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

Potomac School News

25 Potomac School Students Earn National Merit Scholarship Recognition

Twenty-five seniors at The Potomac School have earned special recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Potomac students received the following distinctions:

  • National Merit Semifinalist (among the top 16,000 scorers nationwide): Madeline Cunnion, Tracey Mills, and Jasmine Terrones
  • Commended Student (among the top 50,000 performers nationwide): Caroline Case, William Debayo-Doherty, Laila Germanis, Jason Gould, Seyoung Hong, Helen Horan, Caroline Jackson, David Kiernan, Nicole Manning, Maria Petrosinelli, Matthew Plaza, Thomas Rollins, Catherine Rooney, Tyler Sanok, Chloe Searchinger, William Socas, William Thompson, Brian Wilson, Jolie Zhang, and Tina Zvinys
  • National Hispanic Recognition Program Recipient (among the top 5,000 scores out of the 250,000 Hispanic students who took the PSAT): Farris Sepúlveda,
    TJ Sharkey, and Jasmine Terrones
Girls Varsity Soccer Wins ISL AA Tournament, Season Title
The girls varsity soccer team (14-1-2) beat Stone Ridge 4-2 on November 5, winning the ISL AA tournament in addition to claiming the ISL AA regular season title.

Scoring goals in the game against Stone Ridge were Tracey Mills, Courtlynne Caskin, and Charlotte White. Congratulations on a successful season, Panthers!

IS Debaters Excel at Tournament of Champions

Eighth grade debaters Kay Rollins and Christian Herald gave strong performances at the National Middle School Tournament of Champions (TOC) at the University of Kentucky this past weekend.

Kay is a double national champion, winning in both extemporaneous speaking and original oratory. Having also competed at the High School TOC earlier this spring, Kay is the first 8th grader in the 44-year history of the high school tournament who advanced to semi-finals. Christian, who had only competed in two other tournaments this season, also saw success in Kentucky, taking 6th place in original oratory.

VISAA Honors Girls Athletics  Director

Girls Athletics Director Dr. Cas Blanchard has been honored as one of seven members of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association's (VISAA) inaugural Hall of Fame class. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Richmond, Va., on May 8.

Dr. Blanchard was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments as an educator and her extensive work with the VISAA. She helped to establish the organization's structure as a member of the initial VISAA committee from 1997 through 1998, then served as the northern region representative on the VISAA Executive Committee from 2001 to 2014. Beginning in 2002, Dr. Blanchard concurrently served as VISAA secretary. Since 2006, she has chaired Virginia's state-wide sports committees for girls tennis and lacrosse, having founded the girls lacrosse committee.

Dr. Blanchard has been Potomac's director of girls athletics since 2001. She also coaches in Potomac's Intermediate School girls basketball and soccer programs. Asked what she most enjoys about her job, she observes, "It's a privilege to work with our student-athletes, coaches, and parents. There is a terrific spirit at Potomac that makes every day enjoyable." She adds, "I always like to see a team improving over the course of time. And every once in a while, you have a special team that has a special season, and that's really rewarding."

Head of School John Kowalik notes, "For the past 16 years, Cas Blanchard has set a high standard, encouraging our student-athletes to give their best in terms of effort, perseverance, sportsmanship, and teamwork. At Potomac and across the state, she is recognized as someone who genuinely cares about students and has helped to make athletics an integral aspect of independent-school education. We are delighted that she has received this honor from the VISAA."

Robotics Teams Named U.S. Open National Champions

Potomac's Upper School robotics teams participated in the U.S. Open National Championship in Omaha, NE, April 6-8. Three of the school's teams, 12A, 12G, and 12E/F, competed as an alliance to become the U.S. Open champions.

The members of the teams that formed the winning alliance were seniors Randall Kliman, Krishna Kumar, and John Tofil; sophomores Ben Adolphe, Matt Giuliano, Jake Levingston, Arjun Kumar, and freshman Akshay Gupta; and sophomores Zoe Dubelier, Marshall Riccardi, James Jordan, Kenny Lin, Max Wehner, and Jared White.

Additionally, Team 12B, comprising juniors Becca Crawley and Jasmine Terrones and freshman Jodie Kuo, was a member of a finalist alliance. Additional highlights include the following:

  • Team 12A was also a finalist of the 1v1 tournament, Team 12E/F won the Amaze Award for their outstanding robot, and 12G was picked to be in the skills final competition
  • Teams 12C (juniors Caroline Case, David Kiernan, and Amelia Mazloom), 12D (sophomores Whitney Bowen, Hollis Cutler, Eleanor Nuechterlein, and Anna Takis), 12X (freshmen Michael Djorup, Jun-Young Hong, Charlotte Ellis, Ethan Lee, and Kat Plaza), and 12Y (freshmen Amelia Cook, Harper Malesardi, Kelsey Norton, and Sarah Raman) also competed at the tournament, demonstrating their hard work from throughout the year

Congratulations to all who participated in the competition!

Under the leadership of Speech and Debate Coach Harry Strong, a school record of 11 Potomac students have qualified to compete at the 2017 National Speech and Debate Tournament this June in Birmingham, AL.

The students competing are senior Alex Arroyo (original oratory), sophomore Jessica Kwon (worlds school), senior Quentin Levin (public forum), senior Bonnie McKelvie (public forum), junior Max Morehouse (worlds school and public forum), eighth grader Kay Rollins (middle school extemp and middle school oratory), junior Tom Rollins (international extemp), junior Ramses Rubio (worlds school), sophomore Max Shenkman (worlds school), junior Will Thompson (public forum), and junior Jay Younger (public forum).

Last year, five Potomac students (a school record at the time) qualified to compete in the national tournament. Congratulations and good luck to this year's participants!

Girls Tennis and Soccer Teams Win ISL AA Championship

The girls varsity tennis team and the girls varsity soccer team have each been named ISL AA champions. The soccer team claimed their title on October 17 after a 3-0 win over Stone Ridge, having had three victories within a seven day span!

The tennis team won the ISL AA banner after beating Georgetown Visitation 6-1 on October 24. This is the first time in Potomac's history that the team has earned this distinction, and the team is currently ranked third in the VISAA.

Way to go, Panthers!
SERC Student and Advisor Receive Honors

In March, senior Peter Holmes and faculty member Dr. Isabelle Cohen were recognized at the regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), held at Georgetown University.

Peter, a student in Potomac's Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program, was awarded third-place honors at the JSHS. He received a scholarship and the opportunity to present his research, which focuses on a new method for producing ethanol as a biofuel, at the national JSHS in San Diego in April.

This is not the first time Peter has been recognized for this research. In January, he was named one of 300 Regeneron Scholars as part of the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious pre-college competition that also awards scholarships.

Peter began working on his project as a junior. Having read about using algae to make ethanol, he notes, "I tried to think outside the box about a 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." Peter's research advisor, Dr. Isabelle Cohen, says, "His scientific approach was one of the soundest I have witnessed in my many years of research and teaching."

The admiration is mutual. At the JSHS, Dr. Cohen received the organization's 2017 Teacher Award, having been nominated by Peter. He wrote, "I would characterize Dr. Cohen as the most intelligent, hard-working, and considerate person I know. Within her role as an advisor in the SERC program, Dr. Cohen oversees approximately 10 students a year in their independently crafted research projects. ...Dr. Cohen does much more than merely monitor; she becomes a trusted confidant throughout the whole process. ...Without Dr. Cohen constantly pushing me to my greatest potential, I would not be where I am scientifically, nor appreciate the field nearly as much."

Congratulations to both Peter and Dr. Cohen!

Reunion Registration Is Now Open

All alumni are welcome back to campus for Reunion 2017. On April 28 and 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.

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.

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.

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.