2The Warrior • NewsNovember 2, 2023It’s Academic Tests Students Knowledgeby Randy Wang ‘24Testing Platform IssuesLead to PSAT Shutdownby Katie Ng ‘25The College Board built a month-long testing window foradministering the PSAT. Sherwood planned to administer thetest on October 11 but had to reschedule it for October 24 due tochallenges on the College Board’s testing site. The College Boardreleased a statement apologizing for the late start to testing andinconveniences to school operations. Luckily, the makeup PSATwent smoothly.On October 11, the College Board PSAT testing platform beganexperiencing issues. A surge in traffic caused schools to delaytesting or remain unable to start. Consequently, MCPS centraloffice reached out to schools and advised them to stop due to theissues with the testing platform. At 9:15 a.m., other schools in thenation resumed testing. The majority of MCPS schools did notresume testing.“Based on the guidance from [the] central office, and continueddifficulties accessing the testing platform by both studentsand teachers, Sherwood leadership determined it was necessary toshut down testing on the morning of 10/11,” said Assistant PrincipalGraham Lear.MCPS Joins LawsuitAgainst Social Mediaby Liam Trump ‘24Frantz Law Groups announced MCPS has recently joinedmore than 500 different school districts in suing social mediacompanies such as Snapchat, TikTok, and Meta. SurroundingMaryland school districts such as Prince George’s, Cecil, andCarroll counties have since become involved in the suit. The lawsuitalleges numerous social media companies have caused mentaland emotional harm as seen in higher proportions of anxiety,depression, thoughts of self-harm, eating disorders, body dissatisfaction,and low self-esteem among children and adolescents.The suit seeks financial damages to go towards staffing andresources to lessen the costs that school districts are experiencingdue to the crisis. In response to the lawsuit, social media companieshave pointed out how they have features and parental controlsmeant to mitigate these problems. TikTok, for example, hasnoted their age-restriction features, YouTube has pointed to howit allows parents to set time limits, and Meta, which owns Instagram,mentioned how it has more than 30 tools that supportteens through age verification software and notifications that takeregular breaks. Just in May of this year, however, U.S. SurgeonGeneral Vivek H. Murthy issued a statement that went over howextensive social media usage can lead to a child having a higherrisk of poor mental health.MCPS Paying for AllAP Examsby Aspen Weinberg ‘25For the first time beginning this school year, MCPS is nowcovering all fees relating to the Advanced Placement (AP) exams.The decision comes at a time when the cost of AP examshas been rising in recent years, with the College Board currentlycharging $97 per exam. At such a sticker price, somehigh-achieving students could pay nearly a thousand dollars forAP exams by the time they graduated.Many students have found the recently rising exam fees tobe inaccessible even with financial aid. Concerned that studentswould opt out of taking the exam solely because of the costs,MCPS made the decision to fully fund AP exams for studentsenrolled in one or more courses.When students previously paid for their AP exams, a portionof those funds went back to schools to help offset the costsof paying for support staff and proctors to give the exams. It isunclear at this time how MCPS will provide other funding forthese efforts. Math teacher Rebekah Byerly, who is the AP coordinatorfor Sherwood, said that the school has funding reservesfrom previous years of testing and will have enough money topay proctors for the exams in May this school year, as well aspaying substitutes for covering classes that teachers proctoringwill miss.With no requirements such asGPA or specific classes, studentsfrom all grade levels can competeand answer trivia questions in theIt’s Academic club. These competitionsare often featured on TV,with Sherwood facing off againstdifferent schools within MCPSand around the area.The club meetings are heldevery Wednesday after schoolfrom 2:30 to 4:00, where theclub applicants go through practicequestions for their competitions.The TV competitionsare held on NBC4 Washington,where 81 schools compete in thesingle-elimination tournamentin groups of three. Only threeschools compete each show. Thegoal of the show is to answer correctlyand quickly to the questionsgiven by the show’s host. Somequestions include guest questions,where notable people in thegovernment, business, sports, orarts may come onto the show toask a question. The club also participatesin off-TV competition,the MCPS Academic BeltwayLeague, where there may be anunlimited number of contestantscompeting four at a time. Sherwoodwon the 2020-2021 season,beating Rockville.“It’s Academic’s purpose isto give students who like triviaand game shows a place to competeagainst other like-mindedstudents,” said Scott Allen, a socialstudies teacher who has sponsoredthe It’s Academic club forten years. Social studies teacherMichael King is also a sponsorof the club. Allen hopes It’s Academicis a place where studentsmay appreciate the different topicsthey learn while participatingin the club.Court Ruling Impacts Admissionsfrom COLLEGE APPS, p.1Neighboring schools such asTowson University – which doesnot use race as a factor in its admissionsdecisions – have implementedother strategies over theyears to enroll and retain morestudents of color. Boyd Bradshaw,the school’s vice president for enrollmentmanagement, releasedhis statement that this includesgoing test-optional; focusing outreachin certain areas of the state,like the city of Baltimore; spendingmore than 50 percent of theiraid on need-based grants; andhaving resources in place to helpwith the college transition.As many Sherwood seniorswill complete their applicationsthrough the Common App, it isimportant to know what differenceswill occur due to the eliminationof affirmative action. TheCommon App partners with universitiesacross the country. TheCommon App organization hasstated that all member collegesare able to hide the self-disclosedrace and ethnicity informationfrom application PDF files forboth first-year and transfer applications.That means when theyreceive an application PDF fromCommon App, the race and ethnicitydata isn’t visible.Though this practice is whatthe Common App must abide byin order to adhere to the affirmativeaction ban, the court ruling isvague about whether students canidentify their race. For instance,should applicants personally decideto describe their experienceswith race and racial identity,schools can consider such informationif it is “concretely tied toa quality of character or uniqueability that the particular applicantcan contribute to the university,”according to the ruling.As it is unclear what a concretetie to quality of charactermeans, this opens the opportunityfor students to describe the impactsof their race in their essays.For instance, a supplemental essayprompt in the 2023-24 Universityof Maryland applicationstates, “Because we know thatdiversity benefits the educationalexperience of all students, theUniversity of Maryland valuesdiversity in all of its many forms… In a few sentences, will youplease describe how you haveGael Rebu ‘24Members of It’s Academic deliberate during a practice after school.According to club membersenior Joseph Hartlove, It’s Academicis beneficial for members’academic performance andcollege applications. In the club,students are encouraged to worktogether and gain collaborativeskills, helpful in many academicand working environments.Practices are structured to besimilar to the competitions theycompete in. Members simulatethe games and watch videos tolook at strategies for the competition.To help build knowledge,the club does specialized questionsfor specific subjects.As explained by Allen, studentseventually will be able torecognize common answers toquestions with “Pavlovian clues.”One example of this is if a questionasks for a European GrandDuchy, Luxembourg is almostalways the right answer.During the competitions, onlytwo factors are required to win:the answer to the question anda fast finger on the buzzer. “Somuch of the games come downto who is the fastest buzzer,” explainedAllen.Students shouldn’t be afraidof joining. “When I encourageother students to join this club,I often hear nervousness, withresponses like ‘I don’t think I’msmart enough to join,’” said Hartlove.When starting somethingnew, many people struggle withthe new environment. Over time,students will improve and learnnew things throughout their seasonin It’s Academic.learned, grown, been inspiredor developed skills through oneor more components of diversity.”Although there may no longerbe a self-disclosed race box,students have the opportunity tohighlight their race in various essays,which are now increasinglyimportant components to collegeapplications in the US.“Being surrounded by a diverseenvironment has allowedme to gain a comprehensive understandingof subjects,” saidsenior Lily Mosisa, “Movingforward from the ban, I hope thatcollege campuses still embody astrong sense of diversity and thatwhichever school I commit to, Iam surrounded by people withall types of backgrounds, varyingopinions, and those who possessa strong appreciation for differentperspectives - much like myself.”As colleges such as the Universityof Maryland and TowsonUniversity declare their continuedpursuit in creating a diversestudent body, just because affirmativeaction is banned in collegeadmissions, does not mean thatdiversity on college campuses iscompletely gone.
Around Sherwood, there hasbeen an increase in the monitorsthat assess air quality and specificair pollutants as well as measureenvironmental factors suchas temperature or humidity. TheIndoor Air Quality Sensors wereplaced in all MCPS schools overthe summer in classrooms, mediacenters, all-purpose rooms, and insome hallways.According to an MCPS FAQpage, the sensors are created byAttune, a company that is an industryleader in wireless monitoring.Sensors are placed in strategiclocations of enclosed spacesthat record temperature, humidity,and carbon dioxide (CO2),and can detect the presence of airbornepollutants such as particulatematter (PM), volatile organiccompounds (VOCs), ozone (O3),The Warrior • NewsNovember 2, 2023Fallout Continues Following Farquhar Principal Scandalfrom FARQUHAR, p.1Timeline of EventsThe MCEA, the union thatrepresents the district’s teachers,has publicly questioned how itwas possible that the MCPS hadno knowledge of Beidleman’smisconduct prior to the publicationof the allegations. They criticizedthe firm’s report, saying that“Despite all the blank spaces inthe redacted report, it’s appallinglyapparent that MCPS’ centraloffice culture is corrupt and corrosive.”The union’s president, JenniferMartin, demanded that staffmembers feel respected, safe, andempowered in their work environmentand that MCPS students“deserve no less.”Discontent with the Board’sprocess has come not only fromthe community, but county leadersas well. On September 28,the Montgomery County Councilheld a hearing where they reprimandedthe Board for their negligencein which they found theBoard’s lack of transparency inBeidleman’s investigation troubling,largely due to its reluctanceto release full reports and investigationdetails. “I find that veryfrustrating in trying to restore thepublic’s trust,” said County Councilmember Marilyn Balcombe(D-District 2). Distrust with theBoard and Jackson Lewis’ reporthas also come from CountyInspector General Megan DaveyLimarzi as well, who announcedon September 20 that she wouldbegin her own independent investigationsin the coming months.When the article detailingBeidleman’s harassment waspublished, members of the communityreacted in shock, concern,and disgust. Thousands ofcomments from outraged parentsflooded the comment section ofthe first Washington Post investigationthat enumerated Beidleman’smisconduct. Several parentsvoiced concerns about thesafety of their children, and howMCPS was going to handle theincident moving forward.Many teachers, however,by Cliff Vacin ‘25stated in the comment section andon social media that they weren’tsurprised. “There’s a real fear thatthere’s no one above you that youcan go to,” Jean Cashin, a veteranteacher who had left Farquhar inJune 2021, told the WashingtonPost. Several former Farquharteachers spoke about Beidlemanon the condition of anonymity,out of fear for their jobs. Othersreported that they had felt no onewould listen.The reporting by the WashingtonPost identified MCPS supervisorswho appeared to notpursue the allegations againstBeidleman. Former SherwoodPrincipal Eric Minus was Beidleman’sdirect supervisor beforebecoming the principal at Sherwoodfrom 2018-2020. TheWashington Post reported thatMinus told parents that he was a“close personal friend” of Beidlemanwhen they came to him withcomplaints. Additionally, KhalidWalker, formerly of the Officeof Compliance and Investigations,was the lead investigator insome of the teachers’ allegationsagainst Beidleman. However, thePost reported that Walker foundthe investigations into the complaintsinconclusive and no actionwas taken. Recently on October7, the Washington Post reportedthat Walker was promoted andgiven a raise of $11,983 despitehis involvement in Beidleman’scase. After inquiries from Post reporters,MCPS spokesman ChrisCram texted the Post three hourslater that Walker had once againbeen moved to the Office of HumanResources and Developmentat his previous $132,166 salary.McKnight, immediately afterthe release of Jackson Lewis’full redacted report, sent an emailon October 12 to principals regardingleadership changes. “Dr.Patrick Murphy, deputy superintendent,is no longer employedby the district,” McKnight said.She also mentioned personnelmembers absences, whom thePost confirmed had been purposefullyplaced on administra-June 27 - Joel Beidleman, formerprincipal at Farquhar MiddleSchool, is promoted to principalof Paint Branch High School. Thisnew position would have givenhim a raise of $32,000, equallingto an almost $200,000 salary.August 4 - Beidleman is placedon extended leave without explanation.August 11 - Washington Post releasesbombshell article detailingthe history of Beidleman’s decadeof sexual harassment, bullying,and misconduct, as well as theblind eye MCPS turned to manyallegations. Beidleman is put onextended paid leave and MCPSpromises an investigation into thematter using the private law firmJackson Lewis.August 14 and 15 - MCPS SuperintendentDr. Monifa McKnightsends a letter to families of FarquharMiddle School and PaintBranch High School promisingto get to the bottom of the situation.McKnight, also at this time,appointed Pamela Krawczel asa temporary principal for PaintBranch.tive leave. “Dr. Redmond Jonesand Dr. Eugenia (Jeanie) Dawsonare currently on leave,” she said.Prior to their absences, Jones andDawson were school supervisorsassigned to Paint Branch and Farquharrespectively. Additionally,the Post reported that Diane Morris,former Farquhar principal andperson in charge of Beidleman’sstandard five-year evaluation,was also placed on administrativeleave.MCPS also failed beforeBeidleman’s promotion to noticeworrying numbers in the annualstaff climate survey for 2022-23,where 40.6 percent of Farquharteachers last Spring responded“Not at all” to a question regardinghow positive the tone isand carbon monoxide (CO). Thedata is then transmitted wirelesslyand collected for review to see ifthere is a need for corrective actionor to coordinate repairs.The FAQ on the MCPS websitestates the ideal conditions forcomfort and health as between68°F and 76°F, with the humiditybeing between 30 percent and70 percent. Montgomery Countyis not the only county holdingAttune sensors in their buildings,as 6 different school districts in5 different states and the Districtof Columbia have placed them inevery school.One of the challenges thatAugust 17 - MCPS comes underfire for their choice of the law firmJackson Lewis, which has workedwith MCPS in the past and couldcompromise the “independent,external” investigation due to itworking as an MCPS client.August 21 - Dawn Luedtke andEvan Glass, two members of theCounty Council, release a statementcalling for the involvementof county and state investigatorsto have a truly independent investigationfrom MCPS.August 23 - MCPS Board ofEducation President Karla Silvestrereplies to county councilmembers affirming it’s staying oncourse with Jackson Lewis.September 14 - MCPS releasesa summary of the report providedby Jackson Lewis to the Boardof Education about their investigation,finding “significant andtroubling failures by senior managementin MCPS.”September 20 - The MontgomeryCounty Inspector General,Megan Davey Limarzi, announcesthrough a letter to the SchoolBoard President that her officethat leadership sets for staff. Forcomparison, at Farquhar’s neighboringschool, Rosa Parks, only2.7 percent of teachers responded“Not at all” to the same question.“This situation is a reflectionof the fact that MCPS needs anentire culture change,” said SherwoodEnglish teacher ShelleyJackson. Jackson, who has beenfollowing the Washington Post’scoverage of Beidleman closely,said that she was appalled but notsurprised that such an incidentcould happen in MCPS. Jacksonsaid she had heard rumors ofBeidleman long before his misconductwas exposed, and heardabout other instances of sexualharassment in the county. Shewas disappointed in the lack ofSherwood faces with air qualityis that its current HVAC units areolder and more frequently requirecounty maintenance to makesure the temperature controlsare functioning properly. LindaBerkheimer, the school’s businessmanager, explained that thelarge portable ventilation units inthe main office at the beginningof the year were supporting theschool’s HVAC system while itwas getting maintenance repairs.”Better ventilation and airquality are considered by expertsas critical to lessen the transmissionof Covid-19 and otherairborne illnesses. “I do believeimproving ventilation improvesair quality as research has proved.The more dispersed contaminantsare in the air the lower the transmissionof pollutants and viruses,”explained School Nurse IreneGumucio. In the Spring of 20213will launch two investigations.One being into the allegations ofmisconduct into Beidleman andMCPS’ response to the allegations,and the second looking intoMCPS’ sexual harassment andcomplaints system.September 28 - The Board ofEducation is reprimanded by theMontgomery County Councilover their failure in transparencyand accountability during a hearingheld by the County CouncilEducation and Culture Committee.October 12 - The heavily redactedreport by Jackson Lewis investigatingmisconduct in MCPS isreleased to the public, illustratingthe vast scale of failure withinMCPS leadership that goes beyondBeidleman.October 12 - SuperintendentMcKnight sends an email to principalsregarding personnel changes.Deputy Superintendent PatrickMurphy has left the county forunspecified reasons, and EugeniaDawson, Redmond Jones, and DianeMorris have been placed onadministrative leave.-Connor Pugh ‘24communication, and believes thatthe county owes an apology to thecommunity for allowing Beidlemanto get away with his behaviorin their system.Jackson said that to remedythe damage, MCPS needs to implement“clear and transparentprocesses … for dealing withcomplaints and investigationsinto [those] complaints.” In thiscase, Jackson said because theinvestigators had been friends ofBeidleman, an objective processwas impossible. However, Jacksonbelieves that with hard work,transparency, and communicationto constituents the MCPS Boardcan be held accountable. “It takeswill to do the right thing,” shesaid.MCPS Monitoring Air Quality and Temp in SchoolsGael Rebu ‘24One of the many Indoor Air Quality Sensors present around Sherwood.when students had the option toreturn to school or remain virtual,classrooms in MCPS receivedRoom Air Purifiers (RAP). Thesebulky plug-in machines remain inSherwood’s classrooms but arerarely turned on by teachers orother staff.Gumucio emphasizes theimportance of precautions andpractices that students themselvescan do. “I encourage studentsand staff to get flu and covid vaccinesas needed,” she said. “Bevigilant about getting plenty ofsleep, eat healthy, and practiceself-care. Practice good handwashing throughout the day. Ifyou have a fever, stay home untilfever-free for 24 hours and followup with your doctor if symptomspersist … Viruses are here to stayso having ‘tools’ to manage ourcoexistence will promote betteroutcomes in the future.”