County Celebrates

The Life of Rosa Parks

County officials gathered last Wednesday as Montgomery County's Ride On bus system recognized Dec. 1 as "Rosa Parks Day" in Montgomery County by permanently installing commemorative plaques on all the buses.

Parks, who died in October, helped launch the civil rights movement on Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.

County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) participated in the ceremony at the Ride On bus depot in Silver Spring.

Wheaton High to Offer

New Program Next Year

Montgomery County public schools have partnered with the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Montgomery College to offer juniors and seniors at Wheaton High School the chance to earn up to 15 college credits through Wheaton's new academy, the Institute for Global and Cultural Studies.

The institute will offer classes in journalism, international relations, history and human rights. It was created as a counterbalance to the high school's programs emphasizing science and technology.

The institute will be offered to students in the Downcounty Consortium, which includes Montgomery Blair, John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Northwood and Wheaton high schools. Eighth-grade students will be introduced to the program this year so that they can decide whether they are interested in enrolling in the program the following year.

Montgomery College and UMBC will offer help developing a college-ready curriculum, providing tutors and staff from their learning centers.

The program is set to start next fall.

For more information, visit www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/downcounty or call 301-929-2050.

Conference to Examine

Tracking in Schools

The Equity in Education Coalition of Montgomery County will hold a conference to discuss the tracking system and ways to end "a two-tiered public education system" from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at John F. Kennedy High School.

The keynote speaker is Pedro Noguera, a professor from the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. Panelists include high school students testifying about the effects of tracking. The school is at 1901 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.

County to Host Medicare

Information Session

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Aging and Disability Services and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold an information session on the new Medicare prescription drug program from 10 am. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Rd., Silver Spring. For information, call 301-681-1255.

Seniors Can Call Hotline

For Medicare Information

County residents can learn about the new Medicare prescription drug program by calling Senior Health Insurance Counseling program at 301-590-2819. Calls should be returned within 24 hours.

Callers should have available a list of prescriptions, including cost and dosage, pharmacy names and locations, and insurance policy information.

Free Cab Ride Program

Runs Through Jan. 1

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free cab rides from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. tomorrow through Jan. 1 to help keep drunk drivers off the roads.

Individuals 21 and older can get a free ride by calling 800-200-8294. Cingular Wireless customers can dial the pound sign (#)-8294 for a free ride.

Last year, nearly 3,000 people used the service.

For more information, visit www.soberride.com.

Seniors Computer Center Opens in Silver Spring

A computer center aimed at low-income seniors opened last week in Silver Spring, the result of a partnership between the county's Housing Opportunities Commission and the Senior Connection.

The Senior On-Line Computer Center is at Arcola Towers, an HOC apartment building for low-income seniors.

The center has eight computers, a color and black-and-white printer and two staff members who are funded through block grants provided by the county's Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

The center provides basic computer classes in English and Spanish. There are two similar centers at senior resident facilities in Bethesda and Silver Spring.

Pubic Comment Sought

On Preservation Plan

The Montgomery County Planning Board seeks public comment on its historic preservation staff's "Draft Strategic Plan for Cultural Resources in Parks" at a meeting next Thursday. The draft will be discussed sometime between 9:30 a.m. and noon.

The draft plan will address how to maintain, protect and use the 100 historic structures and nearly 50 archaeological sites within the county's park system.

Copies of the draft plan are available online at www.mc-mncppc.org/historic/index.shtm.

The board meets at 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. To sign up to testify, call 301-495-4600.

Donate Some Food and

Ride the Bus for Free

Ride On bus passengers who donate canned or nonperishable food items will receive free rides during the bus system's annual "Give and Ride" food drive Monday through Dec. 18.

Food collections bags will be placed near fare boxes on each bus. Disposable diapers, formula, baby food and juice also will be accepted.

Donations will be given to Manna Food Center, a nonprofit organization that distributes food to county residents.

Donations can also be given to a bus operator at any Ride On stop or to the Commuter Express Store, 8401 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring.

-- Compiled by ARUNA JAIN

Plaques commemorating the day Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat in Montgomery, Ala., have been placed on the county's Ride On buses.