October 20 // Science Center aims to 'create a spark,' bringing learning, electricity to life in STEM-focused program

Samantha Blau counted down — “three, two, one” — as she held a device emitting electricity on an extendable pole to reach three red balloons floating at the front of the gym at Mount Airy Elementary School. After she placed the device against the balloons, the trio, which were filled with hydrogen, exploded with a loud bang and a ball of fire as students let out cheers of surprise and excitement. And while for many of the kids, the hourlong assembly brought from the Maryland Science Center was a fun-filled break from class, the traveling program was 60 minutes of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, learning. (Carr. Co. Times)

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McDaniel College reflects on past, keeps eye toward future heading into 150th anniversary

McDaniel College alumni are expected to flock to Westminster this weekend for what President Roger Casey has described as a “big party.” McDaniel will celebrate its first 150 years on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20 and 21, with an awards banquet Friday night, and a birthday party all day Saturday with live music, tours, historical games, food, drinks and much more. “We are excited,” Casey said of the weekend’s festivities. "It’s wonderful to be celebrating such a big birthday for the college, and it’s not a milestone a lot of other organizations or businesses get to," he said. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Labor union, UMMC Midtown launch hospital apprenticeship program

A labor union representing health care workers is working with the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus to develop an apprenticeship program to train entry-level hospital employees to fill in-demand patient care jobs. The effort is backed by $70,000 in grant funding, including $50,000 from the Maryland Department of Labor's Apprenticeship Innovation Fund and another $20,000 from the Health Career Advancement Program, a national labor organization. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Commissioners agree to consider possible K-8 facility to replace East Middle, William Winchester

Carroll County’s commissioners agreed Thursday to remain open to the possibility of a new building, different grade configurations and more school closures after the county’s school board reopened the possibility of a kindergarten through eighth-grade facility. The Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, in opposition, to consider the concept of a K-8 facility, though not without caveats. The commissioners agreed to look at a full range of options, including a K-8 facility, so long as Carroll County Public Schools provides a detailed analysis including costs and impact on education. Commissioners also said any direction forward must be accompanied by a plan and timetable for comprehensive redistricting. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Expanding prekindergarten a key goal for Eastern Shore schools

The state’s income threshold for families who qualify for free prekindergarten should be increased by more than 60 percent, a state work group told a legislative panel this week.  A state House and Senate committee weighing universal schooling for 4-year-olds met on Oct. 10 and acknowledged the need for an increase in funding for the early education program statewide. Wicomico County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hanlin has made it clear one of her goals is to provide universal all day prekindergarten to students. She knows reaching students early can help them continue to be successful throughout their educational careers. (Daily Times)

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Severna Park parents protest loss of bus service

A letter sent home with certain Severna Park Middle School students Monday carried a message that has parents concerned for their children’s safety — starting Oct. 30, roughly 30 students attending the school will no longer get picked up or dropped off by a school bus. New transportation routing software revealed that the students actually live inside a mile-and-a-half threshold that makes them ineligible for bus service. Parents from the Sabrina Park community objected to the change at a Board of Education meeting Wednesday. (Capital)

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Washington County Public Schools seniors scored well on college-entrance exams last year

Washington County Public Schools seniors who took the redesigned SATs last year scored above state and national averages, according to data released this week. The most recent test-takers averaged a composite score of 1,081 out of a possible 1,600 points, compared to Maryland's average of 1,058 and the national mark of 1,070. "That’s very encouraging," said Washington County Board of Education member Linda Murray, who chairs the BOE's Curriculum and Instruction Committee. "I think we’re doing a great job preparing students for the ACT and the SAT." (Herald-Mail)

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October 19 // Maryland leads states in suing DeVos over dismantling of rule to regulate career-training programs

A coalition of 18 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over the suspension of a rule issued by the Obama administration that regulates career-training programs. The rule, known as gainful employment, threatens to withhold student aid from vocational programs that have graduates who consistently end up with more debt than they can repay. (Wash. Post)

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