School board approves first phase of boundary changes
Apr. 6, 2000
Jen Beatty
Staff Writer




Following pleas from parents and students to delay the vote on proposed boundary changes, the Prince George's County Board of Education Thursday approved the first phase of boundary changes needed to open the new Charles Herbert Flowers High School in September.

After extensive debate over whether or not to include an additional 115 students from the Palmer Park area in the reassignments, the Board approved only the boundary changes necessary to populate Flowers High School when it opens in the fall of 2000. The board delayed the vote on the second phase of changes to allow for additional time to examine boundary options.

Ultimately the board decided not to include the Palmer Park students in the enrollment figures for the new high school. The students instead will attend DuVal High School in Greenbelt.

"It grieves me to have to make the decision that we are going to have to make tonight. I believe that I have been at the forefront of supporting equity...," said Kenneth Johnson (Dist. 6) of Lake Arbor. "The issue at hand is not the new building. The issue at hand is the quality of education that occurs within the walls after our children get there. The facilities at DuVal can provide the same quality education that you can have at a Charles Herbert Flowers."

Board members Doyle Niemann (Dist. 3) of Mount Rainier and Felicia Lasley (Dist. 7) took issue with leaving the Palmer Park students out of the boundary changes. "This is why we have major parts of our county that have terrible facilities. Because they are poor. Because they are underrepresented," said Niemann. "You look at the pattern and that's why we've got DuVal and Bladensburg and Fairmont Heights and schools like that that are in the conditions they are...Because we have systematically underrepresented and cheated poor students. I just think we ought to draw the line and say 'No, we are not going to do this.' Here we've taken a community and deliberately cut in half in a way that is absurd."

According to system administrators, Flowers High School would open at 100.6 percent capacity if the Palmer Park students were included in the boundary change.

However, Lasley said 115 students will not make that much of a difference and that the Palmer Park children were promised they would be able to attend the new school based on the school system's enrollment master plan. "It doesn't make sense logically looking at this map to break up the Palmer Park area. Those students were promised the opportunity to attend the new Flowers High School...," said Lasley.

Both Lasley and Niemann abstained from voting on the proposed boundary changes.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to change the name of Parkway Elementary School in Hyattsville to Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Chavez, a poor migrant worker, founded the United Farm Workers Union and secured groundbreaking contracts protecting farm workers of all nationalities.

Largo High team headed

to regionals of Mock Trial 2000

Largo High School's Mock Trial team has advanced to the state regional match to be held next week. So far, the team has competed against 29 public and private schools from Calvert, Charles, Prince George's and St. Mary's counties.

Following opening and first-round, competition in February, Laurel, Largo, McDonough, Surrattsville, DeMatha, Eleanor Roosevelt, Suitland, and Parkdale high schools survived to compete in the second round during the week of March 13th. The winners of those matches were Largo, Parkdale, DeMatha, and Surrattsville. Largo went on to defeated Parkdale, while DeMatha defeated Surrattsville in the semifinals.

In the Circuit Final on March 23, the Largo Mock Trial team was victorious over DeMatha. The team won the match by only 1 point. The following students were chosen as all stars within their respective categories for their exemplary performances: Atrina Smith of Bowie High School in the defense witness category; Ashley Compton, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jessica Eanes, Chopticon, defense attorneys; Noah Barnes of Parkdale, prosecution attorney; Alex Butler of Parkdale, prosecution witness; Andrea Smith of Largo, overall best attorney; and Myles Harris of DeMatha, overall best witness.

The Largo and DeMatha teams, along with the all stars, will be honored in May at a Law Day luncheon sponsored by the Prince George's Bar Association.

County students

awarded national scholarships

Three Prince George's County students have been awarded National Achievement Scholarships. The students are among 700 outstanding Black American high school seniors of 2,000 who will receive scholarship awards worth a total of about $2.5 million for college.

Danivom Haile and Allison Kirk, both from Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Tiffany Silas of Parkdale High School, each received a $2,000 scholarship.

Oakcrest choir raising money

for Italy performances

The Concert Chorus of Oakcrest Elementary School in Landover has been selected to represent Maryland at the American Celebration of Music, June 14 through 20 in Rome and Florence, Italy.

The Oakcrest Concert Chorus Booster Club and teachers have raised approximately $30,000 through fund-raising activities, but a total of $90,000 is needed by May 15. Tax deductible donations are welcome. Contributions may be sent to principal Jay Teston, 929 Hill Road, Landover 20786. For additional information, call 301-808-8870.

School Notebook reports important events, accomplishments and upcoming meetings at area schools. Items may be mailed to School Notebook, The Gazette, 8201 Corporate Drive, Suite 1200, Landover MD 20785, faxed to 301-731-2141 or e-mailed to jbeatty@gazette.net.