I am upset about the image that the Prince George's County schools seem to have, both around the state and in the minds of people who are always reading about achievements of other counties' schools but not ours. There are exceptional students in our county who are doing things nobody else is doing, and people everywhere should know about it.
When I go to state conventions and other meetings as a representative of our schools, there always seems to be a stigma attached to any reference to our system -- a sort of feeling that, "Oh, you are from Prince George's," said in a tone that I don't appreciate.
For example, I remember a disappointing experience with the press last week. We were attending the Maryland Association of Student Councils convention in Ocean City, and a reporter for The Washington Post spent some time with our council president, Christine Cain, and another student, Joe Harr. There was a nice picture of the two of them, but the whole article quoted representatives from Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. It turned out the reporter had spent about half an hour with all of these students and talked about the entire convention. Yet all of the quotes came from the Montgomery students. It was as if theirs were the only county.
Stories like that make it seem as if all of the good things in schools are done anywhere else but in Prince George's. Not only are there good students, but they take pride in their schools and are hurt when the good stories aren't told. Maybe it's because it's my school, but I happen to think Suitland High is one of the best schools in the county.
Many schools with less-than-great reputations deserve a closer look. They have top students involved in all sorts of activities. People could take a look at our new auditorium at Suitland, and they would find students hard at work in rehearsal on a major production of "Cinderella" that will be presented in November. The cast members include students with a variety of interests -- members of the Junior ROTC program, football players and student government leaders, to name some. In all, there are more than 100 students involved and there is support from the whole faculty for this show. You don't get that kind of participation in all schools.
You wouldn't always know it, but we have set the examples for other schools in many ways. Our student government activities have been copied elsewhere, and other programs, too. But except for an occasional picture of a "student of the month" in the Maryland Weekly, you don't see a lot about us.
I'm not talking here just about your 3.0 student. I'm talking about people such as a guy in our school who made an international boxing team. When he came back to school after this experience, everyone there went crazy about what he had done. These are the kinds of things that need to be brought out, not just the three or four National Honor Scholarships at a school.
The schools in Prince George's County just deserve better recognition for the hard work they're doing -- and it couldn't begin too soon.