Author Nathaniel Philbrick Wins 2017 George Washington Prize

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Author Nathaniel Philbrick has won the coveted George Washington Prize, including an award of $50,000, for his book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking). One of the nation’s largest and most prestigious literary awards and now in its 12th year, the George Washington Prize honors its namesake by recognizing the year’s best new books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that engage a broad public audience. Conferred by George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Washington College, the award will be presented to Philbrick on May 25 at a black-tie gala at Mount Vernon.

“To have Valiant Ambition recognized in this way means a tremendous amount to me, especially given the extraordinary quality of the books produced by the other six finalists,” said Philbrick. “My heartfelt thanks to the jurors involved in the selection process and to the George Washington Prize’s sponsoring institutions.”

Valiant Ambition is a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick creates a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and of the war that gave birth to a nation. He focuses on loyalty and personal integrity as he explores the relationship between Washington and Arnold—an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington’s unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters.

“Philbrick brings both careful craftsmanship and propulsive energy to his storytelling—a hallmark of all his widely read and acclaimed books,” says Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. “Moreover, Valiant Ambition is also an impressive feat of research: it offers dramatic episodes that have been largely forgotten, such as a naval battle fought by Arnold on Lake Champlain in 1776, which Philbrick turns into a heart-racing adventure story.”

Established in 2005, the George Washington Prize has honored a dozen leading writers on the Revolutionary era including, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton. For this year’s prize, a distinguished jury comprised of notable historians David Preston, Kathleen DuVal, and Nick Bunker, selected the finalists from a field of nearly 60 books.

Mount Vernon’s event on May 25 will also honor the six finalists for the 2017 prize:
T.H. Breen, George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation (Simon and Schuster)
Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing)
Jane Kamensky, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W.W. Norton)
Michael J. Klarman, The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (Oxford University Press)
Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone, Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (University of Oklahoma Press)
Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (W.W. Norton)

ABOUT THE SPONSORS OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON PRIZE

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading nonprofit American history education organization. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

For more information: www.gilderlehrman.org.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. A privately-owned national treasure, Mount Vernon is maintained and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Since purchasing the estate from the Washington family and assuming stewardship in 1858, the Association has embraced a heroic mission to preserve, protect, and maintain the estate for the American people, relying exclusively on private donations, admission fees, and restaurant and retail proceeds. Through robust education and outreach programs, the Association expands awareness about the exceptional life and character of George Washington, sustaining his legacy through research, interpretation, and public education. In experiences on the estate and through its digital outreach platforms, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” For more information: www.mountvernon.org.

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the George Washington Prize, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture, and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. For more information: www.washcoll.edu.

WC’s Dam the Debt Project Provides $325K to Students to Reduce Education Loans

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Washington College President Sheila Bair today announced that the Dam the Debt program will provide $325,581 to reduce the federal subsidized loan debt of 122 seniors who are graduating this May. The grants amount to a back-end scholarship that will award the seniors an average of $2,640, lowering their average federal student loan debt by nearly 10.3 percent.

“When we launched this program last year, it was something of an upstart in higher education, as no college had done this before,” President Bair says. “Now, thanks to our corporate and individual donors who understand the consequences of high student debt, we can continue sending our students into their careers and lives with one less loan to worry about. Hopefully this will enable them to save more, invest sooner, and have more freedom of choice as they move forward into the world.”

Washington College President Sheila Bair

he seniors who qualify for the program have taken out federally subsidized loans for the spring 2017 semester. Through Dam the Debt, those students will receive a grant from the College toward their financial aid package intended to replace the amount of those loans. As a result, the students will see, on average, a 10.27 percent reduction in their total federal loan burden before they even leave campus on graduation day. 

Since its inception in May 2016, the program to date has awarded a total of $659,000 to 252 eligible graduating seniors, with an average grant amount of $2,615.

Dam the Debt is one of several initiatives that President Bair has implemented since her inauguration in September 2015 to make college more affordable and accessible, and to tackle the problem of student loan debt. Funded entirely by donations, the program so far has raised $1.2 million. Among those who have donated to the program are BB&T, bloooom, inc., TD Bank, Santander Bank, Avant, John and Peggy Bacon, and Philip and Joan Riggin.

“We know that when students are burdened by debt, they delay buying homes, cars, and investing for their futures. This becomes a drag not only on them as individuals but on the economy as a whole,” President Bair says. “Anything we can do as an institution to break that cycle, we are working to do.”

In addition to Dam the Debt, the College has launched FixedFor4, which will fix tuition for four years for incoming freshmen, beginning with this fall’s incoming Class of 2021. Last year, the College also announced the Saver’s Scholarship, which will match the amount that families contribute from a 529 college savings plan or an Educational Savings Account, up to $2,500 per year, to pay for their student’s tuition. And through George’s Brigade, another donor-funded program, high-need, high-potential students can receive a full tuition scholarship, in addition to having all of their room and board covered, for four years.

In addition to these new programs, Washington College annually provides more than $23 million in grants and scholarships, with 90 percent of students receiving merit-based scholarships or need-based financial aid.

Learn more at http://www.washcoll.edu/value/ .

 

 

Local Horizons Teacher Randy Decker Wins National Teaching Award

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Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s—a summer academic and enrichment program for underprivileged students—has announced that Middle School Head Teacher, Randy Decker, received the esteemed Lyn McNaught Teaching Award at this week’s Horizons National Conference in Greenwich, CT. The award honors educators who serve as role models for students and colleagues; provide a nurturing classroom environment that recognizes different learning styles; and create curriculum that is creative, challenging, and exciting to the students. At the conference, Mr. Decker was given the opportunity to address the attendees, who come from Horizons locations across the country.

“Randy Decker is an amazing dynamo of teaching excellence,” says Bob Parks, Executive Director of Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s. “He uses every available resource to enrich his students’ learning experiences–from field trips to visits from authors of books the students are reading. Not only has he created an exciting learning environment that keeps students engaged, he has inspired the staff with his commitment to Horizons goals. Randy epitomizes the kind of teacher who makes Horizons successful for students.”

A member of the Horizons family for four summers, Decker started as a fourth grade teacher and soon began sharing his passion for sailing with his students through sailing lessons. In his second summer, Randy designed and implemented a cutting-edge middle school program at Washington College using STEM, LEGO robotics, code.org, and literacy initiatives—enabling students to grow academically and engage in the learning process.

About Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s
Since 1995, Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s has served hundreds of underprivileged children on the campuses of The Gunston School, Radcliffe Creek School, and Washington College. The six-week summer program serves over 150 local children from pre-K through eighth grade, and focuses on reading, writing, and math. Students improve academically, learn to swim, and participate in activities that foster creativity, confidence, citizenship, and good health. Learn more at: http://horizonskentqueenannes.org/

About Horizons National
Horizons National is an award-winning, tuition-free, academic and enrichment program serving low-income, public school students from Pre-K through high school on the campuses of independent schools, colleges, and universities across the country. Started in 1964, and expanding nationally since 1995, Horizons programs now serve thousands of students in 51 sites across 17 states. Learn more at: https://www.horizonsnational.org

Job Shadowing Shows Pathways for Kent County STEM Students

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Kent County sophomores recently got a taste of real world occupations when they visited a variety of local businesses that employ professionals in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Each year, eight leading Kent County businesses open their doors and share their expertise with local STEM students as they begin to make plans for the future.

Chesapeake Architects President, Peter Newlin, explains the importance of discussing personal preferences, lifestyle considerations and functional priorities with each client before beginning the design process.

In order to chart realistic and rewarding career paths, students need a clear understanding of the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of the professions they are considering. That’s where the annual job showing program comes in, by introducing students to a variety of experienced professionals who each describe the daily demands and routines of his or her particular occupation. They also discuss the educational requirements needed, specialty areas within each field, and long-term trends that might affect future job opportunities. The program is a timely resource for students as they begin considering secondary education and the courses they will need.

Students witness an amazing display of power and poise exhibited by a massive robot that was recently purchased by Dixon Valve & Coupling to handle inventory demands.

Kent County STEM students, their parents and teachers are thankful for the businesses and professionals who share their time and resources to make the program a success. Participating businesses included Benchworks, Chesapeake Architects, Chesapeake CNC, Dixon Valve & Coupling, DMS & Associates, Eastman Specialty Corp., University of Maryland Extension and University of Maryland Shore Medical Center.


Civil engineer and partner in DMS and Associates, Kevin Shearon, points out the logistical considerations that had to be addressed prior to the construction of Washington College’s new academic building.

KCMS STEM Science Olympiad Team Earns a Fourth Place Finish

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Photo: 1st row L-R: Molly Grafton, Madilyn Conner, Andrew Smith, Christopher Hinton, Sella Conner; 2nd row L-R: Logan Carroll, Brandon Myers, Thomas Martinez, Emma Walters, Jamera Christy; 3rd row L-R: Matthew Rickloff, Kate Ervin, Marlee Berghaus, Katie Stecklair, Ashlyn Orr, Christine Clark; 4th row L-R: Zane Carter, Melissa MacLeod, KT Pagano, Leah Maier, Olivia Jones, Ian Walters, Jay Reid; Back row L-R: Robert Bourne, Jack Cullum, Ronald Parker, Karen Carty.

Kent County Middle School teachers, Christine Clark, Melissa MacLeod, Katie Hughes, and Karen Carty, along with volunteer Zane Carter, led the KCMS STEM Science Olympiad team to a fourth place win at the state tournament on Saturday, April 9th.

The team had earned a place in the state tournament by earning 5th place in the regional tournament on Saturday, February 10, 2017.

According to the national Science Olympiad Organization, “The Science Olympiad Tournament is the pinnacle of achievement for the state’s best Science Olympiad teams. Each year a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology.” Source: https://www.soinc.org/

This year KCMS students participated in a wide range of events, from designing their own experiments to creating a working hovercraft. These events required students to work cooperatively on rigorous hands-on learning challenges. Countless hours went into preparing students for their events. Each day they worked during their Extended Learning Time at KCMS, in addition to expanding their knowledge and refining their project-based building creations at home.

State Results:
4th Place in the State
Experimental Design- 2nd Place: Ashlyn Orr, Katie Stecklair, and Logan Hall
Crime Busters- 5th Place: Madilyn Conner and Thomas Martinez
Dynamic Planet- 1st Place: Molly Grafton and Marlee Berghaus
Invasive Species- 3rd Place: Brandon Myers And Leah Maier
Road Scholar- 2nd Place: Thomas Martinez and Robert Bourne
Food Science- 5th Place: Ashlyn Orr and Katie Stecklair
Rocks and Minerals- 6th Place: Jamera Christy and Leah Maier
Wind Power- 6th Place: Andrew Smith and Robert Bourne
Fast Facts- 5th Place: Andrew Smith and Thomas Martinez
Meteorology- 3rd Place: Madilyn Conner and Marlee Berghaus
Optics- 4th Place: Robert Bourne and Logan Hall
Towers- 5th Place: Robert Bourne and Logan Hall
Hovercraft- 3rd Place: Jamera Christy and Leah Maier
Mission Possible- 2nd Place: Brandon Myers and Thomas Martinez
Bottle Rocket- 1st Place: Andrew Smith and Matthew Rickloff

Regional Results:

5th Place in the Region
Bottle Rocket- 1st place- Andrew Smith and Ian Walters
Mission Possible- 2nd place- Thomas Martinez and Brandon Myers
Experimental Design- 3rd place- Katie Stecklair and Ashlyn Orr
Towers- 3rd place- Ian Walters and Robert Bourne
Food Science-3rd place- Katie Stecklair and Ashlyn Orr
Crime Busters- 3rd place- Thomas Martinez and Nathan Walls
Write-it, Do-it- 3rd place- Matt Rickloff and Brandon Bowman
Wind Power- 4th place- Robert Bourne and Andrew Smith
Scrambler- 4th place- Sella Conner and Emma Walters
Crime Busters- 4th place- Lydia Davis and Madilyn Conner
Anatomy and Physiology- 5th place- Robert Bourne and Andrew Smith
Towers- 5th place- Logan Carrol and Tennant Allen
Fast Facts-6th place- Andrew Smith and Thomas Martinez
Dynamic Planet- 6th place- Molly Grafton and Marlee Berghaus
Hovercraft- 6th place- Jamera Christy, Leah Maier, Kate Ervin, and KT Pagano

Lawmakers Override Hogan’s Protect Our Schools Act Veto

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Maryland lawmakers voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that would specify which measures could be considered when determining a school’s quality, prohibiting student testing from being one of them.

The bill restricts the state’s ability to intervene in failing schools, which opponents worry is intended to limit the creation of charter schools and voucher systems.

The House of Delegates passed the override of the governor’s veto 90-50, and the Senate passed it the same day, 32-15.

Hogan, a Republican, vetoed House Bill 978, known as the Protect Our Schools Act of 2017, Wednesday, saying the bill weakens school accountability, according to a release from the governor’s office. In the press release, Hogan urged legislators to put aside politics and sustain the veto.

The Maryland State Board of Education and the Maryland State Department of Education have sided with the governor in opposition to this bill, according to the release.

Thursday morning, advocates for the bill gathered at a rally to call for an override. Those present included representative from the Maryland State Education Association, the Maryland Parent Teacher Association and some lawmakers.

The bill would help accommodate the needs of the students and allow parents to be involved in the process, Delegate Mary Washington, D-Baltimore, told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “We need to do more to end disparities (in education) … we cannot do that giving control to the state,” Washington said.

Bill Sponsor Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, acknowledged the common goal that both sides of the argument shared. “I’m glad we can agree every kid deserves a good education,” Luedtke said on the floor.

Although the State Board of Education opposes the bill, people who are involved in the everyday lives of children, like teachers and parents, support the bill, according to Luedtke.

Multiple delegates opposed to the bill referred to it as a “status quo” initiative on the floor, saying the bill will not bring any noticeable change that would benefit students.

Delegate Nicholaus Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, the House minority leader, said on the floor that this bill is not complicated.

“It traps students in failing schools and lessens accountability in the bureaucracy in education,” he said. Kipke made a point to say the legislation is regressive and takes tools away from the state.

Since both chambers voted to override the governor’s veto, the bill will become law July 1.

By Cara Newcomer

Mary Ball Washington and the Challenges of Writing Women’s History

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20170325_maryballwashingtonMary Ball Washington, the Mother of our Founding Father, has received considerable historical attention, but little of it is accurate and much of it is gratuitously hostile. Most of her letters have disappeared, and she left no diary or commonplace book. The stories that have made their way into print about her tell us more about their authors than Mrs. Washington.

In this talk, Martha Saxton, the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience’s 2017 Patrick Henry Fellow, will share new research about Mrs. Washinton’s life and discuss various difficulties inherent in writing about women in this period of history.

This program is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kent County and Kent County Public Library. Refreshments will be served. For more information, visit kentcountylibrary.org or call 410.778.3636.

Saturday, March 25 | 11am
Chestertown Branch

New Career and Technology Scholarships Available

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midshore scholarship

Mr. Haines Holt and some of the 2016 Roberta B. Holt and Roberta B. Holt Trades Scholarship Recipients (Joniya Copper, Madison Bee, Hunter Joseph, Priya Patel, JamieHetrick).

The Mid-Shore Community Foundation has announced new scholarship opportunities for the 2017/18 Academic Year.  Thanks to generous donors, Career and Technology Scholarships are now available to students in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties.  Area students planning for career and technology fields are invited to apply.  Applications must be completed online at www.mscf.org and the submission deadline is March 31, 2017.  For additional information contact the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, The Bullitt House, 102 East Dover Street, Easton, Maryland 21601, (410) 820-8175.

Creative Time for Grown-Ups: Happiness Hour Returns to KCPL

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201703_happinesshourWhether you describe yourself as an artist or haven’t attempted art since elementary school, Happiness Hour is an invitation for you to explore your powers of creativity. No special talents or previous experience is needed to join us for an hour of dabbling in crafting.

This month, our featured project is Bookmark Collages. We’ll create tiny collages and turn them in to one-of-a-kind bookmarks.

Supplies for coloring will be available, too. As always, you are welcome to bring your own creative project – knitting, drawing, embroidery, and other easily-portable activities all work well at Happiness Hour.

Swap ideas, give encouragement, and leave a little happier than you arrived.

This program will be held at the Chestertown and North County branches. Please register for your preferred session online at kentcountylibrary.org or by calling 410.778.3636.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | 6pm | Chestertown Branch
Saturday, March 18, 2017 | 11am | North County Branch