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

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs


Board approves changes to 2015-16 school calendar

The Board of Education at their Tuesday meeting unanimously voted in favor of changes to the coming school year calendar. Adjustments to the 2015-16 calendar include changes to spring break, the addition of two inclement weather days at the end of the school year and the opening of schools for students and teachers on the Friday in October that coordinates with the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) convention. Additionally, two teacher in-service dates were moved.

The Board approved the following changes for the 2015-16 school year calendar.

-- Schools will be closed for students only on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12 for a teacher in-service day. Schools were originally scheduled to be closed for students only on Oct. 7.

-- Schools will be open for students and teachers on Friday, Oct. 16. Teachers interested in attending the MSEA Convention will be able to use administrative leave to participate in associated events.

-- Schools will be closed for students only on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, for a teacher in-service day and elementary school report card conferences. This was previously scheduled for Nov. 6, which is now a full day of school for students.

-- Spring break for students and teachers is March 24-28, 2016. Offices will be closed on Friday, March 25 and Monday, March 28.

-- Schools will be closed for students and teachers on Tuesday, April 26 for primary election day.

-- The last day of school for students with six inclement weather days built into the calendar is Thursday, June 16.

-- The last day of school for teachers with six inclement weather days built into the calendar is Friday, June 17.

-- Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 15, will be used as an additional inclement weather make-up date, if needed.

A proposed calendar for the coming school year was included on the April 14 Board meeting agenda due to a change in the 2016 primary election day. Last week, the Maryland legislature announced a change of primary election day from April 5, which aligned with the approved 2016 spring break, to April 26. Schools are closed for students on primary election day, causing Charles County Public Schools staff to readjust the calendar to add another attendance day for students. Maryland law requires schools to operate 180 days each school year and the Board generally approves the calendar two years in advance.

Additional adjustments to the 2015-16 calendar were presented to the Board to better provide instructional time for students and to address community concerns expressed in calendar surveys published by the school system. Charles County Public Schools annually posts a calendar survey on the school system website to solicit input from the community. Staff reviewed comments and input received from the calendar survey to make adjustments to minimalize disruption to the student schedule, and potential loss of instructional time due to inclement weather.

The deletion of school days in 2016 if they are not used will occur in the following order: June 16, June 15, June 14, June 13, June 10 and June 9. Days will not be added to spring break, allowing parents, teachers and the community to better plan for the approved time off.

A copy of the approved calendar is posted on the Charles County Public Schools website at http://www.ccboe.com/aboutus/calendar/201516ApprovedCalendar.pdf. The school system recently conducted a calendar survey for the 2016-17 school year. A summary of those results is posted on the CCPS website at http://www.ccboe.com/pr/school-system-provides-calendar-survey-results-summary.

School system provides calendar survey results summary

Charles County Public Schools recently published a web survey to solicit community input on the 2016-17 school year calendar. The survey was posted on the school system website, www.ccboe.com from March 23 through April 1 and nearly 5,000 responses were received. Each year, the Board of Education solicits input from students, staff, parents and the community on the calendar.

Calendars are generally approved two years in advance by the Board, which receives a calendar proposal as a meeting agenda item annually in the spring. The proposal is used to develop the survey and includes topics such as inclement weather days, early dismissal options and school holidays. The 2016-17 survey included eight-questions for input that included feedback on adding inclement weather days to the end of the school year; opening schools before or after Labor Day; adjusting two-hour early dismissals to two-hour delayed openings; and opening or closing schools on Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Election Day.

The following is a summary of results received, and includes data from 4,971 respondents, with more than half identifying themselves as parents. More than half of survey respondents, 66 percent, were in favor of adding inclement weather days on to the end of the school year. About 45 percent were in favor of using Presidents Day as a make-up date. A majority of respondents, 55 percent, preferred that schools open prior to Labor Day on Aug. 29, 2016.

The survey also polled respondents on whether or not they would support a change in two-hour early dismissals to two-hour delayed openings. A majority of responses, 61 percent, were not in favor of this change. A high majority of respondents prefer schools to be open on Columbus Day, with 82 percent in favor of students attending school that day. Responses for whether or not schools should be open on Veterans Day were split, with 55 percent of respondents in favor of opening for students that day, and 45 percent in favor of closing schools.

Additionally, the survey included space for respondents to leave feedback. A majority of the comments received included reducing the number of two-hour early dismissals; not taking away scheduled spring break days; adding additional inclement weather days; reducing the number of student days off during the school year; and shortening winter break.

The proposed school calendar for the 2016-17 school year was presented to the Board at their April 14 meeting, and will be voted on at their meeting in June. A copy is posted on the school system website at http://www.ccboe.com/aboutus/calendar/general.php.

Science Center hosting summer camps for students

The James E. Richmond Science Center is hosting several science summer camps from June through August for students in grades four through eight interested in exciting additional learning opportunities. Four sessions are available for registration; cost of each session is $185 per week with a one-time non-refundable registration fee of $40 per student.

All sessions run from 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. and participants are responsible for bringing their own lunch. Transportation is not provided. Additionally, all sessions include a 30-minute daily swim period, with activities for students who do not want to swim. Swimmers will need to bring their bathing suit and towel. Snacks and water will be provided during each session.

Registration is available online at http://www.ccboe.com/sciencecenter/camps/. All sessions will be led by Charles County Public Schools teachers.

The following is session information:

-- June 22 through June 26 – Mission to Mars – Students will explore geology and have first-hand experiences of what astronauts may encounter on Mars. Included in the session is a viewing of “Invaders of Mars” in the digital theater, Maven Mission using the Science on a Sphere technology, testing the chemistry of Martian soil, analyzing NASA images and information, a Mars maze and designing an edible Mars rover.

-- July 13 through July 17 – Baby, You’re a Star! Cosmic Connection to the Elements – Students will be introduced to atomic theory and investigate the life of a star. The session also includes a showing of “Exploding Universe” in the digital theater, spin art, create your own constellation, star composition and flashlight constellation activities.

-- Aug. 17 through Aug. 21 – STEM Sensation – In this session, students will create items associated with STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, learning. Activities include using a calculator to control a robot, building and launching rockets, designing bridges on computers and a showing of “Perfect Little Planet” in the digital theater.

-- Aug. 24 through Aug. 28 – Up, Up and Away! The Science of Flight – Students will explore the theories of flight and construct several items that can fly, from a basic paper airplane to a hot air balloon. Activities include a viewing of “Dream to Fly” in the digital theater, exploring flight patterns on the Science on a Sphere technology, digitally built gliders and water balloon rockets.

Visit http://www.ccboe.com/sciencecenter/ for more information on Science Center events.

County elementary school teams compete in MESA

Nine Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams placed in the elementary Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) competition held April 9 at North Point High School. Student teams compete in competitions that test their abilities in mathematics, engineering and science. Dr. James Craik Elementary School was chosen as the overall elementary school winner.

This is the second consecutive year that Craik has earned the overall school award. Awards are given for first-, second-, and third-place teams in each challenge and one overall elementary school winner is chosen. The school that earns the most points throughout the competition is chosen as the overall winner and advances to the state level. As the overall elementary school winner, the Craik team advances to the state competition scheduled for May 7 at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Teams from the county's 21 elementary schools participated in the following challenges: Balsawood Bridge, Effective Communications, SCRATCH - Computer Programming and Storybook Theme Park Ride.

The following teams placed at the competition.

Balsawood Bridge:

-- T.C. Martin Elementary School, first place;

-- Gale-Bailey Elementary School, second place; and

-- Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, third place.

Effective Communications:

-- Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, first place;

-- Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School, second place; and

-- William A. Diggs Elementary School, third place.

SCRATCH - Computer Programming:

-- Diggs, first place;

-- Craik, second place; and

-- Mary B. Neal Elementary School, third place.

Storybook Theme Park Ride:

-- Craik, first place;

-- Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy, second place; and

-- Indian Head Elementary School, third place.

Since 2008, CCPS has competed as a separate Maryland MESA region due to increased student participation in the program. Maryland MESA is designed to prepare students for academic and professional careers in mathematics, engineering, science and technology. The program's goals are to increase the number of engineers, scientists, mathematicians and related professionals at technical and management levels; and to serve as a driving force in encouraging and assisting minorities and females in achieving success in these fields.

CCPS also held a MESA event for county middle and high schools on April 10. The overall middle school winner is General Smallwood Middle School, and Henry E. Lackey High School is the overall high school winner. The secondary results are available on the school system website at www.ccboe.com. More information about MESA is available at http://www.jhuapl.edu/mesa/home/default.asp.

County middle and high school teams compete in MESA

Ten Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) teams placed in the secondary Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) competition held April 10 at North Point High School. Student teams compete in competitions that test their abilities in mathematics, engineering and science. General Smallwood Middle School was chosen as the overall middle school winner and Henry E. Lackey High School was chosen as the overall high school winner.

First-, second-, and third-place teams in each challenge receive awards and one overall middle and high school winner is chosen. The middle and high school teams that earn the most points throughout the competition is chosen as the overall winner. This is the second consecutive year that Lackey was named the overall high school winner. As the overall winning schools, the Smallwood and Lackey teams advance to the state competition scheduled for May 7 at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Additionally, teams from Milton M. Somers Middle and Westlake High schools advance to the state event as first-place winners at their respective levels in the Prosthetic Arm Challenge. Winners in the Prosthetic Arm Challenge at the state level advance to the national competition held in June.

Middle school teams compete in four challenges: ALICE Interactive Game Design, Hovercraft, Basswood Bridge and Prosthetic Arm. The high school teams also compete in four competitions: PYTHON Cyber Robot Challenge, IEEE Robot, Basswood Bridge and Prosthetic Arm.

The following teams placed at the middle school level:

ALICE Interactive Game Design:

-- Matthew Henson Middle School, first place;

-- Piccowaxen Middle School, second place; and

-- Smallwood, third place.

Hovercraft:

-- John Hanson Middle School, first place;

-- Piccowaxen, second place; and

-- Smallwood, third place.

Basswood Bridge:

-- Smallwood, first place;

-- Henson, second place; and

-- Somers, third place.

Prosthetic Arm:

-- Somers, first place;

-- Smallwood, second place; and

-- Piccowaxen, third place.

The following teams placed at the high school level:

PYTHON Cyber Robot Challenge:

-- Lackey, first place;

-- Westlake, second place; and

-- North Point, third place.

IEEE Robot:

-- Lackey, first place;

-- La Plata High School, second place; and

-- North Point, third place.

Basswood Bridge:

-- La Plata, first place;

-- Lackey, second place; and

-- Westlake, third place.

Prosthetic Arm:

-- Westlake, first place;

-- La Plata, second place; and

-- Lackey, third place.

Since 2008, CCPS has competed as a separate Maryland MESA region due to increased student participation. Maryland MESA is designed to prepare students for academic and professional careers in mathematics, engineering, science and technology. The program's goals are to increase the number of engineers, scientists, mathematicians and related professionals at technical and management levels; and to serve as a driving force in encouraging and assisting minorities and females in achieving success in these fields.

CCPS also held a MESA event for county elementary schools on April 9. The overall winner was Dr. James Craik Elementary School. The elementary results are available on the school system website at www.ccboe.com. More information about MESA is available at http://www.jhuapl.edu/mesa/home/default.asp.

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