County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Prince George's County Public Schools Superintendent Millard House II tour the remodeled Drew Freeman Middle School in District Heights. (Courtesy of the Office of the County Executive)
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Prince George's County Public Schools Superintendent Millard House II tour the remodeled Drew Freeman Middle School in District Heights. (Courtesy of the Office of the County Executive)

County Executive Visits Newly Reconstructed Drew-Freeman Middle 

Six new schools – primarily middle schools – are planned to open this upcoming school year. The new schools are expected to serve roughly 8,000 students per year. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) hosted a walk-through of Suitland’s Drew-Freeman Middle School on July 31 with incoming Superintendent Millard House II to show the public the completed project. 

“We have such great news today. It’s been very exciting to have the opportunity to tour this beautiful new Drew-Freeman school,” said the county executive before thanking Drew-Freeman Principal Natasha Kyler for her leadership and her partners for helping prepare the building. “We are also so excited to welcome the leadership of Dr. House.” 

Alsobrooks believed the school construction projects were essential as 40% of PGCPS buildings were over 40 years old when she took office. She touted the public-private partnership, the first of its kind in the nation, that allowed the schools to be built so quickly and noted that traditional school construction projects take 12 or more years. Drew-Freeman was built in less than three years. She also applauded the role of minority businesses in the project, with the county exceeding their 30% MBE goals.

“To lead a school built in the 21st century is very exciting,” Kyler said. “At Drew-Freeman, students can dabble in our performing arts classes and enter a growing, avid program that will help our scholars with their career interests. We are also adopting a new autism program that will provide the necessary skills to ensure success for future students.”

The other schools opening this school year are Hyattsville Middle School, Landover’s Kenmoor Middle School, Adelphi’s Sonia Sotomayor Middle School, Capitol Heights’ Walker Mill Middle School and Fort Washington’s Colin L. Powell Academy. 

The first day of school will be Aug. 28 for PGCPS students. The second stage of school construction is expected to bring an additional eight schools to the county.

Laurel MARC Station to Close For 10 Weeks

The Laurel MARC station, part of the Camden MARC line that links Union Station in Washington, D.C. to Camden Park in Baltimore only during the weekdays, is closing from Monday, Aug. 21 to Sunday, Oct. 29. Laurel MARC riders should temporarily switch to the Muirkirk station during this time. 

The 10-week closure is planned to replace both platforms, stairs and ramps at the MARC stop. According to the Maryland Transit Authority, this 10-week closure is a much quicker repair option than shutting down one platform at a time. 

Some of the other potential improvements to MARC that the General Assembly have discussed include expanding a commuter rail tunnel leading into Baltimore Penn Station and expanding the MARC line to Alexandria and into Delaware. 

Local Seventh Grader Wins Second Annual Civics Bee

Gianna S., a seventh grade, homeschool student from Prince George’s, recently won the Maryland Chamber Foundation’s 2nd Annual National Civics Bee at Coppin State University. She was one of 11 contestants.  This is not Gianna’s first time placing in the competition, as she came in second at the inaugural bee. Alongside her trophy, she won a check for $1,000 and a brand new laptop. 

Oluwatomisn A., an 8th grader from Loch Raven Technical Academy in Baltimore County, was awarded second place and Andrew S., an 8th grader from Arundel Middle School in Anne Arundel County, awarded the third place prize. The top three students each earned cash prizes, and all 11 finalists were awarded laptops in recognition of their exceptional efforts.

The event was sponsored on June 17 by Amazon and hosted in collaboration with the Baltimore County, Greater Crofton, Howard County, and Frederick County Chambers of Commerce.

Judges and guests included Maryland State Board of Education President Clarence Crawford, Baltimore County Delegate Dana Stein (D– District 11) and Comcast Director of Government and Regulatory and External Affairs Tami Watkins. 

“We are thrilled to continue fostering civic engagement and empowering students through the National Civics Bee, an annual competition aimed at encouraging more young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities,” said Whitney Harmel, executive director of the Maryland Chamber Foundation and executive vice president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. 

“By encouraging students to learn about government and civic involvement, we aim to help tomorrow’s leaders cultivate a passion for democracy and active participation in their communities.” 
Learn more about their organization here.

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