An Independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, D.C.

Potomac School News

Reunion 2017 Registration Is Now Open

All alumni are welcome back to campus for Reunion 2017. On April 28 & 29, we will once again have a chance to come together to share and celebrate. Reunion is a great opportunity to reconnect with classmates and forge new friendships. Click here to learn more.

Senior Named Regeneron Scholar for Research on Biofuel Production

Senior Peter Holmes, a student in Potomac's Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program, has been selected as one of 300 Regeneron Scholars (previously known as Intel semifinalists) as part of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious pre-college competition.

Peter, who will attend Duke University next year, was chosen for his innovative approach to the production of ethanol as a biofuel.

His project advisor, Dr. Isabelle Cohen, explains, "Peter developed a system in which baker's yeast in the presence of photosynthetic organelles from algae produced ethanol as efficiently as in the presence of the common sugar glucose. This is a new approach to the production of ethanol as a biofuel." She adds, "His scientific approach was one of the soundest I have witnessed in my many years of research and teaching."

Peter began working on the project as a junior, devoting time over school breaks to continue his research. Having read about using algae to make ethanol, he notes, "I tried to think outside the box about a new way that could be more productive and more efficient. That would be to have a single organism, or at least one system, that can both ferment and photosynthesize at the same time, making the whole process more effective."

For his selection, Peter receives a $2,000 award from Regeneron, with an additional $2,000 presented to Potomac. On January 24, Regeneron will announce 40 finalists, who will then compete for the top award of $250,000.

MS and IS Robotics Students Receive Honors

Potomac's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade robotics teams performed strongly at tournaments held on January 7 and 8, collecting many awards.

Participating in the First Lego League Regional Qualification Tournament, 6th grade team "Robo Squad" finished 7th out of 17. Fellow 6th grade team "Buzz Builders" took 2nd place and received a 1st place trophy for Robotic Design. They will advance to the Maryland State Championship, which takes place in February.

Competing at the Northern Virginia VEX IQ Challenge-Crossover Tournament, Potomac 7th and 8th grade teams saw impressive accomplishments, which include...

Team E (Elie DeLaVille and Christopher Kang) and Team D (Rajan Bhargava, Hudson LaForce, and Clay Socas) received the Teamwork Champion Award, as they were the top two teams on the winning alliance in the Teamwork Challenge Finals Matches.

Team G (Michael Fields, Bryce Lukacs, and Cole Morehouse) all received the Teamwork Challenge Award as members of the second place alliance in the Teamwork Challenge Finals Matches.

Team E also received the Excellence Award—the highest award, which recognizes successful overall performance—and the Robot Skill Champion Award.

Team A (Rachael Fields, Julia Jackson, Alejandra Monzon, and Elizabeth Oskoui) received the STEM Project Research Award.

Team H (Margaret Taylor, Charlotte Whitehurst, and Ellie Yoon) received the Design Award.

Diversity Hiring Fair: Saturday, February 4

The Potomac School will be hosting a Diversity Hiring Fair on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The fair is held in partnership with Eastern Educational Resource Collaborative, and will run from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm. Please click here for further information and to register.

Potomac Teacher Receives Education Leadership Award

The JASON Project has honored Mary Cahill, Middle and Intermediate School science teacher and Intermediate School academic dean, with its 2016 Education Leadership Award. Formerly a division of the National Geographic Society, the JASON Project (named for the mythical hero-explorer who captained the Argo) designs curriculum for K-12 inquiry-based STEM education, promoting learning "that mimics what scientists are doing in the field," Ms. Cahill says.

In a career spanning 35 years (28 of them at Potomac), Mary Cahill has become a master teacher and an advocate for inquiry-based learning in the sciences. She has served as a consultant for National Geographic since 1994, training teachers in Canada, Japan, and throughout the United States to effectively use various curricula produced by that organization and its affiliates, including the JASON Project, Crittercam, Giant Traveling Maps, and Geography Action. National Geographic has filmed Ms. Cahill's science lessons at Potomac as examples of best practices in teaching, and she taught a master class entitled "Exploring Your World with National Geographic" at the Chautauqua Institute in 2009. In addition, Ms. Cahill has worked with the National Science Resource Center's Biodiversity Academy since 2006.

At Potomac, Ms. Cahill partners with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to offer her students unique and exciting learning opportunities. Under her direction, 6 th graders learn about an urban watershed through hands-on experiences at the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers; 7 th graders participate in an ecological restoration project involving underwater grass beds (they grow the grass from seed at school then transplant it along the lower Potomac); and 8 th graders spend three full days on a remote island in the Bay, working as "watermen" and "waterwomen" and learning about the connections between the Bay, its watershed, and broader environmental issues. She says, "The opportunity to have our students experience one of the most biologically productive estuaries in the world is a real treasure. When students mirror the kinds of research scientists are doing in the field, they see that they too can make a difference."

Ms. Cahill is a National Board Certified teacher; she has received a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship (1994), a Fulbright Fellowship to Japan (1997), and a Grosvenor Fellowship for travel to the Arctic Ocean (2009). Her undergraduate degree, in biology, is from Regis College,and she earned a master's degree in science education at Boston University

Robotics Teams Continue to Excel

Potomac's Upper School robotics teams had another successful weekend, competing at a a VEX Robotics Competition in Manassas on December 10. Five of the seven Potomac teams competing placed in the top 10, and Team 12D was named tournament champion.

Team 12D comprises sophomores Whitney Bowen, Hollis Cutler, Eleanor Nuechterlein, and Anna Takis.

Additional highlights from the tournament include...

  • Team 12Y, comprising freshmen Amelia Cook, Harper Malesardi, Kelsey Norton, and Sarah Raman, was undefeated in the qualification matches with a 6-0 record and was the highest ranked team. The team was also a tournament finalist and won the Excellence Award for outstanding overall performance.
  • Team 12G, consisting of freshman Akshay Gupta and sophomores Ben Adolphe, Matthew Giuliano, Jake Levingston, and Arjun Kumar, was also a tournament finalist.
Potomac Student Wins Local "Extraordinary Teen" Award

Arlington Magazine named Madeline Dubelier '16 one of the 10 winners of its 2016 Extraordinary Teen Awards. The prosthetic hand with touch sensors that Dubelier created as part of the Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program at Potomac led to her distinction as a semifinalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search. She is pictured with Gianmarco Terrones '15, who was also a semifinalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search.

In the July/August issue of Arlington Magazine, Dubelier notes that the hand represents an attainable means for individuals to once again achieve some sensory control.

Dubelier, beginning her first semester at Cornell University, was also active in robotics and athletics at Potomac. She is the third consecutive Potomac student to be featured in the annual awards spread, following Theo Mendez and Elliot Kim.

Click here to read Arlington's full article online.

Intermediate School Robotics Team Headed to World Championship

At the VEX IQ state championship last weekend, the Intermediate School robotics team of Ethan Lee, Michael Djorup, Kat Plaza, and Jun-Young Hong won the Excellence Award, the tournament's highest honor, which earned them a spot in April's world championship in Louisville, KY. Meanwhile, the team of Kelsey Norton, Harper Malesardi, and Jacqueline McElroy won the Energy Award for their enthusiasm.

Three Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Finalists

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has recognized Potomac School seniors Gianmarco Terrones, Kevin O'Leary, and Ryan Kelly (pictured, left to right) as National Merit finalists.

Of the approximately 1.5 million students who entered this year's competition, Kelly, O'Leary, and Terrones will be considered from a pool of 15,000 finalists for the 7,400 National Merit Scholarships being offered this spring. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of a student's abilities, skills, and accomplishments, with an emphasis on academic achievement.

Seniors Named Semifinalists in Intel Research Competition

Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program seniors Madeline Dubelier and Gianmarco Terrones have been named semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search 2016, a prestigious pre-college science and math competition. Madeline was chosen for her work on a robotic hand with touch sensors and double flex technology that allows a user to form a pinch grip, while Gianmarco was selected for his extensive research on desalination. Madeline and Gianmarco are two of only 300 semifinalists selected from a pool of more than 1,750 entrants nationwide.

For their selection, each receives a $1,000 award from Intel with an additional $1,000 presented to Potomac. On January 20, Intel will select 40 students as finalists, who will compete for more than $1 million in additional awards.

Upper School Students Learn Through Service

Whether the day was spent organizing and restocking items, playing Monopoly with seniors at an assisted living community, or gardening and making other improvements on the school's campus, everyone helped make a positive difference.

On Tuesday, Upper School students and their advisors shared their time and talents with 22 local organizations, including Martha's Table, Common Good City Farm, and Bread for the City during the fall Service Learning Day.

Independent Research Earns Matt Spencer Siemens Honors

Matt, who is a student in Potomac's Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program, has been working on his independent research project for more than two years. Potomac biology teacher Dr. Isabelle Cohen notes, "Matt's findings are an extension of 2014 Potomac graduate Caden Petersmeyer's research on identifying plant fungi that consume plastic as their sole nutrient." After isolating more than 50 types of fungi, Caden discovered two that are capable of surviving solely on plastic.

Using the fungi that Caden identified, Matt took the research a step further: He sought to identify the digestive byproducts produced as the fungi consume plastic. His research shows that the fungi break down polyurethane particles while producing neither carbon dioxide nor methane – meaning that this process has the potential to bioremediate plastic waste without producing byproducts that are harmful to the environment. Part of Matt's analysis was conducted at Georgetown University's Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology, under the guidance of Dr. Xinran Zhang.

Senior Matt Spencer has been selected as a regional semifinalist in the prestigious Siemens Competition in Science, Math, and Technology for his research on bioremediation, a waste-management technique that involves the use of organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants. Matt was one of only 36 Virginia students selected as regional semifinalists and one of just 466 semifinalists nationwide.

Upper School Students Learn Through Service

On Tuesday, Upper School students and their advisors shared their time and talents with 22 local organizations, including Martha's Table, Common Good City Farm, and Bread for the City during the fall Service Learning Day. Whether the day was spent organizing and restocking items, playing Monopoly with seniors at an assisted living community, or gardening and making other improvements on the school's campus, everyone helped make a positive difference.

Independent Research Earns Matt Spencer Siemens Honors

Senior Matt Spencer has been selected as a regional semifinalist in the prestigious Siemens Competition in Science, Math, and Technology for his research on bioremediation, a waste-management technique that involves the use of organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants. Matt was one of only 36 Virginia students selected as regional semifinalists and one of just 466 semifinalists nationwide.

Matt, who is a student in Potomac's Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program, has been working on his independent research project for more than two years. Potomac biology teacher Dr. Isabelle Cohen notes, "Matt's findings are an extension of 2014 Potomac graduate Caden Petersmeyer's research on identifying plant fungi that consume plastic as their sole nutrient." After isolating more than 50 types of fungi, Caden discovered two that are capable of surviving solely on plastic.

Using the fungi that Caden identified, Matt took the research a step further: He sought to identify the digestive byproducts produced as the fungi consume plastic. His research shows that the fungi break down polyurethane particles while producing neither carbon dioxide nor methane – meaning that this process has the potential to bioremediate plastic waste without producing byproducts that are harmful to the environment. Part of Matt's analysis was conducted at Georgetown University's Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology, under the guidance of Dr. Xinran Zhang.

Rising Senior Wins Local "Extraordinary Teen" Award

Arlington Magazine has named rising senior Elliot Kim one of the 10 winners of its 2015 Extraordinary Teen Awards. This is the second consecutive year that a Potomac student has been honored by the magazine with this award (last year, Theo Mendez was the recipient). At Potomac, Elliot runs track and cross country, plays the cello, and is part of the Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program. Also, after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he has focused on diabetes advocacy, organizing fundraisers and participating in walks to help support efforts to find a cure.

"I invite the entire school to come out and wear blue," Elliot told Arlington Magazine. "When the bus doors open" and dozens of friends pour out, "it's just amazing."

Elliot was chosen from a pool of nominated students from public and private schools in Arlington, Falls Church, and McLean. The magazine featuring this year's honorees hit newsstands the week of June 15.

Click here to read the article online.