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

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

La Plata team wins third place in tri-county Computer Bowl

The computer bowl team from La Plata High School won third place at the 2015 Southern Maryland Regional Computer Bowl held March 7 at North Point High School. As the third-place winners, the team received a school plaque and trophy, and each member received a $75 gift card.

The team competed among nine teams from high schools in Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties. Team members include students Cody McGinnis, senior; Reid Hancock, junior; Aaron Hipkins, sophomore; and Douglas Kalmus, freshman. The team coach is Richard Williams, a computer teacher at La Plata. Teams compete in two rounds of competition.

In the first round of the competition, students complete a written test about computer history, hardware and software. In the second round, teams of up to three or four students create computer programs to solve specific problems, using programming languages such as Java and Visual BASIC.

Each year, student teams in the tri-county area compete in the event. The competition was sponsored by SMECO, the College of Southern Maryland, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s County public schools. Judges for the competition were from Booz Allen Hamilton, the College of Southern Maryland and Naval Air Systems Command.

Mattawoman student is top speller at annual spelling bee

Craig Storm, a seventh-grade student at Mattawoman Middle School, earned the title of top speller at the Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) 37th annual Spelling Bee held Feb. 20 at John Hanson Middle School. Storm spelled the word “pernicious,” which means something that can cause great harm or damage, or is highly injurious or destructive, to earn first place. As the Charles County winner, Storm advances to the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled for May 24-30 in Washington D.C.

Nicholas Gallegos, a seventh grader at John Hanson Middle School, earned second place in the competition. Additionally, teams from each competing school are awarded points based on student performance during each round. The team from Mattawoman earned first place for their team performance. Along with Storm, team members are eighth grader NeKara Smith, and seventh graders Jordan Bellamy and Shania Williams. Mattawoman eighth grader Amaya Nelson is the team alternate. The team coach is Elesa Ansell, a language arts teacher at Mattawoman. As the first-place team winner, the Mattawoman team was awarded a special plaque to display in the school.

The bee was aired live on the CCPS website and is available for view here. Students from all Charles County public middle schools and county private schools are invited annually to participate in the event. The spelling bee is sponsored by CCPS, the College of Southern Maryland, the Maryland Independent, Chaney Enterprises and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO).

Three high school teams place at state bocce tournament

Three Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams placed among competing schools in their divisions at the Special Olympics Maryland 2015 Interscholastic Unified Indoor Bocce State High School Championship event held Feb. 11 at Hagerstown Community College. Teams from Henry E. Lackey, La Plata and Maurice J. McDonough high schools participated in the event, which was separated into four levels of competition – divisions one through four. Schools from Baltimore City, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Washington counties also competed at the event, and students from 32 schools participated.

Bocce is a sport played on a bocce court, or an area of play featuring a hard surface. The principle of the sport is to roll a bocce ball closest to a target ball, which is called a pallina. Teams earn points for how close their bocce balls roll or end near the pallina. The La Plata team earned a second-place award among teams competing in division one of the event. Team members are Nick Adriani, Adult Independence Program (AIP) student; Ciara Albrittain, senior; Kaitlin Branham, junior; Mai Dinh, junior; Marykate Dinneen, junior; Brandon Garner, AIP student; Danielle Murphy, senior; and Rebecca Stine, junior. The team coaches are William Boehm, a technology education teacher at La Plata, and Matthew Petricoin, a vision teacher at the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center.

The team from Lackey earned a fourth-place award in division two of the competition. Student members of the team include Shawn Edwards, freshman; Deontez Fleet, senior; Brenden Kelley, senior; Anthony Macri, freshman; Demetrius Richardson, senior; and Kendall Roberts, sophomore. The team coach is Evan Vahratian, a special education teacher at Lackey.

A team from McDonough earned a seventh-place award in division three of the event. Student members of the team are Madalyn Berres, junior; Savana Brindle, senior; Carolyn Burgess, senior; Marlexus Castillo, junior; Cameron Dew, junior; Elizabeth Kennedy, junior; Robert Mullins, AIP student; and Monica Park, senior. Coaches of the team are David Bradshaw and David Rooney, physical education teachers at McDonough.

All three of these teams competed at the state level after earning a first-place award in their division at a regional competition held earlier this month. Teams are split into divisions of competition according to criteria such as age, gender and physical ability levels to ensure that all participants have equal opportunities to participate and be recognized for being a part of a team. Unified sports teams are composed of a combination of students with and without abilities who train together and compete against other unified teams.

CCPS partnered with Special Olympics Maryland in 2008 to offer high school students of all abilities the opportunity to participate in sports programs. Participation in the CCPS Unified sports program has increased over the past several school years. For more information, visit the Special Olympics Maryland website at

Middle, high school teams compete in VEX Robotics Challenge

Twenty teams from 11 Charles County Public middle and high schools competed in the 2015 Southern Maryland VEX League Robotics Challenge held Feb. 7 at the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) La Plata campus. The challenge is split into two levels of competition – one for middle school teams, and one for high school teams. The VEX League is sponsored by CSM and its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) partners to support teams in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.

Eight Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams qualified to compete in the VEX Robotics Maryland State Championship. Teams that earn the Excellence, Tournament Champion, Tournament Finalist and Design awards at the regional level advance to the state event. The middle school state competition is Feb. 28 at Hereford Middle School in Baltimore County. The high school state competition is scheduled for March 8 at Sollers Point Technical High School, also located in Baltimore County.

The Electropanthers team from Piccowaxen Middle School received the Excellence award among competing middle school teams. This is the highest award a team can receive and recognizes overall team excellence in dedication, devotion, hard work and team work. The Excellence award is also given to the team that finishes first in the league rankings at the conclusion of all qualifying events. In the VEX League, participating teams play in 15 matches during three ranking sessions, of which the final session is held at the regional level.

Student members of the Electropanthers teams include seventh graders Ahryel McManhan and Cameron Miskell, and eighth graders Andrew Fan and Jarrett Mulloy. Team coaches are Sandra Chisholm, a technology teacher at Piccowaxen, and Joseph Fan, a Piccowaxen parent.

The Electropanthers team also earned the Tournament Champion award, in which they competed in an alliance with the Mechanical Madness team, also from Piccowaxen, and the Iron 6 team from General Smallwood Middle School. As the Tournament Champions at the middle school level, all three of these teams will compete at the state event. Members of the Mechanical Madness team include Piccowaxen seventh grader Kyle Shymansky, and sixth graders Will Anderson, Reece Leonard and Sydney Robertson. Chisholm and Fan also coach this team. The Iron 6 team includes Smallwood eighth graders Dylan Abell, Lavell Kenney and Alex Thompson. Team coach is Jeffrey Gruszecki, a technology teacher at Smallwood.

Based on how the challenge is structured, more than one team can be named Tournament Champion. This year’s challenge, titled “Skyrise,” was divided into qualifying rounds, team alliance selection rounds and elimination rounds in which teams maneuver their robots in a 12-foot by 12-foot square field. Teams work together in alliances to attain higher scores than their opponent alliance by programming their robot to build a 6-foot-tall vertical tower.

Two teams from John Hanson Middle School, the JHMS Gold team and the VEXCELLENCE team, earned the Tournament Finalist award. A team from Mattawoman Middle School, the SMSL Hackers, also earned the Tournament Finalist award as part of a team alliance. This award goes to the top two runner-up alliance teams, which also compete at the state level.

Members of the JHMS Gold team are Hanson eighth graders Collin Gamble, Mikayla Hall, Sean Huber and Hailey Stern. Hanson’s VEXCELLENCE team includes seventh graders Lizzie Daniel, Cody Flerlage, Chris Moreno and Christopher Rand-Crawford. Both Hanson teams are coached by Daniel Meltsner, a technology teacher at Hanson. Students on the Mattawoman team include seventh graders Jabari Johnson, Ricardo Santos and Susanna Wynne, and eighth grader Kaya Shepherd. Jeffrey Wester, an art teacher at Mattawoman, is the team coach.

At the high-school level, the Angle Warriors team from La Plata High School earned the Tournament Finalist award as part of an alliance with two teams from Calvert High School. As a Tournament Finalist team, they will compete at the state competition. Student members are seniors David Beaton, John Hungerford, Matthew McElhaney and Kyle Morgan; juniors Sarah Dawson and Carolyn Gillespie; and sophomore Tara Cecil. The team coach is Garrick Baker, a technology education teacher at La Plata.

Additionally, a team from St. Charles High School advances to the state high school competition after receiving the Design award at the regional event. The Design award is given to a team that demonstrates an organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management, and team organization. To be eligible for this award, teams must submit an engineering notebook to the judges for review.

Team members include freshman Hunter Donn, Francisco Monzon and Pio Samillano; sophomore Michael Bouyett; and juniors Jason Bowman, Rory Burke, Justin Robinson, Bobby Smith and Timothy Sprouse. The team coach is Ryan Novitski, a technology education teacher at St. Charles.

Teams from Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, and Maurice J. McDonough, North Point, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools also competed in the event. A total of 55 teams from middle and high schools in the tri-county area participated in the competition.

County students participate in winter chess tournament

Charles County Public Schools held their annual Winter Chess Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Thomas Stone High School. More than 100 students participated in the event, which is sponsored by the school system’s gifted education and instruction departments. The tournament is open to any student in grades kindergarten through 12.

The tournament follows a Swiss-style format in which each student plays four games. Students competed in five grade-level divisions and trophies were awarded to first- and second-place winners. All other students who placed received a medal. Felix Cummings served as the tournament director.

The following students placed in their division:

Grades kindergarten through second:

-- Timothy Martinez, first place, second grade, William B. Wade Elementary School;

-- Derek Gilroy, second place, second grade, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School;

-- Miles Davis, third place, second grade, William A. Diggs Elementary School;

-- Manav Soni, fourth place, second grade, Wade; and

-- Jacob Golder, fifth place, first grade, Wade.

Grades three and four:

-- Sameera Nageshwar, first place, third grade, Berry Elementary School;

-- Jonathan Rand-Crawford, second place, fourth grade, T.C. Martin Elementary School;

-- Mya Mahaffey, third place, fourth grade, Martin;

-- Matthew Sanchez, fourth place, fourth grade, Diggs;

-- Benjamin Moore, fifth place, fourth grade, Malcolm Elementary School;

-- Alan Sebastian, fifth place, third grade, Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School;

-- Freddie Jones, fifth place, third grade, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School;

-- Samidha Nageshwar, sixth place, third grade, Berry;

-- Nathan Dieffenderfer, seventh place, fourth grade, Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School; and

-- Benjamin Barker, eighth place, fourth grade, Martin.

Grades five and six:

-- Jacob Stern, first place, sixth grade, John Hanson Middle School;

-- Matthew Coccaro, second place, sixth grade, Hanson;

-- Isabella Cusack, third place, fifth grade, Mary H. Matula Elementary School;

-- Maci Mulloy, fourth place, fifth grade, Higdon;

-- Arya Forohar, fourth place, fifth grade, Matula;

-- Alyssa Gerhart, fifth place, sixth grade, Benjamin Stoddert Middle School;

-- Collin Jenkins, sixth place, sixth grade, Matthew Henson Middle School; and

-- Rodney Harrison, seventh place, fifth grade, Matula.

Grades seven and eight:

-- Payton Green, first place, seventh grade, Theodore G. Davis Middle School;

-- Carl Wachowski, second place, eighth grade, Stoddert; and

-- Ashton Gordon, third place, seventh grade, Milton M. Somers Middle School.

Grades nine through twelve:

-- Franklin Olmsted, first place, junior, Maurice J. McDonough High School; and

-- Alexander Booth, second place, freshman, North Point High School.

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