Maryland tackles getting students back into classrooms 

The TPP program was designed to help students avoid becoming truant in Montgomery county, Maryland. Rebecca Marcolini who serves as the director of the TPP (Truancy Prevention Program) with Montgomery County wants to end truancy

TPP is a volunteer program created in 2010 through the state’s attorney’s office to help kids and teens identify what is keeping them from attending school and setting a goal in place for them to reach their full potential. 

Truancy Prevention Program

Students begin the program with an orientation and are in the program for 10 weeks. Those who are 10 to 20 % truant are invited to voluntarily participate in the program that lasts 2 1/2 hours per session and is during school hours. 

The program serves mostly middle school students. Resource officers act as mentors to the students within the program depending on the schools preference if they would like them to help out with the program. 

“This is not like a punitive thing, it’s not like the police are involved to get the kids,” said Lauren DeMarco, the director of public affairs for the state’s attorney’s office. 

Both Marcolini and DeMarco emphasized how in the program students are not in trouble but are here to help those who sign up to help them with attending class and raise their grades. “The essence of this program is to determine what is holding back this child,” said Marcolini. 

To figure out what is holding the child back from coming to school, TPP will bring in a mentor so that the child can discuss what’s going on whether that is bullying, helping out a younger sibling, or staying up playing video games. 

Those who successfully finish TPP get to participate in a graduation ceremony acknowledging the work that students have done in completing the program.

Nonprofit NexxtOne Academy helps students in Washington area through STEAAM programs 

 Geena Young, founder of nonprofit NexxtOne said she wanted to give students in the Washington area an opportunity to transform the communities that they come from. “The reason for starting this organization was to give young people middle and high school students in underserved areas in the District of Columbia an opportunity at an amazing future,” said Geena Young, founder of nonprofit NexxtOne. NexxtOne Academy, founded in 2019, allows Black and Latinx students to explore STEAAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Athletics and Math) programs to further increase interest in those fields. 

Washington, D.C. nonprofit NexxtOne Academy helps students though exploring and learning about STEAAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Athletics, and Math. The academy offers numerous programs such as field trips, an arts scholarship and a speaker series. The scholarship program is offered to high school students.

Montgomery County produces nation’s first Hindu Handbook

“This initiative has been in the works for a while because we’ve noticed as a county with such a diverse population and 16 % of the population identify as Asian we knew that the county needs to understand different traditions,” said Chowdhury. 

Montgomery County, Maryland, has produced the nation’s first Hindu Handbook for healthcare providers to help learn more about Hindu and Jain patients. The handbook was created with the help of Ishani Chowdhury, who serves as the co-chair for the county’s Asian advisory committee. 

The handbook was originally created by Queensland Health and has been adapted to use in the Montgomery County area. Within the handbook readers can find three sections: guidelines for health services, Hindu beliefs and additional resources. 

Queensland Health Handbook edited for the state of Maryland

“In racial bias in medicine you’ll find that currently they’re saying that half the medical professionals believe that those who are Black have a higher pain threshold, ” said Shen, who serves as the Asian liaison for Montgomery County. To help with disparities in medicine the handbook serves a way to help those in the medical field understand the needs of those who are Hindu and Jain. 

“For example if you are in the hospital and you’re vegetarian like my mother was when she was in the hospital in New York their answer was steamed broccoli and carrots or jello,” said Chowdhury. 

The handbook lists the many options that are available as a food source as well as limitations. Jell-O is one of the foods that providers should avoid because of the collagen found in bones of a cow or pig. 

The handbook lists the 14 different types of languages that are most commonly used by Hindus in Maryland and how to contact an interpreter if necessary. 

Chowdhury and Shen have reached out to numerous organizations to spread the word about the handbook.

Montgomery County Council Recognizes Parks and Recreation Month 

Montgomery County council members Andrew Friedson and Gabe Albornoz began the June 11 meeting with a proclamation acknowledging the work that parks and recreation have accomplished this year. 

“I circle this date on the calendar every year because it’s an opportunity for us to acknowledge the incredibly dedicated and professional staff of both departments, ” said council member-at-large Albornoz. 

Council vice president Friedson said the recognition has taken new meaning during and after the pandemic. “We have relied on our parks and on our recreation department to provide wellness, community, and health needs,” said Friedson. 

Directors from both Montgomery County Parks and Department of Recreation chose employees in the organization and highlighted the work that they provide for them. 

Every two years, residents fill out a survey of the services in the county that they appreciate and like the most. Both departments come out in the top three each time the survey is done. 

“This is kind of the Super Bowl season, the summer season for our friends at the recreation center,” said Friedson. 

Albornoz talked about how staff members were at the Germantown Fourth of July event until 2 a.m. making sure people got home safely and got to their cars. 

The recreation department shared a video detailing the work that its employees provide for Montgomery County residents. 

“Our team works extremely hard and is relatively a small team, we have about 2,500 seasonal workers from lifeguards, out of school time, to senior programs you name it they do it, ” said Robin Riley, who serves as the director of recreation for Montgomery County Recreation. 

Members of Montgomery County Department of Recreation. Photo By Liz Thomas

Members of the recreation department who were acknowledged worked in different sectors such as high school, elementary, seniors and camp directors. 

“They are the fuel in our engine and the grease on our wheels,” said Riley. 

Montgomery County Recreation has many programs to offer for residents to participate in. 

Montgomery County Park Director Michael F. Riley said the eight year plan that was developed called “The Big Three.” This plan focuses on developing a world class public athletic field at parks and schools, destination trail network and park activation that focuses on bringing community members of diverse backgrounds together. 

“Historically we have built beautiful parks with beautiful facilities,” said Riley. Montgomery County Parks has over 420 parks across 37,220 acres,102 campsites, 136 picnic areas and 276 playgrounds.

Downtown Bethesda grows

With nearly 200 restaurants, 75 retail stores and living spaces opening up, the downtown area of Bethesda, Maryland known as Downtown Bethesda is evolving into a bustling district. 

The city located just outside Washington has grown over the last couple of years. Bethesda has grown in its population since 2010. According to Census data over 8,000 residents have moved to the Bethesda area in the past 10 years. 

“My job is to figure out understanding what the mix is today if there’s an interest in retail and ground up new development,” said Vanessa Mendoza, who serves as the director of leasing for Bethesda Row, a mixed-use development area located at the intersection of Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road. Within the row, there are numerous restaurants, shops and living spaces that have been added to the area. 

Most recently. Nike opened up its store in Downtown Bethesda on May 25.

Montgomery County Libraries host Summer Reading Challenge 

The Montgomery County Libraries in Maryland kicked off its Summer Reading Challenge with lots of festivities on June 17. The event included music from Ghanaian drummer and storyteller Kofi Dennis, storytime led by Maranda Schoppert of Germantown Library and a meet-and-greet with Read to a Dog service dogs. 

The challenge is offered to provide local kids and teens the opportunity to read books and participate in activities. This year, the theme is “All Together Now,” which was created to promote kindness, friendship and unity within the Montgomery County community. 

The Montgomery County Summer Reading Challenge kicked off June 17. Photo by Liz Thomas. To participate in the challenge kids and teens can login onto the READsquare app or sign up at their local library. 

“Friends of the Library make a donation to the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center and Friends of Montgomery County Animals,” said Tyler Chadwell-English, who serves as the teen services manager for MCPL. 

The animal services and adoption center is one of the six local organizations partnering with MCPL. Partnering with the animal services and adoption center is to help animals find their forever homes. 

Other Organizations partnering with MCPL include the Washington Nationals, Manna Food Services and Montgomery County Parks. 

The Washington Nationals provided vouchers that MCPL will give out to participants who make it to the midway portion of the challenge.

Our Lady of Mercy School hosts 5K and Kids Dash

Potomac, Md. — While schools wind down for the summer and students are getting ready to travel for their vacation, Our Lady of Mercy School in Potoma, ends on a fast note. 

On June 3, 215 people participated in The Mercy 5K and Kids Dash to raise money for the school that would go toward scholarships for students. 

“It’s a fundraiser, the reason we started one was to integrate the community,” said Jennifer Palmiere. 

Palmiere is the marketing and development director at Our Lady of Mercy. She served as the event coordinator for this year’s Mercy 5K And Kids Dash. 

Participants from all ages ranging from 5 to 83 ran a course around the Potomac area. 

Aside from the race there was a dog parade, face painting, music and food. 

The race has multiple categories: Adult male, adult female, 14 and under category. 

Pre-K and after school teacher Maria Chavez won the 5K in her category. 

“I think it went well, I didn’t expect to win. I had a late start,” Chavez said. 

Chavez won in her category in 24:31. About 175 adults participated in the 5K.