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This Week in Potomac: Aug.29, 2012

First Day of School

— “We know how special … opening day is,” said Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr.

During a Board of Education meeting last Thursday, Aug 23 in Rockville, Starr discussed the preparation necessary to have schools ready for opening day.

“Some of that work is visible — you see the buildings — some of that work is invisible. Everybody pitches in,” Starr said.

For example, approximately 800 new teachers were hired during the summer, 14.8 tons of equipment were delivered to schools to get ready for opening day, and 13,000 pounds of supplies were distributed to families in need, according to a short film presented during last Thursday’s meeting.

“There is lots and lots and lots of activity involved in getting ready for opening day,” said MCPS Chief Operating Officer Larry Bowers. “By the time children go to school on Monday, schools will be ready to go.”

Montgomery’s Gold

Katie Ledecky, the women’s 800-meter freestyle gold medal Olympian, and Bethesda’s Scott Parsons will be honored by Montgomery County Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Ledecky attends Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team, according to the Team USA website.

She won the gold medal over defending Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain (bronze) and Mireia Belmonte Garcia, of Spain (silver) and 2008 bronze medalist Lotte Friis of Denmark.

Montgomery County Isiah Leggett will present certificates to Ledecky and men’s slalom kayaker Scott Parsons at a reception honoring the 2012 Montgomery County Olympians. The county is scheduled to hold the event at the County Executive’s Conference Room in the Executive Office Building on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 4 p.m.

“I had a great experience in London and so much fun,” Parsons wrote on his facebook page on Aug. 13.

Parsons, 33, lives in Bethesda, and according to Team USA, his family took kayak lessons at the YMCA. Parsons finished first in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials before this summer’s Olympics.

He placed 6th at Athens in 2004 and was the 2004 USA Canoe/Kayak Male Athlete of the Year.

David Banks, who graduated from Winston Churchill High School in 2001 and played basketball and track, competed in London on the men’s eight-boat rowing team. Banks, 29, began rowing while attending Stanford University. He has been on the U.S. national rowing team four years, according to U.W. Rowing.

Julie Zetlin, 21, a rhythmic gymnast, was the solo American competitor in rhythmic dancing.

Banks and Zetlin were unable to attend the Montgomery County ceremony, according to Montgomery County press release.

Ledecky started swimming at 6 years old at Palisades, off Seven Locks Road. She swims two and a half to five hours a day, swimming 8,000 meters a day, according to USA Swimming.

— Ken Moore

Flora Singer Elementary

Flora M. Singer Elementary School opened Monday, Aug. 27 on Hayden Drive in Silver Spring.

Flora M. Singer was a Holocaust survivor, Potomac resident and former teacher at Cabin John Middle and Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Walt Whitman high schools.

The Board of Education made its decision to name a school after Singer on May 8, 2012.

“The first word is overwhelmed,” said Sandra Singer Landsman, Flora Singer’s daughter. “Needless to say, our entire family humbled and delighted.”

The school will serve the Einstein High School area.

Flora M. Singer’s parents fled their homeland in Romania in the 1920s to escape rising anti-Semitism, settling in Belgium. Singer and her family were forced underground when Nazi Germany annexed Belgium in 1940.

Singer’s memoir, “Flora: I Was But a Child,” was published in June 2007. The book brought together stories and memories that Singer used throughout her life to teach about the history of the Holocaust.

“She felt compelled to share all that she experienced and witnessed,” said her husband Jack Singer at a Potomac Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony in 2007 when Flora Singer was named Potomac’s Citizen of the Year.

Safety Tips

Fire Chief Richard Bowers of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service issued his own back to school safety report, available online at www.mcfrs.blogspot.com.

“Be on the look-out for kids at intersections and in roadways,” said Bowers. “Drivers are reminded to put their cell phones down and refrain from talking or texting while driving.”

Bowers reminds motorists that they are required to stop when red lights on school buses are flashing. Speeding in a school zone can incur a fine up to $1,000 and five points on a license. Passing a school bus with flashing red lights can incur a fine of $570 and three points on one’s license.

Tips for drivers, include:

  • Taking extra time when making a right turn on a red light — a dangerous situation for pedestrians.

  • Slowing down in residential neighborhoods and around schools. Motorists should be alert for student pedestrians when backing cars out of driveways or garages.

  • Expecting delays near schools and to plan ahead.

  • Being alert for bus routes that change each year. Many children are traveling on a bus for the first time.

Parents are reminded to:

  • Assess and be realistic about children’s pedestrian skills. Consider whether a child is ready to walk to school or to wait for the bus without adult supervision.

  • Teach children to cross the street at corners and to use traffic signals and cross walks.

  • Teach children who ride bikes to schools to obey the rules of the road and to wear a helmet.

  • Make sure a child knows his or her phone number and address, the work phone number for parents, and when to call 911 for emergencies.

Under Maryland law 5-901, children under eight years old are not allowed to be in a dwelling, building, enclosure or motor vehicle out of sight of the person in charge, according to Bowers, unless the person in charge provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child.

Honoring Fallen Ranger

The Margaret Anderson Memorial 5K and walk is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 8 on the C&O Canal's towpath, from Antietam Campground to the Rumsey Bridge near Shepherdstown, W.Va., at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Proceeds will be donated to Margaret Anderson’s family for the care of her two young daughters.

Anderson was a law enforcement park ranger stationed in the Palisades District of C&O Canal National Historical Park from 2004 to 2008.

She was shot to death New Year’s Day 2012 when she confronted a 24-year-old man who didn’t stop at a vehicle inspection station to check for snow tires and chains at Mount Rainier National Park. At that time, park rangers didn’t know that the assailant had shot four other people and was attempting to elude law enforcement when Anderson confronted him.

Pre-registration costs $20 and is available on the Canal Trust website: http://www.CanalTrust.org/MargaretAndersonMemorial5K.

The race will begin at 9 a.m.

Parking and registration packet pickup will take place from 7—8:30 a.m. at Ferry Hill Plantation in Sharpsburg, Md. Participants will be shuttled to the Antietam Campground (C&O Canal mile post 69.4). An after-event gathering will take place at the conclusion of the race at Ferry Hill.

For more information, contact Race Director Tom Shantz at 304-676-3257.

— Ken Moore

Fall Recreation

Montgomery County Recreation announced its fall guide for programs, which includes a variety of sports leagues and classes programs, as well as several opportunities for travel. The county offers therapeutic recreation services and programs for seniors and people with disabilities, too.

To view the fall guide online, see www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec. Print copies are available at recreation centers, park facilities, libraries and government buildings. Mailed subscriptions can be obtained by signing up on line.

Residents are encouraged to register early since many programs fill quickly. Sign up online, by mail, by fax or in person at the Montgomery County Recreation Administration Offices at 4010 Randolph Road in Silver Spring.

Great Falls Stewards

The Park Service and Canal Trust seek volunteers to come to Historic Great Falls Tavern on Sept. 22 and Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers, 12 and older, will paint, rake, clean and clear debris from the Tavern and the surrounding areas.

For more information or to sign up, contact Becky Curtis at 301-745-8889, or email her at volunteer@canaltrust.org.

High school students can receive Student Service Learning hours.

Park After Dark

Last year’s inaugural Park After Dark sold out. Tickets for this year’s event on Oct. 13 will benefit the C&O Canal National Historic Park.

The grounds of the historic Great Falls Tavern in Potomac will be the setting for an evening under the stars around the bonfire, listening and dancing to music and enjoying food and beverages. Silent and live auctions with special "experience packages," will be offered.

See www.canaltrust.org to purchase tickets. A portion of the ticket price is tax-deductible. For more information or to become a sponsor, contact info@canaltrust.org.

Democracy in Action

The Montgomery County Board of Elections seeks students from sixth grade through senior year of high school to serve as Election Day Student Aides during the 2012 Presidential General Election.

Interested students will be required to attend training with their guardians and will be placed on Election Day in neighboring precincts according to their home addresses, The effort would qualify as Student Service Learning credits.

The election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

Students with bilingual and American Sign Language skills are encouraged to apply.

Register before Oct. 1, 2012 at www.777vote.org.

Fluent Election Judges

The Board of Election also seeks election judges who are fluent in Spanish.

Election judges must be U.S. citizens, registered to vote in Maryland, and 18 years or older. Election judges must also be able to speak, read and write in English. Montgomery County residency is not a pre-requisite to serve.

All election judges will be compensated for training and for Election Day service.

Contact the Board at 240-777-8532, download an election judge questionnaire from www.777vote.org or e-mail Dr. Gilberto Zelaya at gilberto.zelaya@montgomerycountymd.gov.

C&O Canal 5K

During his sophomore year in high school, Gregory Picard organized the Runners for the C&O Canal (Run 3.1 Miles … Preserve 184.5!) to benefit the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Last fall, the inaugural race raised more than $1,200 to support the park (nps.gov/chch) and its non-profit partner, The C&O Canal Trust (www.canaltrust.org).

This year’s race begins Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8 a.m. at Meadowbrook Park (Candy Cane City), 7901 Meadowbrook Lane in Chevy Chase, and follows flat shady trails through Rock Creek Park.

See canaltrust.org or the race website at cando5K.weebly.com

Get Involved: County Committees

The County Executive seeks applicants for a number of county boards, committees and commissions, including the Adult Public Guardianship Review Board, Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection, Advisory Board for Montgomery Cares Program, Commission on Veterans Affairs and the Citizens Review Panel for Children, Commission for Veterans Affairs, Solid Waste Advisory Committee and Water Quality Advisory Group.

See www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/exec/vacancies

Applications consisting of a brief cover letter, resume and contact information should be sent to County Executive Isiah Leggett, 101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor, Rockville, Md. 20850 or by email to countyexecutive.boards@montgomerycountymd.gov

Members of such committees may not serve on more than one group at any given time. Appointments are subject to confirmation by the County Council.

Honoring WWII Veterans

World War II veterans will be honored Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the Silver Spring Civic Building at One Veterans Plaza. County Executive Isiah Leggett, Council President Roger Berliner and the County Council will lead ceremonies starting at 10:30 a.m.

Speakers will include veterans who served in various aspects of World War II.

The county’s public cable television channel will simulcast the event life. In addition, the PEG Network will be recording the stories of many of the veterans for a documentary that will first be shown on Veterans Day.

Montgomery Honors WW II Vets event organizers seek contact with more veterans. Call 240-777-7929.

Compiled by Ken Moore