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Potomac Stories

GPAC Student Research to be Published

The Global Perspectives and Citizenship (GPAC) concentration program is a space for student-driven research. Seniors Arya Kumar and Ali O’Brien, like many of their peers, were eager for an opportunity to investigate a global problem and design a project that reflected the complexities of political systems, economic exchange, and national identity. Ali and Arya thrived in the self-directed process, meeting frequently with faculty to discuss their findings and begin to formulate arguments. Ali’s research is titled, "The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue: The West's Response to China in the Indo-Pacific" and Arya’s research is titled, “Democracy or Autocracy: Singapore’s Increasing Rejection of Democratic Values.” 

Over the course of the writing process, they each amassed incredibly impressive bibliographies that indicated that they had worked with over one-hundred and twenty-five sources each in designing their arguments. It is because of their commitment to the process and their relentless pursuit of a true understanding of their topics, that Ali and Arya were able to craft thoughtful and insightful research papers that will now enter formal academic discussions once they are published in Journal of Student Research. The GPAC program is incredibly proud of their accomplishments. They are well-deserved and serve as models for future GPAC students!

Arya reflects, “It feels good to know that all of the hard work I put in over the summer, and throughout my time in GPAC, was being recognized. It’s inspiring to know that Ali and I – and everyone in GPAC – were able to engage in a college level research process as high schoolers and all produce really interesting papers about complex topics.”

Ali shares, “GPAC has changed my worldview simply by emphasizing how to think critically about the nuance of international issues. All of the research conducted in GPAC underlined the necessity of understanding the historical context of a situation to discuss it accurately in the present."

Learn more about GPAC research from the 2021-22 school year.

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POTOMAC STORIES

Taylor Burris '24 continued her run of success, finishing fourth at the Harvard National High School Invitational Forensics Tournament in extemp, was runner-up at Metro Extemp Finals, and added the Metro championship in impromptu to her list of accomplishments. Placing at Harvard is difficult as nearly 5,000 students from 462 U.S. and international high schools traveled to this year's tournament.

Sebastian Gardner '25 semi-finaled at Harvard in congressional debate, matching our highest finish at the Harvard debates in five years. Gardner and Armaan Sethi '26 both won leadership awards at Harvard.  Ethan Maher '25 was invited to the prestigious Harvard Congressional round-robin tournament the day before the main event. Alexander Bauer '25 joined Sethi and Maher with a quarter-final finish. Graeme Evans '24 also advanced to the quarter-finals for Potomac in humorous interpretation at Harvard.

The speech students only had a few days to recover from Harvard as they faced the challenges at the WACFL Speech Metro Finals this past Saturday, winning team sweeps for the metro schools in Northern Virginia.  

Burris' Metro title in impromptu speaking led the speech effort. Isabella Chumpitaz '24 was the runner-up in oral interpretation. Charlotte Ross '26, Meredith Vorndran '25, Burris, and eighth grader Anika Agrawal qualified for two events for the NCFL tournament. Finally, congratulations to Thomas Shanmugam '26 and William Shanmugam '27 on their wins at the DCUDL public forum tournament this past weekend!  

AI Assembly Tackles Hot Topics

On Tuesday, the newly formed Upper School AI student committee hosted an assembly focused on the potential benefits and challenges of generative artificial intelligence. Students moderated a panel of three leaders in AI – U.S. Congressman Don Beyer, Professor Brian Hall, and Dr. Sarah Murphy Gray – who spoke to this technology's influence in politics, sports, defense, business, social media, and beyond. All three described themselves as "AI optimists," with a real sense of how AI could transform the world positively, but they guided students not to lose touch with the humanities as we learn these tools. Student moderators Kasim Khapra '25, India Cairncross '25, and Arav Bhargava '24 demonstrated real leadership in facilitating a discussion with the panelists and soliciting questions from the audience. This assembly was first and foremost student-generated, and it was exciting to watch their work over several months pay off. View photos from the discussion.

Romeo and Juliet Captivates 

Congratulations to the cast and crew of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Their performances over the weekend showed the wide range of talent here at Potomac. Read the preview of the show from The Current, written by Trevor Nelson ’27 and Brandon Mayrhofer ’27. Please view the photo gallery.

Learning About Biodiversity on Smithsonian Field Trip

Students in the Biodiversity & Conservation class traveled to the Natural History Museum to participate in the Reefs Unleashed program led by museum staff. Students learned about Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS), a nondestructive tool that Smithsonian scientists use to measure the biodiversity of coral reefs all over the world, then observed and analyzed data from images of ARMS plates to better understand the impact of ocean acidification on coral reefs. Applying their knowledge of marine ecosystems to their observations, students developed hypotheses to explain the differences in reef biodiversity. 

ASIA Club Hosts NBC4 News Anchor

Last week, the US ASIA (Asian Students In America) Club hosted its annual assembly and invited guest speaker Ms. Eun Yang to Potomac. Ms. Yang is the primetime news anchor at NBC4 Washington. She shared about her childhood growing up as an immigrant in PG County, her experiences in college that led her to broadcasting, and some of the challenges she has faced throughout her career, including the time that she was fired! Ms. Yang encouraged students to work hard and believe they are more than their grades and transcript. We thank Ms. Yang for coming to Potomac. 

Career Lab Highlights Variety of Professions

Last week, the Career and Professional Skills Committee and the Alumni Office hosted Jack Moore ’11, producer at Bethesda Game Studios; Bria Peace ’16, assistant vice president at Bank of America Wealth Management on the Hedge Fund Origination team; and Naki Franklin ’17, YouTube channel operations coordinator for Nickelodeon as panelists for this year's second Career Lab for juniors and seniors. They shared their insights and advice on their journey after Potomac, their jobs, and their perspectives on work and the future of work.