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This Week in Potomac 12-20-06

Students Must Comply with Vaccination Laws

Montgomery County health and school officials are urging parents to make sure their middle-school and high-school students comply with the new Maryland law requiring vaccination for Hepatitis B and Varicella (chicken pox). Currently, nearly 5,000 students in Montgomery County Public Schools grades 6, 7, 8 and 9 will be excluded from school on Jan. 2, 2007, if they do not have the required vaccinations.

Each middle and high school has scheduled one day between Dec. 12 and Dec. 20, when school nurses will administer vaccines in school to students who return signed consent forms. In addition, multiple clinics have been held at locations throughout the county on a weekly basis.

Vaccines are also available at county clinics and private physician providers. The County’s Immunization Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is providing vaccine and other supplies for this effort.

The legal requirement for vaccinations also applies to students in private and parochial schools, but County health officials do not know how many students are affected. State health officials are responsible for monitoring private schools.

Free vaccinations are available to private as well as public school students at the School Health Services Center, 4910 Macon Road, Rockville

* Wednesday, Dec. 20, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

* Friday, Dec. 22, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

* Friday, Dec. 29, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

Hepatitis B is a highly infectious virus that can cause liver damage, liver cancer and even death. The vaccine is highly effective and has been used in the United States for more than two decades.

Parents who have questions about their child’s vaccination needs may contact their child’s school health staff. For other vaccine information, including flu shots, call the 24-hour Immunization Information Line 240-777-1050.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

The Cabin John Volunteer Fire Department will be passing through neighborhoods between now and Christmas with Santa riding atop a fire engine and collecting unwrapped gifts to be given to charity for children ages 6-13. The schedule for Santa's rides is:

* Tuesday, Dec. 19, Camotop, Falconhurst, Bradley Farms, McAuley Park, Kentdale Park, Bradley Boulevard Estates, Congressional Manor, Congressional Forest Estates.

* Wednesday, Dec. 20, Stonehurst Center, Seven Locks Hills, Burning Tree Estates, Rose Hill Estates, Laurel Hill.

Thursday, Dec. 21, Arrowood, Bradley Hills Grove, Burning Tree Valley, Bradley Park, Frenchman's Creek.

* Friday, Dec. 22, West Bethesda Park, Oakwood Knolls, Locust Ridge, Cohasset.

Saturday, Dec. 23, Bannockburn, Bannockburn Estates, Al Marrah

Sunday, Dec. 24, Santa Delivers Toys to the Children!!

Walgreens Coming to Potomac Village

Walgreen's will open a 24-hour pharmacy in Potomac Village in early 2007. The store will occupy the retail space formerly held by The Gap. The site is being prepared now and according to Ted Cain, who owns the property and is leasing the space to Walgreen's, should be ready in approximately three months.

Police Warn of Assault and Offer Prevention Tactics

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police 2nd District Investigative Section are looking for an unknown man who, according to police, inappropriately touched a jogger along a bike path in Bethesda.

According to police, the morning of Dec. 12 at 5:15 a.m., a 24-year-old female victim was jogging on the bike path that runs along King Riding Way near Tuckerman Lane in Bethesda, when unknown man came up behind the victim as she was jogging and grabbed her in a "bear-hug". Police say the victim broke free of the suspect and screamed, and the suspect ran away in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as a white male, in his early 20’s, 5’6" to 5’8" tall, with short brown hair. He was last seen wearing a black and white shirt with a dark jacket. The suspect was not wearing running attire.

Anyone who has information about the suspect or the incident along the bike path is asked to call the Bethesda Investigative Section at 301-657-0112. Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous should call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Police offer the following reminders for those out jogging along bike paths, sidewalks or roadways:

* Be aware of your surroundings. If you must run in the early morning hours, or evening, be sure you are running in well-lit areas.

* Act on your gut instincts. If a situation seems suspicious, don’t discount that feeling and go to an area where there are other people around.

* Always carry some form of identification with you. Another option is to write your name and phone number on your shoes. If you are allergic to medication, it is important to carry that information with you.

* Do not wear head sets. It is very difficult to hear cars, a siren, or someone running behind you when you are occupied with listening to music.

* Find a running partner. A family member, friend, or neighbor might be a runner. It is always safer to be with someone when jogging.

* Vary your route. So your running routine will not become obvious to anyone.

Let someone know where you are. If possible, let someone know when you are leaving and when you expect to return.

Participation and Performance Levels in Advanced Placement Exams by MCPS Students Set New Records

ROCKVILLE, MD—The Class of 2006 broke Advanced Placement (AP) participation and performance records established by the Class of 2005 and capped a five-year trend of consistently higher performance for graduates from all student groups, a new Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) analysis shows. Fifty-six percent (5,282 students) took at least one AP exam and 45 percent (4,234 students) earned at least one AP score of 3 or higher.

"This report reflects the hard work of students who are supported by highly professional teachers, principals, and staff who believe strongly in the benefits of a rigorous academic program," said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. "The data are clear—more MCPS graduates than ever before are leaving high school prepared for college-level coursework."

The historic high levels of achievement for the Class of 2006 stretch across all student demographic groups. Analysis of these record-setting numbers demonstrates the effectiveness of MCPS efforts to open up Honors and AP courses to all students. Challenges remain in addressing differences in AP exam participation and performance among the various student demographic groups. While performance and participation differences remain between White and Asian American students and their African American and Hispanic peers, African American and Hispanic students in the Class of 2005 outperformed the national average for all students. National averages for the Class of 2006 are not yet available.

The complete Advanced Placement Exam Participation and Performance Report for the MCPS Classes of 2002 to 2006 is on the MCPS web site at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.

Critical Blood Shortage

The National Institute of Health Blood Bank has announced an urgent need for type O blood donors. Both local and regional inventories of this blood type are dangerously low. If you are a donor with blood type O, please donate today by visiting the NIH Blood Bank located on the first floor of the Clinical Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda. Hours of operation are from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Please call for an appointment or directions at 301-496-1048. Convenient, free parking is available for blood donors.

If you have not donated blood before and are not sure if you are eligible, please visit www.cc.nih.gov/dtm/html/donrinfo.htm to learn more about being a donor at NIH.

Blindness Prevention Fundraiser, Free Glaucoma Screenings at Behnke Nurseries

Behnke Nurseries on 9545 River Road, Potomac, is partnering with the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington (POB) for a fundraising campaign to benefit POB’s sight-saving programs.

Between Nov. 16 and Dec. 24, Behnke Nurseries will donate $1 from every purchase made at its garden centers to the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington, as well as provide locations for free glaucoma screenings.

Legacy Open Space Advisory Group Members Sought

The Montgomery County Planning Board seeks individuals to serve on the Legacy Open Space Advisory Group. The group provides public input on which irreplaceable natural resources, watershed lands and historic properties are purchased and preserved for future generations.

The Legacy Open Space Advisory Group reviews the program to protect identified Legacy Open Space sites; reviews new nominations of sites for protection under the program; comments on park management plans for already acquired properties; and identifies other funding sources, such as private donations and foundation grants.

Advisory Group applicants must be residents of Montgomery County with an interest in the future of the County’s parks and green spaces; have the ability to attend four evening meetings per year; and have an interest in learning more about natural resources, historic sites, green space preservation, and urban open space issues. Experience with these issues is a plus, but not necessary.

To apply, please send a letter expressing your interest to: Brenda Sandberg, Legacy Open Space Program Manager, 1109 Spring Street, Suite 800, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

For more information on the Legacy Open Space program and the Advisory Group, please contact Brenda Sandberg at 301-650-4360 or Brenda.sandberg@mncppc-mc.org.