5 students heading for national MESA competition


March 13, 2002|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AFTER WINNING first place in the regional "Try-Mathalon" competition in the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program, five local students will head to Orlando, Fla., this month to compete for the national title.

MESA is sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers. Harold Williams is coordinator for the MESA program in Howard County. Williams, a retired research biochemist and forensic toxicologist, lives in the Running Brook neighborhood.

"MESA is a program designed to attract minority students and young women to the fields of mathematics, science and engineering, but it is open to all students," he said. "There are very few minorities and women in these fields. MESA attempts to address this shortfall."

Williams said the Try-Mathalon is a three-part event that tests students' math skills and their recollection of scientific principles. "First, the students are tested individually," he said. "The second part of a Try-Mathalon is a group engineering project. The third part of the competition is called the Quiz-Bowl, in which students are asked complex mathematical problems."

Members of the first-place team from Howard County are Obioma Ohia and Tjazha Mazhani from Wilde Lake High School; Craig Harvey and Stacey McClurkin from Howard High School; and Dara Foster from Long Reach High School.

Williams said he is proud of the team's accomplishments and enjoys working with the youths in the MESA program.

"The students that I have been working with for the past five years are well-mannered and very focused," he said. "Most of them know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. As a tribute to teachers, these students represent what schools are doing correctly in the education of children."

Howard County's MESA organization will hold MESA Day on April 4 at Schooley Mill Park. Participants will compete in engineering challenges such as the clay boat competition, a straw bridge competition and the naked egg-drop competition.

Information on MESA: 443- 778-5382.

Teen models

Wearing the hottest looks for spring and the prom season, seven girls from Columbia Teen Center's Teen Model program strutted through a fashion show Friday evening at The Mall in Columbia.

The class is taught by River Hill resident Theresa Gargon and her partner, Victoria Tamburo. The women own Dress to Impress, a company that teaches women and girls how to put their best foot forward.

"We started the business because both of us had worked as models and actresses," Tamburo said. "We learned that how we presented ourselves at interviews made a difference. First impressions are very important."

Tamburo lived in Howard County until she moved to Chicago 18 months ago. She makes the commute between Chicago and our town about once a month.

Gargon and Tamburo said their teen modeling classes are more about learning the skills that will enable young women to feel confident than about teaching them how to become professional models.

"We teach the girls how to shop, how to do skin care and how to put their wardrobe together so they can go out into the world and feel confident," Gargon said.

Anisha Mehta, a seventh-grader at Clarksville Middle School, said she learned a lot in the five-week class. "I learned how to take care of my hair, skin and nails," she said. "I got to know myself better during the class and learned how to make myself look better. It makes you feel more confident about yourself."

Information about the Columbia Teen Center's Teen Model classes: 410-992-3726.

Student on state board

Caroline Gifford, a junior at Wilde Lake High School, has been selected as the student member of the state Board of Education for the 2003-2003 school year.

"I'm very excited," Caroline said. "I'm fascinated by educational policy. The idea of making a student voice heard on the state board, and that voice being mine, is really exciting."

Caroline, 16, said that issues on which she is interested in focusing include initiatives to eliminate the minority achievement gap and increasing the effectiveness of Maryland's early-childhood education programs.

Honored at West Point

Cadet Benjamin R. Coffman has been awarded the gold star and gold wreath at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

To qualify for the award, a cadet must achieve the status of Distinguished Cadet, be a winner of the Superintendent's Individual Award, have a grade point average higher than 3.67, and excel in academic, military and physical programs.

Coffman is the son of Miles and Cynthia Coffman of Hickory Ridge village. He graduated from Wilde Lake High School in 1999 and is concentrating his studies at the academy on mechanical engineering.

Distinguished alumni

Howard Community College's Office of Development and Alumni Relations is seeking nominations for this year's HCC Distinguished Alumni recognition program, which recognizes graduates who have achieved distinction in areas such as business, community service, education, law or medicine.

Distinguished alumni for 2002 will be introduced at commencement May 23 and will be recognized at other college events throughout the year. Nominations will be accepted until April 1.

Information: 410-772-4406.

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