Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Last day of school for students is June 14

The last day of the 2012-13 school year for Charles County Public Schools students is Friday, June 14. Two-hour early dismissal days are June 12, 13 and 14. The last day of school for students in the Three’s Program is Tuesday, June 11. The last day of school for teachers is Monday, June 17.

Charles County Public Schools used all four of the inclement weather days built into the school calendar. Information printed in the 2012-13 Parent Handbook/Calendar is up-to-date. The school system closed schools four times for inclement weather. Those days were Oct. 29; Oct. 30; Jan. 24 and March 6.

Reports cards for students in the Three’s Program will be issued on June 11. Morning prekindergarten students receive their report cards on Thursday, June 13, and afternoon prekindergarten students receive their report cards June 14. All other elementary school report cards will be issued to students on June 14. Report cards for middle and high school students will be mailed home on Friday, June 21.

Registration for the 2013 Summer School program begins at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center on Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27. Times are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. No registrations will be accepted after 7 p.m. on June 27. Classes begin for Summer School on Tuesday, July 2 at Westlake High School.

Additionally, schools will hold separate Summer Academy learning opportunities for students. Elementary and middle school activities are planned for the end of June and into July, and high school activities are planned for mid-July. Each school is coordinating their own activities. Questions regarding Summer Academy opportunities should be directed to the individual schools.

Proposed grammar, reading and mathematics textbooks on display

New textbooks proposed for next school year are on display at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building in La Plata, and several county schools.

Three new textbooks are proposed for use at the middle and high school levels as part of the SpringBoard program. The SpringBoard program is a College Board pre-advanced placement program that consists of a full curriculum in mathematics and English/language arts for middle- and high-school students.

The textbooks are published by the College Board and include English Textual Power, Levels 3 and 6, and Mathematics with Meaning Middle School Math 2. The books are needed to meet the objectives outlined in the Common Core State Standards. They are on display at the Starkey Building, Matthew Henson Middle School and Westlake High School.

Three additional textbooks, William Sadlier’s Grammar Workshop, Levels Green, Orange and Blue, are proposed for use at the elementary school level with students in grades third through fifth. The textbooks highlight instruction in grammar and language mechanics, and include application of the skills in writing. The program aligns with the Common Core State Standards. These books are on display at the Starkey Building, and Indian Head and J.P. Ryon elementary schools.

The Board of Education is reviewing the books and will take action on the books at the May 14 meeting. Community members are encouraged to review the books and provide comment in writing to the Board of Education, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD, 20646; through e-mail to; or in person at the Public Forum on May 14, 6 p.m., at the Starkey Building.

Colors, mascot chosen for St. Charles High School

It’s official; the colors for St. Charles High School are kelly green, navy blue and white. The mascot is the Spartan.

St. Charles Principal Richard Conley announced today the final selection of the colors and mascot for the school, which is scheduled to open in August 2014. The selection is made early in order to incorporate the colors and mascot into the school during the construction phase.

Conley held a focus group meeting with parents and students who live nearby the site to gather input on preferences. Additionally, Conley considered student suggestions provided by the Charles County Association of Student Councils (CCASC) and staff ideas.

Conley feels the colors represent the vision for the new school. “Selecting our school colors and mascot provided an exciting opportunity to bring the St. Charles community together to begin to discuss the image that will be associated with our school, its programs and students. After exploring many options, our selection committee decided on the colors kelly green, navy blue and white in part because of our vision that St. Charles High School will be a community hub for environmental education and green technology in our schools,” he said.

He also likes using the Spartan as the mascot, which was the top choice of parents and students as well as a suggestion from the CCASC. “The choice of the mascot is fitting as well, as historically the Spartans were a proud and strong culture. Pride and strength, whether they be academic, athletic, or simply a reflection of the character represented by the students and staff, are excellent qualities to have in any school,” Conley said.

Conley said the next step is to work on the design and artwork for the school mascot and seal.

Students to learn life lessons about drinking, texting while driving

The Grim Reaper will visit a Westlake High School classroom every 15 minutes on Thursday, April 11, leaving behind a “living dead” student who silently reminds classmates of the consequences of drinking or texting while driving.

The Westlake Student Government Safe Driving Task Force is participating in the National Every 15 Minutes program on April 11 and 12, which includes a mock automobile accident, the removal by the Grim Reaper of 25 preselected students from classrooms and a post-school trial of the “drunk” driver who caused the morning accident. Sponsored and coordinated by the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD), Every 15 Minutes is a national two-day program that encourages students to think about personal safety when driving, especially when alcohol or texting are involved. The program challenges students to recognize how actions can affect their life and the lives of others.

Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death among teen-age youth, said Guy Yesse, event coordinator and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) captain with the WVFD. The program goal, which is geared toward eleventh- and twelfth-grade students, is to educate teens through realistic experiences that simulate the magnitude of tragedies caused by drunk driving and texting while driving, Yesse said.

“Living dead” students will be taken from class on Thursday, made up to look like corpses, and returned to class as silent reminders that Every 15 Minutes someone is killed or seriously injured in an alcohol-related incident. Students must remain in character for the remainder of the school day and they may not speak or interact with other students. A School Resource Officer will enter the student’s classroom and read an obituary prepared by the student’s parents. Simultaneously, uniformed officers will make mock death notifications to the parents of these children at their home, place of employment or business. Additionally, sheriff’s officers will transport the driver of the car to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office to be processed like an actual offender.

A simulated traffic accident will occur in the front of the school at 9:30 a.m. on April 11. Rescue workers will treat “injured” students who will experience the sensation of being involved in a tragic, alcohol-related driving collision. Members of the WVFD will handle fatalities on the scene while firefighters and paramedics remove the injured students with jaws-of-life tools. A Medevac Helicopter will land across from the school and be used to simulate a fly-out of an injured student. Student participants will continue their experience after school at the Charles County Courthouse for a mock trial of the “drunk driver” who caused the morning accident.

At the end of the day, students who participated in the staged accident as well as those who were made-up as the "living dead" will be taken to Camp Merrick in Nanjemoy for an overnight retreat. The retreat will simulate the separation from friends and family. A support staff of counselors and staff from Westlake as well as members of the WVFD will facilitate the retreat.

Students will work on a presentation to be given at Westlake on April 12 when they are “brought back to life.” The focus of the assembly stresses that the decision to consume alcohol can affect many more people than just the one who drinks and the dangers of texting while driving. The assembly, which will also feature a motivational guest speaker, will illustrate to students the potentially dangerous consequences of their use of alcohol and texting while driving, regardless of how casual they believe their use is.

“I am excited that Westlake High School was selected to host the Every 15 Minutes program. This exercise helps high school students to actually connect the consequences of careless and distracted driving to real people. Such realistic connections can cause students to reflect and reconsider some of their unsafe driving habits and ultimately save lives,” said Westlake Principal Chrystal Benson.

This is the second year that the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department has sponsored Every 15 Minutes with Charles County Public Schools. Last year, Thomas Stone High School students participated in the event, and many students later said changed their driving habits as a result, particularly when it came to texting and driving.

The event also includes the participation by the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, other county fire and rescue departments, Westlake High School staff, Charles County Public Schools, College of Southern Maryland, Maryland State Police Aviation Unit, community officials, Charles County Courthouse officials and a wide cross section of the Charles County community at-large.

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