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This Week in Potomac 1-3-07

Hiker Rescued From Billy Goat Trail

Members of Cabin John Park Volunteer Department removed a hiker from the Purple Horse Beach section of the Billy Goat Trail in C&O Canal National Historical Park on Tuesday afternoon. The hiker, an unidentified female, was taken to Suburban Hospital and treated for an ankle injury, said Steve Miller, assistant chief of Cabin John. Rescuers staged at Old Anglers Inn along the canal and used an inflatable boat to reach and remove the hiker due to the difficult terrain, said Pete Piringer, spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

Holton-Arms Mourns President Ford

In honor of President Gerald R. Ford, who died at the age of 98 on Dec. 27, Tuesday was a national day of mourning. At the Holton-Arms School, it was a day for mourning a United States president as well as a Holton father. Ford’s daughter Susan attended Holton-Arms, and Ford served as the keynote speaker at Holton’s 1975 commencement and hosted the first-ever prom at the White House for Susan’s 73 classmates and their dates.

“The Board of Trustees, Faculty and Staff of the Holton-Arms School wish to convey our sincere condolences to the family of President Gerald R. Ford,” said Diana Coulton Beebe, Holton-Arms head of school, in a press release last week. “He is remembered at Holton as not just the President; he was a Holton father who had the best interests of his daughter in mind first and foremost. Our thoughts and prayers are with Susan and her family at this difficult time.”

Board of Education to Vote on New Middle School Education Policy

The Montgomery County Board of Education will vote Jan. 9 on whether to approve a new directive for middle school education in the county. The Middle School Education Policy IEB is the moniker for the directive that essentially is the mission statement for the county's middle schools. The proposed plan has raised concerns from community members and PTA activists who worry that certain language of the proposed directive indicates a new direction within the county's middle schools that will sacrifice programs for gifted and talented students as a result of an increased focus on raising the standardized test scores of lower-achieving students. PTA activists are also concerned that the plan will be voted on prior to the release of a report by the Middle School Reform Steering Committee, a task force that has been studying reform in the county's middle schools for the last two years and is due to release its findings later this month.

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.

County’s Class of ’06 Sets Records in AP Participation

The Class of 2006 at Montgomery County’s public schools 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, according to a press release from county schools last month. According to the press release, 56 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.

The historic high levels of achievement for the Class of 2006 stretch across all student demographic groups, the press release said. 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.

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.