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JSHS Teacher of the Year - Greater DC

Congratulations to Upper School science teacher Laura Petro on being named the 2022 Greater Washington DC Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) Teacher of the Year! Ms. Petro earned this recognition for her exceptional contributions to promoting student research. She was nominated for the honor by a former Potomac student. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, the JSHS promotes original research and experimentation at the high school level; teacher and mentor recognition is a key component of the program. 

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The Global Perspectives and Citizenship (GPAC) concentration program is a space for student-driven research. GPAC senior Grace McMiller was recently notified that her article "One State, Two Entities, Three Constituent Peoples: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Failed Attempt at Interethnic Peace" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Student Research. Grace joins fellow GPAC students Arya Kumar ‘23 and Ali O’Brien ‘23, whose research work was published in November. Like her peers, Grace thrived in the self-directed process, meeting frequently with faculty to discuss her findings and formulate her arguments. She reflects, "GPAC 11 took me through the entire process of developing a strong, argumentative, and pointed research question and seeing it through: funneling through sources, writing, revising, and finally editing a long paper. The process encouraged me to think beyond the headlines and dig deeply into global issues."

Grace examined Bosnia and Herzegovina's attempt to foster state unity following the genocide in 1995. Beginning with a close analysis of the Dayton Accords, Grace explored the operational unity constructed by the unique democratic design, which includes nontraditional elements, such as a three-person consociational presidency. The bulk of Grace's argument focused on exposing how regime design and supporting institutions have failed to promote true democratic traditions as ethnopolitical divisiveness and inequality continue to erode unity within the country. Her study of this complex regime afforded Grace the opportunity to reflect on how institutional design shapes the democratic character of a country.

Congratulations to Grace and her fellow GPAC scholars!

Game Changers Ice Skating with Second Story Returns

Last Wednesday, 12 members of the US Game Changers program hosted 14 guests from Second Story at the Pentagon Row Ice Skating Rink for an evening of skating, fun, and pizza. Students from both Second Story and Potomac celebrated the return of this long-standing event, a first time in three years. And for many of the students from Second Story, this was their first time ice skating. Thanks to Game Changers leaders Sally Bedell ‘23 and Sophia Smith ‘23 for helping to organize the meaningful event! Game Changers is a weekly mentoring program, hosted virtually and in person, each Wednesday evening during the Winter Sports season.

Lunar New Year Celebration

Tuesday brought a variety of performances, games, and opportunities for students to learn about and celebrate the Lunar New Year. From a professional Chinese opera performance to student-led performances arranged by US Chinese teacher Carol Jia, the assembly showcased some of the ways people around the world ring in the Lunar New Year. Afterward, the Crossroads was abuzz, with a calligraphy station, a chopstick competition, and a masterclass in making (and eating) dumplings, thanks to a crew of parent volunteers. Appreciation and applause to the students who modeled tremendous courage in getting up on stage and performing in a non-native tongue. Happy Year of the Rabbit!

"Shark Tank" Comes to the Upper School

Each fall, budding Potomac entrepreneurs spend a semester experiencing the realities of the business world, where creativity and practical skills combine to develop innovative ideas that work. This week, students in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, an Economics, Finance, Entrepreneurship, and Business Concentration (EFEB) course, culminated their semester experience with Shark Tank-style presentations in front of a team of volunteer sharks made up of Potomac faculty and staff, alumni, and Assistant Head of School Tim Jaeger.

Thirty-three students pitched a variety of products that included versatile and customizable sports/leisure bags (Buildable Bags), a contraption that disinfects and deodorizes sports equipment (Locker Room Hero), a baby swing that mimics a mother’s embrace (Huggy Hammock), and an eco-friendly confetti launcher for celebrations (Conservation Confetti). The panel of sharks asked probing questions about finances, marketing plans, future growth, logo selection, and more. They also offered their experience and guidance, which was well-received by all of the students.

Thanks go to alumni Abby Sullivan ’97, Reed Landry ’99, and Andrew Serafin ’92 for spending time with our students. Sean Moran and Harry Strong teach the class. Read more in Discovering an Entrepreneurial Spirit. 

This Tuesday morning's assembly offered opportunities for several students to share about interesting and engaging project-based assessments they completed during the first semester. Two groups from James Gillespie's Advanced Python Programming class (seniors Ben Bartlett, Devon Cleaver, Rohan Iyer, Caroline Norton, Tea Picconatto, and Samantha Taylormoore) presented classic games that they coded; two students from Jeremy Metz's Advanced Ethics class discussed using an ethical framework to better understand and debate divisive topics such as the death penalty, gun control, and animal rights; and members of Mia Fisher-Phillips' ensemble theatre classes shared about a project where they designed make-up and costumes, using recycled materials, for a hypothetical performance. The creative ways our teachers are testing their students' knowledge and skills never ceases to amaze!

Zahra Arabzada visits Potomac

Friday's assembly speaker was the impressive Zahra Arabzada, an activist for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Ms. Arabzada shared her story of traveling to the United States to receive her education at St. George's School in Newport, RI, and then attending Hobart & William Smith Colleges. She now lives and works in Washington, DC, and during the withdrawal of American troops last summer, she helped secure the safe passage of her family from Afghanistan to Canada. Read More