Week In Review

September 03, 2006

Annapolis

Carjack suspect faces federal trial

Federal prosecutors stepped in Thursday to announce the indictment of an Annapolis man who police say implicated himself in a 2002 carjacking and killing near the State House but who was freed after Maryland courts threw out his statement to police.

Nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to revive the state's case against Leeander Jerome Blake, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore on charges of first- and second-degree murder, carjacking, and two firearms offenses. He could face life in prison without parole if convicted of the most serious charges in the death of Straughan Lee Griffin.

Though he faced state charges, Blake, now 21, was never tried. The state's case against him ended in November, when the Supreme Court dismissed the state's appeal of a pretrial ruling that favored Blake.

Maryland section, Friday

Anne Arundel

Schools open to many changes

Tyler Heights Elementary and Meade Middle became last week the first public schools in Anne Arundel County, other than charter schools, to require students to wear uniforms. It was only one of several big changes in the school system with the start of the school year.

The $33 million Marley Middle School opened in Glen Burnie, a $10 million air-conditioning system was added to Arundel High School, the International Baccalaureate program was introduced at Meade High School, and many students and teachers got to meet Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, who began his new job July 1.

Advocates of dress codes say dressing uniformly eliminates the social pressures and expense of buying trendy or flashy clothes and encourages children to behave better and get serious about learning.

"There's research that shows a correlation between appropriate dress and academic performance," said Eddie Scott, acting principal at Meade Middle at Fort Meade.

At Meade, the policy is liberal: Students wear navy, khaki or black bottoms and light blue, white or black tops. At Tyler Heights, where the uniform is khaki skirts, skorts, pants or shorts with a navy-blue polo-type shirt or turtleneck, parents were overwhelmingly in favor of uniforms, said Principal Tina McKnight.

"Parents felt that, in the long run, it'd be less expensive, and it would be something to help students keep a focus on learning," she said. "And it would make their lives simpler."

A section, Thursday

Annapolis

Project to preserve a black heritage

The small stucco house at the corner of West Washington and Monument streets in downtown Annapolis is easy to miss. But it's not just any house. It is, according to a local history buff, one of the most significant structures in the city's Clay Street neighborhood.

On his way to becoming a prominent African-American businessman and city alderman, Wiley H. Bates purchased the property in the late 1800s. Bates later sold the house to Richard King, Anne Arundel County's first black lawyer. An all-black high school was named for Bates in the 1930s.

The city will mark little-known sites such as King's humble home and commemorate stories such as his as part of an effort to detail the vibrant history of Clay Street, a historically black community blocks from the State House.

Work on the project began in 2002 but stalled. The effort is being revived with the help of historians and residents who see it as a long-overdue way of recognizing a community that has struggled with urban problems but retains pride in its past. With a $29,000 Community Legacy grant, the city will demarcate a neighborhood gateway at West Washington and West streets and highlight other significant locations.

The city hopes to place the gateway in November.

Maryland section, Wednesday

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