River Hill sophomores want to stay put


October 11, 2001|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

RIVER HILL High School sophomore Andrew Acs is not happy with the Howard County Board of Education, and he's telling everyone. The well-spoken 15-year-old Clarksville resident is mounting a campaign to stop the school board from moving current River Hill sophomores to the new Reservoir High School next fall.

Andrew started working with Aaron Llanso, another River Hill sophomore, in August to get support from students and community members to keep the entire Class of 2004 at River Hill. Aaron put together a professional-looking Web site where the pair collect signatures and disperse information.

"The first year of a school, nothing is too sure," Andrew said. "There could be so many flaws, schedule conflicts and classes not being offered. They are messing with the academics when they move kids in their junior year. It's a tough transition for the students moving."

Most days, Andrew goes to Giant Food in Clarksville and stands for hours asking people to sign his petition in support of keeping all juniors at River Hill.

He credits other sophomores who have helped him collect signatures. Daniel Brown, John Miller, Jeff Chen, Ben Shuey and Vishal Panchall all support Andrew's cause, even though some of them will not be leaving River Hill.

"It's about maintaining the integrity of our class," Andrew said. "We all want to stay together."

Andrew is not sure where he will be next year - possibly Reservoir or Atholton High. However, he is committed to showing the community and the board that it's not just numbers and dollars at stake.

"There's more to a high school education than academics," Andrew said. "This is heartfelt. That's why I'm trying to get involved. I want to tell the board to stop messing with my life. We're not going to tolerate them randomly throwing us around.

"I'm proud to be in River Hill. I love it."

Andrew is not the only person who has started a petition to keep juniors at River Hill. Parent Susan Share of Columbia also is circulating a petition. She feels strongly that the students should not be divided at a crucial time in their education, and she draws on her experience.

In 1999, when Lime Kiln Middle School opened, some members of the Class of 2004 moved to Lime Kiln as eighth-graders, after two years at Clarksville Middle.

Share's daughter Melanie moved to the new school then. "So many things were not up and going for a long time," she said. "That eighth-grade class missed out on a lot."

"It is unfair that they should be divided again," Share added. "These juniors don't really have time to wait around for everything to get going."

Andrew also relocated at that time. He said he saw "grades drop and attitudes suffer" because of the move. His message to the board and the community is stated on the Web site. "We, the class that wasn't allowed to graduate middle school together, are being ripped away from our friends and home school, FOR A SECOND TIME," it states.

The Web site requests that the "Class of 2004 to be allowed to stay together at our home school for our entire high school career."

Share agrees. "A lot of students have established a rapport with teachers and counselors that will be broken," she said. "This country is very unstable now. The last thing these kids need is to be stressed by this move.

"What are these kids going to remember about high school - that it was crowded, or that they were uprooted and separated from teachers and friends?"

Andrew says the board has been callous and unfeeling about moving kids around in the county. "As soon as I can vote, I know exactly who I'm not going to vote for," he said.

Share agrees. "This is more emotionally difficult on these kids than the school board recognizes," she said.

Visit Aaron and Andrew's Web site at http://www.geocities.com/NORESERVOIR.

Student honors

Suneel Bhat, James Lee, Jigya Want, Britt Boras, Adnan Sheikh and Shelby Yu of River Hill High School were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists .

These students earned the honor based on scores on the PSAT taken last October. They will now submit transcripts, essays, and recommendations to move to finalist status.

Another 18 seniors were named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Congratulations to Karl Balsara, Richard Buck, Adrienne Criss, Daniel Deremigis, Laura Kalb, Marie LaFerriere, Alexandra Landis, Philip London, Jeffrey Marquart, Matthew McKnight, Joshua Miles, Megan Morales, Amy Roberts, Benjamin Schwartz, Weijie Si, George Sirois, Stephen Tung and Caroline Wollen.

For River Hill High School information, visit Principal Scott Pfeifer's homepage at www.riverhill.org/principal. The Web site, updated weekly, contains the most up-to-date information about the school.

Genealogy research

Learn how to research your ancestry at "Genealogy: Digging Deeper," to be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Glenwood library. Find out how to use Internet message boards, user groups and search engines to put together your family's story.

The library is at 2350 Route 97, Cooksville. Registration: 410-313-5577.

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