Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

High school graduations set for May 29-30 at Convocation Center

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) high school graduation ceremonies are May 29 and May 30 at the Convocation Center at North Point High School. All ceremonies will be aired live on the school system website, Ceremonies for La Plata, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools are May 29; ceremonies for North Point, Maurice J. McDonough and Henry E. Lackey high schools are May 30. All Charles County public high schools, including St. Charles High School, are closed May 29. The Robert D. Stethem Educational Center is also closed May 29.

The graduation schedule is as follows:

May 29

-- La Plata, 8:30 a.m.

-- Stone, 2 p.m.

-- Westlake, 7:30 p.m.

May 30

-- North Point, 8:30 a.m.

-- McDonough, 2 p.m.

-- Lackey, 7:30 p.m.

To watch the ceremony live on the CCPS website, visit A slideshow of personalized images for each graduation ceremony will rotate on the main page of the website close to the start time of each ceremony. Website visitors only need to click on the picture for the ceremony in which they want to view to access the live coverage. Each ceremony can also be directly accessed at the following web addresses. Coverage of each ceremony will also be posted at the direct addresses below following the end of each ceremony.

La Plata:



North Point:



The Convocation Center is located at 2500 Davis Road, Waldorf, Md., 20603. Parking lots and doors open two hours prior to the start of each ceremony. Any guests arriving prior to the opening of parking lots will be directed to park in an overflow lot area. All guests attending graduations, including babies, must have a ticket to be admitted. Seating is first come, first served and there are reserved seats for guests needing an interpreter or with disabilities.

All ceremonies will start promptly and guests are asked to observe a silent roll call as graduates receive their diploma. The following items are prohibited in the Convocation Center: food or drinks (including water), strollers, balloons, air horns and beach balls or similar items. Guests with cell phones should turn them off or on silent before entering the Convocation Center to eliminate any disruptions.

Lifetouch, the official yearbook photographer, will take professional photos of each graduate as they receive their diploma covers. The photos will be posted at one week following the ceremonies. dbF, a local media company, is videotaping each graduation and will have DVDs for sale.

Guests should remain seated following the end of each ceremony until all faculty and graduates have recessed. Guests can meet graduates in the school’s football stadium, where students will pick up their diplomas. Photo opportunities in the stadium will end two hours after the start of each ceremony, and parking lots close two and a half hours after the start of each ceremony.

For more information about graduation 2015, visit the school system website at

Summer school registration begins June 24

Registration for the 2015 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) summer school program is June 24-25 at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. Summer school begins on Tuesday, June 30, at Westlake High School. Courses through the CCPS Summer school program are available for registration for Charles County residents only.

Walk-in registration times for Wednesday and Thursday, June 24-25, are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registrations will not be accepted after 6 p.m. on June 25. Registration forms, as well as copies of the summer school rules and procedures, are available at all middle and high school counseling offices.

Registration forms must be completed by the parent/guardian, verified by the school counselor and signed by the principal before registration. The summer school rules and procedures form must be signed by the student and parent/guardian, and must accompany registration forms. Graduating seniors must provide a completed graduation release sheet from their home school during registration.

The summer school session begins Tuesday, June 30 and ends Thursday, July 30. Classes are Monday through Friday. No classes will be held Friday, July 3. The fee is $200 per make-up class and the fee for make-up extended classes is $300 per class. Fit for Life will be offered from June 30 through July 15 and is $100 per class.

Parents/guardians are responsible for student transportation to and from summer school. Payment is due at registration. Cash, Visa, MasterCard, money orders and certified bank checks are the only accepted forms of payment. Partial payments will not be accepted. Refunds are only given if a course is canceled or a written request is received by administration by June 30. No refund is given if a student is removed from the summer school program for a violation of the Charles County Public Schools Code of Student Conduct or attendance policy.

Graduation is Thursday, July 30 at 4 p.m. at Westlake High School.

Call 301-932-1003 for more information. For a list of available summer school courses, visit

School system searching for top teachers

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Human Resources department is starting early to fill the nearly 200 teaching vacancies it anticipates for next school year.

“Last year we had about 200 openings and I don’t really expect less this year,” said Human Resources Specialist Sean McDonald. Filling those vacancies, he said, is becoming a challenge. “The school system has seen a drop in the number, 20 to 30 percent, in candidates available in places that traditionally have been fruitful for us,” McDonald said. Hiring is especially difficult in high needs areas, including math, English, science, library media, computer science and special education.

Recently, CCPS invited 35 top teaching candidates in hard-to-fill specialty areas to interview with principals and staff during a two-day Teacher Interview Day event at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building in La Plata. “We’re going to continue to see this type of challenge in hiring and we have to come up with different ways to recruit. This is one way,” McDonald said.

Erin Locke, a special education candidate from Prince George’s County, and Zach Morris, an English teacher candidate from Indiana, Pa., were among the top candidates recruiters recommended following screening interviews at recruitment job fairs. The candidates interviewed with principals speed-dating style, rotating from table to table and interviewing with a different principal every 30 minutes for five and a half hours. The event occurred April 30 and May 1, and each candidate, sorted by subject area, participated on one of the two days.

“Today’s event was amazing,” Locke said following her May 1 session. “I liked having the opportunity to have conversations with principals.”

Morris agreed, “I liked the format and the school system. Interviewing didn’t seem so business–like. I finished with the impression this is a school community that feels like family and it offers a ton of support.”

The goal of the targeted interviews, McDonald said, is to identify candidates who rank highly by a number of schools and offer positions early. Already, 12 candidates have accepted open contracts — meaning they signed a contract to teach their subject area at any CCPS school — and four others have tentatively accepted pending potential placement with a school. Other candidates may receive offers, McDonald said, as openings occur.

“The human resources department is being proactive in recruiting candidates, especially in high needs areas. It’s the law of supply and demand. We are putting our best foot forward to find the best teachers to fill our classrooms,” McDonald said.

System launches survey to gather parental input on schools

Charles County Public Schools is seeking feedback about the school system and its 36 schools from the parent community. A confidential survey was launched today to gather parental input about their child’s school. The survey is available on the school system website under the What’s New section of the main homepage. The survey can also be accessed directly at

Parents with more than one child enrolled in a Charles County public school can complete the survey for each school their child attends. Responses are confidential and will help the school system learn what parents think about the success of their child’s school and what can be improved. The survey is available for input until Friday, May 29.

Items included on the survey include student learning, school climate, safe and orderly environment, parental involvement and extracurricular activities. Questions about the survey can be directed to the Charles County Public Schools department of research and assessment at or 301-934-7313.

St. Charles High School holds formal dedication

St. Charles High School celebrated its successful first year on May 15, formally dedicating the school and pool.

Students and staff promoted the county’s seventh and newest high school during a ceremony that included presentations, project overviews, student performances, a key passing ceremony, a ribbon cutting at the pool and remarks from school and county officials. St. Charles opened in August 2014.

St. Charles Principal Richard Conley welcomed visitors with an overview of the 288,283 square-foot school that stacks four academic houses on four floors and contains 80 teaching stations. Conley noted the environmental features built into the school that make it a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard facility. The building design incorporates energy management features, including natural lighting, water efficient landscaping, and a geothermal heating and cooling system. Conley stressed, however, that it is not the building that makes a school. He talked about how students and staff are creating a school community through instruction, extracurricular activities and programs.

Superintendent Kimberly Hill talked about the process of opening St. Charles. Starting with approval of the building site just north of the baseball stadium on Piney Church Road in 2006, St. Charles faced a number of delays. Before opening its doors in August 2014, the state, county and school system twice delayed the school opening, largely due to the recession and the high cost of building a 1,600-capacity high school.

Hill concluded her remarks with reference to the high tech features in the James E. Richmond Science Center, the environmental qualities and the swimming pool that provide sound instructional opportunities for students. She said, “It’s not the bricks and mortar that make the educational program excellent—it’s the teachers, staff and students. But to quote Senator Barbara Mikulski, ‘But kids cannot compete for 21st century jobs with 20th century equipment. No way. No how,’” Hill said.

Early in the building process, Mikulski secured a half million dollars in the Commerce, Justice and Science Funding Bill for the technology and construction of the digital dome at the Science Center.

Also attending the dedication were friends and family of the late Col. Donald M. Wade. The dedication included a ribbon cutting at the pool named for the former Board member who was instrumental in securing county funds to build the pool. The pool complex contains a competition sized six-lane, 25-yard pool, as well as locker rooms and bleacher seating. The previous Board of Education named the complex the Col. Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center. The school, countywide swim teams and Community Services will use the indoor pool year round.

St. Charles also houses the James E. Richmond Science Center, which is open to the public and used by students systemwide. The state-of-the-art digital classroom and Science on a Sphere are main features of the center.

In addition to the pool, St. Charles athletic features include a football stadium with an eight-lane track; bleacher seating for 1,500 home/500 visitors; 14 fields including football, baseball, softball, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse; and eight tennis courts.

School system to open St. Charles pool

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) newest indoor pool opens June 6.

School and county officials, along with the family of the late Col. Donald M. Wade, dedicated the St. Charles High School pool May 15 during a ribbon cutting ceremony. The county is waiting for final permits and approvals before opening to the public.

The Board of Education named the pool area the “Col. Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center” in honor of Wade, a former Board member who is credited with securing funding and approval to build the pool at St. Charles.

The pool was removed from the original St. Charles building plans. However, in Sept. 2013, even though construction on the high school was underway, Col. Wade successfully lobbied the Charles County Commissioners to restore funding and build the pool.

During the St. Charles dedication ceremony, former Board member Roberta Wise said, “As usual, he (Wade) did this in his gentlemanly way but with the voice of determination and command of the officer he was.”

Wise said Wade explained to the Commissioners the heavy community use of the indoor pools at Henry E. Lackey and North Point high schools; the convenient location and need for an indoor pool in the St. Charles area; and his opinion that all citizens need to learn to swim since Charles County is surrounded by so much water. Wade provided statistics showing children of color are less likely to learn to swim and reminded the Commissioners that CCPS is a minority/majority school system, Wise said. “The commissioners heard him and later granted his wish,” Wise said.

Maurice Wade, speaking on behalf of the Wade family, thanked the school system for the recognition of his father’s efforts that were always focused on education and children. Col. Wade passed away June 1, 2014, shortly before the end of his fourth term on the Board of Education.

According to Steve Andritz, CCPS project manager, construction on the pool is complete. The pool at St. Charles is the third CCPS indoor pool, and the newest since 2005 when the North Point pool opened. The first indoor pool opened at Lackey.

The pool is 19,183 square feet and includes six competition-length lanes; spectator seating for 338, including handicapped areas; and separate men’s and women’s locker rooms to make the pool available after hours for community use.

Andritz said the pool also contains many of the environmental features found at St. Charles, including: day lighting, geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient lighting and rainwater harvesting from the pool roof.

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