The annual visitation



Chances are, at least one top-ranking school system official visited at least one of the 72 county schools on the first day of school.

Members of the school system brass paired with elected representatives and other county officials and toured clusters of schools Monday, a practice that has become an annual ritual.

In addition to school system administrators, state and county elected officials and school board members got in on the opening-day tours.

Among the pairings and the schools they visited:

Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin paired with school board Chairman Frank Aquino. The two visited Howard High, Reservoir High, Cedar Lane School, Lime Kiln Middle, Fulton Elementary, Clarksville Middle and Pointers Run Elementary.

Cousin's chief of staff, Mamie Perkins, accompanied County Council member and former school board chairman Courtney Watson to Elkridge Elementary, Elkridge Landing Middle, Bonnie Branch Middle, Ilchester Elementary and Northfield Elementary.

Ray Brown, the system's chief financial officer, accompanied Councilman Calvin Ball to Stevens Forest Elementary, Deep Run Elementary, Long Reach High, Mayfield Woods Middle and Bellows Spring Elementary.

And Linda Wise, the system's chief academic officer, accompanied council member and former school board member Mary Kay Sigaty to Atholton High, Clemens Crossing Elementary, Swansfield Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, River Hill High and Clarksville Elementary.

State legislators who took part were Sen. James N. Robey and Dels. Gail Bates and Elizabeth Bobo.

Star SAT scores

The Howard County Class of 2008 outpaced the state and national average on the SAT, according to data released Tuesday by the College Board.

Howard County's critical reading scores increased three points from 537 to 540. In mathematics, the increase was from 556 to 557. The most significant gain was in writing, where Howard students' average score increased by seven points, from 537 to 544.

Howard's average combined score of 1,641 exceeded the national average of 1,513 and the Maryland average of 1,498.

"We have become accustomed to our students scoring above state and national levels, but that does not mean we become complacent," Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said in a prepared statement. "Even though our scores are 38 to 50 points higher than the national scores, what is most impressive is we continue to see our scores increase."

A more complete analysis of SAT data, including school-by-school comparisons, will be presented to the school board during its meeting Sept. 18.

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