Student news in Maryland is still being published sluggishly, but we did find a few student news stories that merit mention on these pages.
Sports seasons set to resume under pandemic
The Maryland state superintendent of schools announced this week that fall sports could resume as early as October in public schools, although decisions as to the exact return to play were left up to individual school districts. (Montgomery County will not resume on October 7, for example. Carroll County’s decision is to be determined).
At Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin, just a few miles west of Ocean City, Worcester County students are ready for sports, reports Brittyn Leonard in The Hawk student newspaper. “The space between our practice season and game season will be different, but I’m excited to get back out and play with all my teammates for my senior year,” one soccer and lacrosse standout was quoted as saying.
When students do return to athletic competition, Miller Romm, in Wooton’s Common Sense at Thomas S Wootton High School in Potomac, applauds a change in the school district’s policy statement on “negative criticism” by student fans at an event. “The main issue is not the booing or trash talking, but instead the discriminatory comments. … Instead of simply stating that ‘negative criticism’ is not allowed, [Montgomery County Public Schools] has now changed the announcement to state that ‘all discriminatory acts are forbidden.’ This specific change is important because all students need to understand the difference between fun trash talking and unacceptable hurtful comments.”
Hearts sunk when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on September 18 was a call to mourning for many in America, and for the community at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, where students live no more than an hour from RBG’s home, the news hit particularly hard, writes Aleydis Barnes in The Black & White. “Instead of saying, ‘May her memory be a blessing,’ also say, ‘May her memory be a revolution,'” one junior was quoted as saying. “Let the things that she did and the progress that she made inspire action in all of us to do the same.”
Virtual learning woes
Students in Harford County began the school year online, reports Summer Grace at North Harford High School in Pylesville. One junior told The Cry of the Hawk student newspaper that she does better when she can interact with others. In addition to the technical issues, isolation is a reason often cited, especially by students, for the expected failures of mass online learning. Indeed, officials just weren’t prepared for the pandemic and near-universal closures of our school buildings. And it’s no better this year.
If only our schools could have been as prepared as Netflix was for the pandemic. At Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Grace Burwell describes seven movies about journalism you can watch at home, either by getting the DVD or on a streaming service. Her list in The Tide includes: All the President’s Men, The Post, Spotlight, Zodiac, State of Play, Bombshell, and The Morning Show.
Miss Maryland Agriculture
The Maryland State Fair, as with many state fairs across the nation, was cancelled this summer. But many agriculture contests were still held, some of them in a virtual setting. Kylan Keehan is a junior at North Harford High School, and she was named Miss Maryland Agriculture in what she described as an unexpected interview process. Disappointed she won’t get the opportunity to meet the other contestants, as would happen during a normal year, she still said the experience “really helped me learn how to connect with people virtually,” according to an article by Emily Iampieri in The Cry of the Hawk. “And since a lot of the events I do will be virtual it helped me prepare for them.”
The beat goes on
Finally, despite universal virtual learning and difficult restrictions that have led musicians to grow musically and socially with the help of Zoom in front of a computer screen, one freshman at the Charles E Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville transforms her surroundings “into a world of measures, melodies and musical notes,” writes Nini Panner in The Lion’s Tale. Music has carried students through this difficult time, the school’s band director said: “With other students that have found it challenging because of just general mental health stuff going on around this and that, [some musicians] have found it harder to stay focused, but they’ve stayed taking lessons. I feel like that’s been a lifeline or a mode of support for them even if they haven’t worked on improving their piano that much.”
Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the year, begins in the evening on Sunday, September 27. Many Jews celebrate forgiveness by fasting all day and with intensive prayer, often in synagogues.