Principal's Message from November

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 8:01am

Dear Parents/Guardians:

What exciting and amazing weeks and weekends we have had and will continue to have at the Ridge!  Did you know that MRHS studentsSophie Moock, Angelica Kim, Julie Choi, Mindy Kang & Kristian Parker performed two Sundays ago at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Desegregation of Howard County Public Schools?  What a terrific opportunity for MRHS students to take part in such a historical event!  Our students dined with County Executive Allan Kittleman and were the perfect musical prelude for the celebration of diversity in Howard County Public Schools. Did you know that many students, parents, and administrators attended playoffs or State Championships this weekend?  Did you know that last Monday, the Marriotts Ridge Golf Team went out and successfully defended their state title winning their fourth straight 1A/2A Maryland State Golf Championship?  The team was led by the play of Jackson Courtney, who finished fourth and Bennett Buch who finished eighth. Nick Mejia, John Szymanski, and Katelyn McIlvain rounded out the rest of the team scoring.  Over the course of the season, the Mustangs completed all of their goals, winning both the Boy's and Girl's Howard County titles and the District V Championship.  Congratulations to all of the members of the golf team on a superb season.  The Golf Team will be celebrated by the County Council on December 7th at 7p.m. Did you know that our field hockey team captured the 2A East Regional Championship? It was also Coach Gado’s 100th career coaching win.  If you were unaware of these events, you might want to join Twitterand follow HCPSS and MRHS; we share a great deal of information about MRHS and HCPSS events.  

We sent out many tweets this weekend from several great events.  Congratulations to our Varsity Cheerleaders who came in 3rd place at the State Championships at Harford Community College.  They performed a clean routine that made us all proud!  From a great football game on Friday at South Carroll to an exciting field hockey game at Washington College in Chestertown on Saturday, our student athletes and spectators represented us quite well.  They played hard and gave it their all!  And, I hope you will join me in extending hearty congratulations to Ibrahim Jirdeh and Abby Starks who both placed in the top 25 at the 2A State Championship Cross Country Meet on Saturday at Hereford High School.  It is a very challenging course; therefore, we are extremely proud of these two student athletes.  Congratulations to all of our fall teams, the coaching staffs, and our parents on a great season.  Now we begin our winter season of cheerleading, basketball, wrestling, and indoor track!  Good luck to all of the students who are trying out and best wishes for a successful season.

We also did quite well this weekend at the Speech and Debate tournament at Arundel High School.  Approximately 45 Marriotts Ridge students attended and/or competed in this event; many took medals.  I look forward to hearing more details about those who won.  Ms. Hanon, our sponsor, continues to maintain great pride in our students; they are becoming a powerhouse in our region.  Thus, on November 19th,  Mr. Cayman Giordano who runs the Stanford Public Forum Institute and Ms. Sheelah Bearfoot, who is currently the Director of the UC Berkeley Speech Team will provide our students with a chance to practice and learn about a couple different events. Every student will have a chance to work on impromptu, after which they will split into PF and Extemporaneous electives.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from some of the best Speech and Debate people in the country.

Other groups who represented us well last week were the MRHS Choirs.  On November 11, the MRHS Madrigals traveled to College Park to participate in the University of Maryland 14th Annual High School Choir Invitational. They participated in rehearsals and workshops with Dr. Edward Maclary and Dr. Kenneth Elpus and were able to hear a recital from University opera students. That evening they sang in a concert featuring all 7 of the invited high schools and the UMD Chamber Singers. It was a wonderful way to experience the vibrant School of Music at UMD. Our very own Mr. Aucoin conducted and student Zach Seals rehearsed with over 180 choral students from Howard and Montgomery Counties.  If you follow us on Twitter, you can view some of the performances; they are wonderful!

While groups are representing us well, individual students and staff members are also making headlines.  Congratulations to David Polefrone our November Student Leader-of-the-Month.  Coach Dubbs wrote:  I would like to nominate David Polefrone for Student Leader-of-the-Month.  David is an extremely active student at Marriotts Ridge, who always represents Marriotts Ridge with dignity and class.  I have had the pleasure of working with him for the past three years and this fall have seen David excel in all of his school activities.  He is a member of our high level marching band, playing trumpet.  He also is a very active member of our very successful Speech and Debate team.  Where I know David best, is as a member of our State Champion Golf Team and as the Captain of our "Its' Academic" team.  Since I sponsor both of these organizations, I can easily speak of his accomplishments.  For the golf team this fall, David was our fifth player, who made positive contributions to the team at both practices and in matches.  Through his dedication and hard work, he became a leader of the team. His major individual accomplishment this season was finishing second at the Howard County tournament.  As the Captain of the "It's Academic" team, David led the squad to an impressive win over Gilman and Salisbury Christian Academy at the taping earlier this month.  David worked hard to help put together our team on short notice, as he was the only returner.  His leadership and experience helped calm the rest of the squad, as they worked together to secure the victory. David is well respected by the team members and his leadership will hopefully prepare us further in the tournament.  The It’s Academic show will air on December 19th at 10:00 a.m. on Channel 13, WJZ-TV in Baltimore.  We hope our community will watch the event and join us in congratulating David and our It’s Academic Team.

Join us in congratulating Coach Marcus Lewis who the Baltimore Ravens have honored as the Ravens "Coach of the Week". This is a well deserved honor and great recognition for a coach who has put a lot of time into improving our football program and taking us to the next level. 

Join us in also congratulating Elena Pikounis who is our Athlete-of-the-Week.  Coach Olsen wrote, I nominate Elena Pikounis for Athlete-of-the-Week.  All season long, Elena worked hard, hustling through games and practice, and pushing herself to improve. She is the definition of a team player, always encouraging and supporting her teammates and maintaining a positive attitude. 

Congratulations must also go to Bennett Buch and the Buch family.  On November 11, 2015, Bennett, from the State Champion Golf Team signed his National Letter of Intent to play golf for University of Maryland.  On November 18th, 2015, Mustangs from the Marriotts Ridge Girls Lacrosse Program will be signing their National Letter of Intent which indicates their commitment to a Division I collegiate program.  We have five Mustangs,  Kelly Colegrove (Robert Morris University), Annalise Lower (William & Mary), Carly Miller (UMBC), Lexi Souder (Johns Hopkins University), and Leah Zadjura (Elon University), signing letters this Wednesday.  We will be recognizing them for their efforts and accomplishments in lacrosse as they continue their endeavors in the sport.  Join us in wishing all of these athletes the best of luck.

While athletes are signing letters of intent, our dancers are continuing to improve their craft and perform at various venues.  Junior Dance Company participated in the Morgan State University Dance Festival on Friday November 6.  Students joined high schools from across the state to participate in modern, liturgical, hip hop and African dance classes.  They performed "I Lived" a modern dance piece choreographed by Senior Dance Company member Lexie Cruz.  

While some of our students’ experiences are on college campuses, others are more local.  The GT Intern-Mentor classes are off to a terrific start again this year.  Student Daniel Klawson is interning at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and is writing a research paper entitled, "What are the effects of angle, velocity and temperature on the intensity of the impact flash?" Also, participating in an internship  at the Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Center of Maryland are Ji Soo Woo and Rachel Dubbs. Rachel is asking, "Which treatment (DBS, tangible medication, injections, other) proves to be the most successful method when treating dystonia?" while Ji Soo is asking, "Are psychiatric symptoms (or cognitive impairments) and motor dysfunctions statistically related, and if so, would it be possible to predict the future progression of such symptoms?" Both of these students took an interest in neurology and medicine and used that interest to work with a mentor in designing these research questions.  If you have or your child has an interest in pursuing an internship through the GT Intern-mentor program or if your child would be interested in studying about a topic of their interest in the GT Independent Research class, please make plans to attend the GT Parent Information Night at 7pm on Tuesday, December 8th in the MRHS Media Center.

Congratulations to Mirela Balestino, Kevin Padgett, Emily Suter, Jenny Tao, and Chloe Virden on their Leadership University participation and upcoming graduation.  The students will be recognized at a formal ceremony and presentation on December 8, 2015.  Details will follow subsequent to the graduation ceremony.

Not only are students and staff doing wonderful things, parents are doing some terrific things as well.  Recently, the Volleyball Program raised $322.00 for the Claudia Mayer Cancer Research Center; donations came from parents and spectators at our Dig Pink event.  Thank you to those who donated.  Last week, the parents of our newly created Chinese Parent Organization (CPO), presented a donation of $500 to Boosters and $500.00 to PTSA. Their initiative and donations have forged a cooperative bond between the organizations.  Thank you to Ms. Diane Zheng and the other members of CPO who attended both PTSA and Boosters meetings this past month. We are very pleased with their support and involvement of our school and our students. 

On November 3rd, the Mustang African American Awareness Parent Organization held a Meet and Greet. Ms. Senisi and I opened the event with a welcome and introductions of staff.  Several members of our staff then shared the many successes within our Mustang African-American family and community.   Our student MAAAC members did a fantastic job of organizing the event and gathering families to join us and celebrate with us.   Alexis Williams, Brooke Gordon, Maya Cain, and Kofi Adusei did an excellent job of sharing their experiences as Mustang students and commenting on the value of being focused on school work, staying organized, and working to achieve academic success.   We continue to have successful events thanks to our advisors: Marie Jones, Christine Schmidt, Caryn Hawkins, and our BSAP Liaison Maurislyn Green.  Thanks to all of the parents and other family members who attended this event.

Parent/School relationships and collaboration are extremely important to the success of our students.  Knowledge is power; therefore, it is our hope that you will review the 2014-2015 PARCC Home Reports that were distributed to students during period 3 on Friday or today.  Students who were enrolled in Algebra I, Algebra II, and English 10 during the 2014-15 school year and participated in both the Performance Based Assessment (PBA) and End of the Year (EOY) administrations received a score report.  To help parents read and understand the reports, there will be two parent nights in which HCPSS staff members will provide detailed information about these reports. The first of the two parent nights will be November 16th at River Hill High School; on Wednesday, November 18, the same meeting will be held at Long Reach High School.  Both events begin at 7:00 p.m.; please mark your calendars for this event.

PARCC is not the only recent information parents received.  Last week, our Student Services staff held the annual Next Steps Parent Evening for parents of underclassmen.  The workshops included: Admissions for the International Citizen at HCC; Admissions Tests: PSAT, SAT, ACT and Subject Tests; Career Academies; Career & Technology Education Courses; Finding the Right College Fit; Naviance Resources; The Redesigned SAT; and What Do College Admissions Officers Look For In an Applicant.  From 6:30 – 9:00 p.m., the parents who attended received a wealth of information.  If you have questions or want to learn more about any of these topics, please contact your child’s counselor.

The Redesigned SAT was one of the most current topics presented.  Because parents and students have little experience with the redesigned SAT, we are offering a Practice SAT at MRHS on Saturday, January 23 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  The cost is $15.00 and students must be enrolled by Wednesday, January 20th at 6:00 p.m.  Due to the necessity for advanced notice, we will not be able to accommodate walk-ins on the day of the practice test.  To enroll, visit  For more information, you may or call 800-235-0056.  We hope our students will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to practice for the redesigned SAT.  All proceeds will benefit the MRHS PTSA.

As I stated above, knowledge is power.  Knowledge about your child’s progress in each class is very important; we must work together to facilitate success.  I encourage parents to begin signing up for parent conferences today; the conference schedule opened this morning at9:00 a.m.  The window for scheduling appointments is November 16 – November 21 at 9:00 p.m.; conferences will be held on November 23, 24, & 25.  Teachers have entered their schedules for conference availability.  Some teachers will work one or two evenings and take a half day or the entire day off on Wednesday.  Other teachers will choose to work all three days and not in the evening.  You will find all of this information in the Synergy Conference Management System, which is a change from the previous Pick-A-Time System.  You may log into HCPSS Connect to view and select from the time slots provided by the teachers.  Ms. Beschner has been sending out the link for step-by-step directions in Today’s Topics; please refer to that document for additional assistance.

If you want current information on student events and school happenings, please ask your student for Volume 11, Issue 1 of The Stallion, our school’s newspaper.  Students received their copies of the newspaper on November 10.  For those who would like a copy, you will find them in the front office.  Thank you to our Journalism teacher, Mr. Frank and our Stallion Staff: Editor-In-Chief, Will Becker; News Editor,Faith Schnack; Features Editor, Aaron Chiang; Opinions Editor, Daniel Hatfield; Sports Editor, Nick Sterling; Photo Editor, Madeline Koontz; and our staff writers Allison Sanchez, Carly Miller, Mike Villano, Kendall Jackson, Christina Wang, Colin Kratotchwill, Adi Ranju, Shay Salyer, Emily Paul, Bri Held, Jessica Kumor, Sharon Lee, Simon Kemensten, Casey Brennan, Alex Beigel, Sean Armiger, and Anthony Talentino.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  As I say each year, we have a great deal for which we can and should be thankful.  We live in and our children are educated in Howard County.  We facilitate and insist on teaching excellence and student learning.  Our parents are involved and supportive in academic and extracurricular activities.  We have the opportunity to learn from each other, every day, in a beautiful school and safe environment.  I know that I am thankful for each day that I am able to work and lead in such a wonderful school.  Thank you to all of the administrators, staff members, students, and parents who make each day a pleasure and a joy.  Go Mustangs!


Addie Kaufman, Principal