on to the floor by high school to receive their certificates. After certificates were presented to all cadets, students and guests participated in two other military ball traditions: cake cutting and the presentation of the military court.

The military court consists of a king and queen who are selected from students who have participated in their school’s JROTC program each year in during their high school career. North Point senior Damarcus Coleman was this year’s king, and Katelyn Barnes from La Plata was named queen for the 2014 ball.

The JROTC program is available at all seven county high schools, and teaches students skills, values and good citizenship to the community. Participation in JROTC also provides advanced rank opportunities for students who plan to enter the military after high school. JROTC programs were first introduced in Charles County Public Schools in 1998 at Henry E. Lackey High School. Former longtime Board of Education member Col. Donald M. Wade, who passed away earlier this year, was instrumental in launching the program for Charles County students. During this year’s event, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Hill announced that future military balls coordinated by the school system would now be named in Wade’s honor.

Both the programs at Lackey and North Point high schools represent the Air Force; the programs at McDonough and Stone represent the Army; La Plata, as well as Westlake High School, features a JROTC program that represents the Navy; and the program at St. Charles represents the Marine Corps. More than 850 students are enrolled in county JROTC programs this school year. These students also participate in a county drill meet, held annually, and co-curricular activities such as Color Guards, Armed and Unarmed drill teams, Armed and Unarmed exhibition drill teams, academic and field competitions.

High school students selected to participate in honors program

Five Charles County Public high school students were selected to participate in the Congress of Future Medical Leaders held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14-16. The honors-only program is sponsored by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists and is available for high school students interested in pursuing careers as physicians or in medical research fields.

The students chosen to participate include Jasmyne McDuffie, senior, North Point High School; Elizabeth Pritchett, sophomore, Thomas Stone High School; Catherine Shingleton, senior, Maurice J. McDonough High School; Teriencio Solano, senior, Westlake High School; and Rainey Southworth, senior, Stone.

These students were selected to represent their respective high schools in the program based on their academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve in the field of medicine. During the Congress, attendees participated in learning sessions on medical research with Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners; received advice from deans from top medical schools about what they can expect if they attend medical school; and learned about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology.

The goal of the event is to inspire and motivate students to create a plan that will enable them to pursue their goals towards pursuing a career in the medial field. McDuffie is enrolled in several Advanced Placement (AP) courses at North Point and plans to study forensic pathology after she graduates. Pritchett is a student in the biomedical sciences program at Stone and plans to study an area in the medical field after she graduates. Shingleton is interested in pursuing a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related field and is in the process of applying to several colleges and universities.

Solano plans to study computer engineering and is in the process of applying to his top six preferred colleges and universities. Southworth is enrolled in several AP courses at Stone and plans to study marine science after she graduates. She hopes to attend the University of South Carolina or the University of North Carolina.

The National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists offers free services and programs to students who plan to pursue a career in medical science. Future programs planned for the coming year include opportunities for students to be mentored by physicians and medical students, and communication for parents and students on college acceptance and finances, skills acquisition, internships and career guidance.

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Judge reminds students of social media perils during Law Academy

Howard County District Court Judge Pamila Brown, left, speaks with Thomas Stone High School students about the law, justice and freedom of speech in a cyber-age during a Civics and Law Academy held Dec. 2 at the school. More than 120 students participated in the event.
Howard County District Court Judge Pamila Brown, left, speaks with Thomas Stone High School students about the law, justice and freedom of speech in a cyber-age during a Civics and Law Academy held Dec. 2 at the school. More than 120 students participated in the event.

If a student teacher posts a drunken party picture on Facebook and a parent complains to the principal, should the teacher be removed from the classroom?

Thomas Stone High School students participating in a Civics and Law Academy on Tuesday, Dec. 2 unanimously voted no, but then had to defend their decision to Judge Pamila Brown, a Howard County District Court Judge. The judge was part of an educational panel of state and local judges and attorneys who volunteered to lead students in discussion about Constitutional rights, the law and justice and free speech. Brown and two local attorneys led a Law in Cyber-age seminar and guided students through a 45-minute conversation about free speech, its possible consequences and the privacy of social media.

Those suggestive photos you post on social media today, Brown told the students, could reappear when you are 38 and ruin your career. “You may think you are sharing it with the love of your life today, but that love may share it with others tomorrow. It never goes away,” Brown said. She cited a case of a 28-year-old television anchorwoman who was fired after spring break pictures taken when she was 21 surfaced. She had signed a contract with a morals clause, and the station was within its rights to dismiss her, Brown said.

The judge also talked about the 18-year-old man who was charged with possessing child pornography when a nude photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend was found on his phone. “He is forever and a day registered as a sex offender,” Brown said. She advised students to use the great-grandmother rule to navigate safely on social media. “Is this a picture or text you would want her to see? If not, don’t post or send it,” she said.

Brown and her Charles County colleagues said they want to make sure students think about Civics, get engaged in their society and think about social media traps that could have far-reaching impact on their lives.

The Maryland Judiciary, the Maryland Bar Association and the Citizenship Law-Related Education Program for the Schools of Maryland sponsor the Maryland Civics and Law Academy. It is designed to promote public understanding of the courts and justice and to engage high school students in learning about the law and society. The purpose is to further prepare young people to be positive, proactive participants in democracy. Charles County was the 14th county to host the academy through a partnership with the Charles County Bar Association and Charles County Public Schools. Allison Heurich, president of the Charles County Bar Association, said she hopes the local association can replicate the program at another high school next year.

Andrew Hill, a Stone sophomore, said he learned more about what to not post on social media. Hill said he is already careful with his online profile, but after attending the seminar, “I’ll make sure I am even more careful.”

Nearly 120 students attended the seminar and selected two sessions, which included Rights and Responsibilities, Law and Justice, Free Speech, School Speech and Protected Speech, Power and Empowerment and Law in a Cyber-age.

Superintendent on White House computer science panel

Superintendent Kimberly Hill helped the White House kick off Computer Science Education Week today as a participant on an education panel.

“Charles County Public Schools is all in when it comes to computer science instruction,” Hill told a White House audience while explaining the success of Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) partnership with CCPS launched a multi-year partnership with in January that infuses computer science concepts into curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through 12. While more than 60 school districts across the nation have formed partnerships, CCPS is one of a few that offers computer science to all students in all grades.

Hill joined senior White House administration officials as well as other superintendents as part of the White House Computer Science Education Week Kickoff event. She sat on a panel of six, including other education and industry officials and narrated by Hadi Partovi, co-founder of Panelists focused on a strong national commitment to expanding computer science education. Hill talked about Charles County’s ability to condense a five-year computer science implementation plan to one year after joining with, which helped train teachers and provided curriculum. Access to computer science is available to every student in every CCPS school, Hill said.

Science and Technology Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology John Holdren encouraged schools to provide the foundation that changes curiosity into skills that help propel our students from the middle to the top of international rankings in science and math.

That foundation, Hill said, can begin as early as age 4. Early exposure, she said, provides skill development, and most four-year olds are able to recognize logic and understand multi-step directions. “Why not bring them in and expose all of our kids,” Hill said, adding that starting at a young age helps level the playing field, especially among girls and other underrepresented groups.

In a video presentation, President Obama said becoming a computer scientist is not as scary as it sounds. “Don’t just consume things, create things,” the President said. “We are counting on you, America’s young people, to keep us on the cutting edge.”

This week, CCPS is celebrating Computer Science Week with special programs and participation in the Hour of Code, a one-hour introduction to computer science. Tutorials can be found on the website at

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