CoronavirusCovid-19EducationLocalPrince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

COVID-19 Complicates Final High School, Early College Prep Steps

Tania Charles said the beginning of her junior year of high school at Grace Brethren Christian School in Clinton has been good, even while taking all honors classes.

Besides being the only girl in her pre-calculus class, the 16-year-old student also serves as team manager of the boys’ soccer team and later in the year with the boys’ varsity basketball team.

“I always like to watch the games. I always call myself the team mom and always yell at them off the field,” Tania, who also works as a lifeguard, said Monday, Oct. 11. “I’ll tell them what they’re doing wrong and what they need to fix. It’s fun.”

Tania’s among thousands of high school students in Prince George’s County surviving amongst the coronavirus pandemic.

With some students contracting COVID-19 and Prince George’s continuing to lead the state of Maryland with the most confirmed cases, the usual in-person activities such as homecoming dances have been cancelled. Homecoming football games and other sporting events, book fairs and some student government association activities remain scheduled.

Starting the week of Monday, Oct. 18, unvaccinated student-athletes ages 12 and older must undergo weekly testing.

As COVID-19 continues to linger, life goes on and students must prepare for their future after high school.

With schools closed Monday, Tania joined other students at a youth summit at Glenarden Community Center hosted by Tonya Sweat, an attorney from Accokeek who’s also running for Prince George’s County executive.

Sweat organized presentations by United Negro College Fund headquartered in Northwest, Independent Electrical Contractors Chesapeake of Laurel and the University of Maryland’s Educational Opportunity Center based in Riverdale.

Earl Johnson, educational specialist at the opportunity center, offered several tips such as the difference between the standardized SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACT (American College Test) tests.

The SAT, which Johnson said Blacks “have not historically” done well on, focuses on national education standards. The ACT, he said, presents information tailored to a state’s curriculum.

He advises students to take both tests before their senior year of high school because “you are putting yourself at a disadvantage for college admissions.”

Maya White, a 17-year-old senior at Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, took the SAT this month and plans to take the ACT on Nov. 1.

White wanted to attend a historically Black institution but most in-person college tours had been canceled and weren’t available last summer.

She rode with her grandfather to celebrate his birthday Aug. 30 and visited Georgia State University in Atlanta. After receiving information about the school’s pre-law program, she applied.

In addition, she’s now connected on Tik Tok with one of the school’s law professors.

“Even with COVID going on and having to wear masks all the time, that trip with him was well worth it,” she said.

Although Prince George’s public school students aren’t required to be vaccinated, students must wear masks inside all buildings and buses.

“Just having the masks on all day can wear you out,” said Oluwasemilore Adekanmi, 15, a sophomore enrolled in the science and technology program at Oxon Hill High School. He received a COVID-19 vaccination within three weeks and it became available for his age group.

“We will have Spirit Week the last week of October, so that will be fun,” Oluwasemilore said. “The social and mental aspect of being in school … and face-to-face interaction has been great. I just hope it can remain that way for the rest of the year.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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