The politics and controversy that swirl around the Prince George's County public schools too often obscure student accomplishments.
Here are some who stand out.
In September, five students from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt were named finalists for academic achievement in Maryland's Distinguished Scholar Program: Allison S. Bailey, Imogen J. Davidson White, Sudesna Lakshman, Michael J. Murchison and Susannah D. Reed.
Three county students were named finalists for talent in the arts in the same scholar program: Grace A. Johnson and Elise M. Posey, both for dance, from Suitland High School; and Shahla G. Abdi, for visual art, from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville.
Another 22 students from the county's public schools were semifinalists. From Roosevelt High, they were: Anthony J. Cressman, Alexander H. Fischer, Ann C. Fraistat, Angela M. Gentile, Robert M. Hughes, Alima M. Kamara, David B. Mainzer, Adam I. Mohamed, Elizabeth A. Mongeon, Kevin C. Nathan, Peter M. Phelps, Thomas A. Schwenn, Deborah Y. Shroder, Payal D. Soni and Robert A. Walker. From Bowie High School, Richard F. Duckworth and Abigail Phillip. From Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale, Eletha J. Flores. From High Point High School in Beltsville, Jonathan M. Kumalaki. From Suitland High, Sekeithia T. Johnson, Tiffany R. McKinley and Marisa E. Rand.
The Distinguished Scholar Program, run by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, distributes scholarships worth $3,000 a year to finalists who choose to attend a college or university within the state. Semifinalists are put on an alternates' list, eligible for scholarships that would otherwise go unused.
Last week, the school system also announced that 12 students were named semifinalists in the National Achievement Scholarship Program, run by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. The program honors high-achieving black students. Semifinalists, chosen for their PSAT test scores, will go on to compete for scholarships to be awarded in the spring.
They are: Phylicia J. Nance and Abigail Phillip (a second honor) of Bowie High; Olayinka F. Akinsuyi of Flowers High; Letitia A. Cosbert, Kyle G. Daniels, Alima M. Kamara (another twice-honored) and Johari A. Malik of Roosevelt High; Stephen A. Alisop of High Point High; Andrea M. Mills of Laurel High School; and Robyn C. Burgess, Sterling T. Grimes and Clifton Leach of Oxon Hill High School.
Wal-Mart Honors Teacher
Also worth noting: Michael Powell of Patuxent Elementary School last month was named state "teacher of the year" by the Wal-Mart retail chain, an honor that came with a $10,000 grant for the Upper Marlboro school.
Budget Input Sought
During this academic year, Prince George's County will spend nearly $1.4 billion to run 199 public schools. Some people may complain about how that money is spent. But they can't say school officials aren't seeking their opinions.
Next Thursday, interim schools chief Howard A. Burnett will hold a public forum at 7 p.m. to solicit suggestions for the next budget at the Oxon Hill Staff Development Center, 7711 Livingston Rd. He will hold a second forum on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at High Point High, 3601 Powder Mill Rd., and a third on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at Flowers High, 10001 Ardwick-Ardmore Rd.
Fiscal 2007 begins on July 1, 2006.
New Boundaries Ahead
Boundary alert: The school system has begun planning new boundaries for the school year that begins next August, which will take into account a new elementary school in west Hyattsville and a new high school in Upper Marlboro.
Last week, the school board began consideration of a likely name for the 2,600-seat school: Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School. (The "Jr." refers to the name of the person honored, not the grade levels in the school.)
Wise, according to a board resolution, received a Purple Heart and other military honors for combat service with the renowned Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Afterward, he became the first black doctor in the county admitted to practice medicine at Prince George's Hospital. The school name is likely to be approved in the coming weeks.
Cleaning the Slate?
Above the dais at the school board meeting room last week in Upper Marlboro, there was a bare spot on the wall where the paint had not faded evenly. Previously, a prominent banner had hung there, just above the board chairman's seat, proclaiming a school system slogan: "Read to Lead." Perhaps that phrase, promoted by departed schools chief Andre J. Hornsby, is no longer operative. The system awaits a new chief and a new rallying cry.