Patuxent Valley became Howard County's first middle school to establish a chapter of the National Junior Honor Society and inducted 48 students this month.
The program came to Patuxent Valley through the efforts of new Principal Robert Motley, who arrived at the school after working at the high school level, said the group's adviser, Ashley Harig, a counselor.
Amy Simpson, an eighth-grader and president of the school's chapter, said students are excited about the organization.
"We hope to set a high standard and great example for students in the future," Amy said. "It is a lot of fun when everyone is in the same room. ... The society is a way for us to be recognized for our accomplishments because of the requirements to be accepted."
She said the organization will change the academic culture of the school.
"Now that students know this group is available to them, they may want to step it up a notch in their classes," Amy said. "I know that many sixth-graders are eager to apply next year, so the academic culture has already changed slightly. They now have something extra to strive for as a seventh- or eighth-grader."
Running Brook Elementary School held a pageant with a twist.
Eleven girls and nine boys dressed up in gowns and suits to celebrate inner beauty during the school's first "What Makes Me Pretty on the Inside" pageant Feb. 2.
Members of the school's Pretty Girl Inc. - a group of fourth- and fifth-grade girls that emphasizes instilling confidence and life skills in young girls - and members of the Leadership Academy - a group of fourth- and fifth-grade boys that encourages leadership skills, conflict resolution, academics and positive social skills - recited poetry, shared life goals and performed a step routine.
The two groups are part of the school's recent efforts to change the academic and social culture of the school.
"It worked out really well," said Assistant Principal Troy Todd, founder and adviser of the Leadership Academy. "They are really turning around. They really were excited about it."
Todd used the pageant as an opportunity to teach his charges how to tie a necktie; each of the members of the Leadership Academy wore matching black suits and gray neckties.
The mother of teacher Maleeta Kitchen, Pretty Girl's founder and adviser, drove from Delaware to help make some of the girls' gowns.
About 60 people attended the 90-minute program, which included a pizza dinner and parental-involvement recognition by Jean Lewis, a family and community outreach specialist for the school system.
Creating a mural
They painted, fired clay in kilns, assembled finished tiles, and now the students want to show off the finished product.
Atholton Elementary School will unveil a mural depicting a rain forest at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in the hallway outside the school cafeteria.
The mural was created by about 150 fourth- and fifth-graders. It is made up of a series of painted, fired tiles. The students wrote poems that are part of the mural.
The children worked for five weeks with Amanda Pelleron, an artist-in-residence, and Laurie Stewart, an Atholton Elementary art teacher. Pelleron works in conjunction with Young Audiences of Maryland, a Baltimore-based group that exposes schools to professional artists.
An artist-in-residence is a visiting professional who works at a school with teachers for an extended period of time and teaches a series of workshops. The workshops are usually based on the school's curriculum.
"We strive to provide the highest quality program at the lowest possible cost so that any child or school, regardless of their resources, can experience the arts," the Young Audiences of Maryland Web site says.
The school's PTA paid nearly $4,000 for the program.
To choral festival
Meghan Forry, a senior at Mount Hebron High School, has been selected to participate in the All Eastern Choral Festival.
Forry was chosen from among more than 2,000 sopranos from the Northeastern United States. She will travel to Hartford, Conn., for the festival March 8 to 10.
She also has been selected to perform in the All State Mixed Choir.