Kids share Muslim faith in event for educators


November 16, 2008|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,

Samina and Rashid Chotani's Ellicott City home will be relatively silent in the coming weeks, compared with the past month and a half.

That's when up to 42 children gathered each Sunday to prepare for their performance during the third Howard County Public School System Teachers Appreciation Dinner.

The event, held Monday at Toby's Dinner Theatre in Columbia, was sponsored by the Howard County Muslim Council. The program, "Islamic Holidays," was an opportunity for educators in the county to learn more about the Muslim faith. There were a number of plays and songs, speeches and a quiz that tested what the teachers learned.

"It's a night to celebrate, appreciate, educate and to say thank you for what they've done," said Rashid Chotani, the president of the organization.

Chotani recruited Muslim students to share aspects of their culture with educators in the county to promote understanding and education about the Muslim faith.

"Teachers are the core of our society," Samina Chotani said. "The kids are not with us the whole day. Teachers are the house mother and house father. Imagine how much time teachers spend with them. You have to respect the teachers."

More than 300 people attended the event, including Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin and several school board members.

Rashid Chotani said he has received plenty of positive feedback from those who attended the event, which drew the largest crowd to date.

Mount Hebron project

A contractor could be awarded a $52 million renovation project at Mount Hebron High School as soon as February, following state review of the construction plan recently approved by the county school board.

On Nov. 6, the board unanimously approved the construction at the Ellicott City school, and officials are awaiting review and approval from the state before opening up the project to bidding. The contract is to be awarded in February.

Work at the school is expected to begin almost immediately following the bidding process, said Ken Roey, executive director of facilities and management for the school system.

The project is expected to be completed by November 2011. Plans call for adding eight classrooms and more than 60,000 square feet, expanding the width of most hallways to at least 10 feet, and adding more than 500 square feet to the 9,195-square-foot cafeteria. To complete the project, the school would have to use 14 mobile classrooms.

Principal sleeps on roof

Steve Meconi, principal at Northfield Elementary, spent Wednesday night camped out on the Ellicott City school's roof after losing an academic dare to the student body.

The things educators do to motivate their students.

After the students completed a reading challenge that Meconi issued, the principal spent the brisk night underneath the stars.

"We drove by last night at 8 p.m. to say good night," said Debbie Brewster, whose daughter is a fourth-grader. "He was there this morning waving to everybody."

Brewster said the challenge was a great motivator for the students.

"My daughter was reading more than four or five hours a week," Brewster said. "The kids were really excited about it. They wanted to see him suffer a little bit."

Meconi is the latest county administrator to undertake dare-like incentives to motivate students. Swansfield Elementary Principal Jonathan Davis had a date with a dunking booth last year as part of a Maryland State Assessments challenge. At Elkridge Landing Middle, the school held a pep rally and had daily raffles during test days to encourage attendance.

The principals at Cradlerock School (Jason McCoy) and Stevens Forest (Ron Morris) made a bet that the principal of the school with the lower MSA scores will have to do something embarrassing, such as taking a sip of soup made of smelly socks.

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