Potomac’s Speech and Debate team swept the Virginia NSDA State Qualifying Tournament this past weekend, winning their fifth consecutive state speech championship. Twelve students qualified for the June national tournament in Phoenix, AZ, and 17 of 25 Potomac entries were place winners. State individual championships went to Hannah de Souza ’25 in Program Oral Interpretation, Isabella Sequar ’24 in Original Oratory, Taylor Burris ’25 in International Extemp, and Meredith Vorndran ’25 in U.S. Extemp. This was a repeat championship for Meredith. The team also scored four runner-up placements. View the full results. Congratulations to the entire team and our Speech and Debate program!
Headlines and #Hashtags
in the news
The Upper School was privileged to welcome former Potomac history teacher Steve Goldberg back to campus to share the story of his friend, and now-deceased Holocaust survivor, Abe Piasek. Splicing together photographs, historical context, and clips of Abe speaking and being interviewed, Mr. Goldberg shared a captivating tale of resilience amid devastating inhumanity. He followed up his assembly presentation with a lunchtime conversation where a smaller group of students and teachers were able to ask questions about Abe's life and the work Mr. Goldberg is doing to continue telling his story.
Six seniors from Potomac’s Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program have been selected as regional finalists for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). Lauren Foster will prepare an oral presentation to be considered for Nationals, while the other students will compete in the poster sessions to be ranked at the National level. The presentations will take place at The Catholic University of America on February 25.
The students began their projects during their junior year and worked on them throughout the summer of 2022. Lauren’s work focuses on decellularizing muscles to generate a natural platform to regenerate muscle. Arya Bansal developed a quantitative AI model to extract data from medical images through high-dimensional radiomic features in PET and CT scans. Grace Lee researched potential biomarkers for medically diagnosed depression by correlating the signaling pathways in MDD and calcium deposition in teeth enamel. Mika Dewar developed an app that uses rPPG technology to detect changes in pulse rate and blood flow when the user interacts with deep-fake data. Alex Christ developed drug-loaded micromotors that improve drug delivery in gastric cancers. And Andrew Lay investigated the testing of hand/arm prosthetics to identify the most reliable approach by analyzing quantitative and qualitative evaluations, including the Box and Block Test. Congratulations to our SERC seniors; we are very proud of their accomplishments!
Amanda Marshall, founder of Fair Chance and co-founder of Families4Families, received the award during a school-wide assembly honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lower School students recently participated in an educational program with visiting musicians, arranged by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington, DC. The students learned about the angklung, an Indonesian musical instrument made from bamboo, which symbolizes unity and community.
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.
Last week, the SERC-11 Independent Research class welcomed Jason Lu, Potomac’s new science fellow, who shares his time between Lower School science classes and Upper School anatomy and physiology class. As a recent graduate in neuroscience from Pomona College, CA, Mr. Lu answered a variety of questions that the juniors in the SERC program had prepared, including “What advice would you give your high school self?” “What does a career in neuroscience look like?” and “What career paths will you follow using your neuroscience degree?”
Using anecdotes from his college experience, Mr. Lu took the students on an exploration of the brain sensory reaction to bicultural norms and discussed preliminary evidence indicating that social media could trigger brain stimuli similar to addictive drugs. He also stressed that a major in a STEM field opens up a variety of job opportunities beyond science. He emphasized the importance of a holistic college experience to become “more than your major” and the influence that history, philosophy, and arts classes have had on him. Thank you, Mr. Lu, for such an amazing conversation!
Precious Barnes, Head Athletic Trainer
While working at The Potomac School, I have had the opportunity to complete two post-graduate degrees. I have been able to broaden my skill set by focusing on topics that complement athletic health.
The students in Robert von Glahn's Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Lost Cause elective took a day away from Potomac to explore the Gettysburg Battlefield last week. The focus of the trip was a 2.5-hour tour of the battlefield, where students explored the grounds and listened to engaging stories and explanations of the battle from their official guide. Reflecting on the trip, students appreciated how the battle impacted the residents of Gettysburg and how the destruction from the battle shaped the region. Several students questioned why slavery was not more central to the tour. The class will investigate this question in their final unit on memory and the Lost Cause.
This month, 10 members of the Potomac School community were certified as Virginia Save Our Streams (VA SOS) stream monitors. The extensive certification process taught the volunteers how to properly collect and identify a variety of benthic macroinvertebrates. The Pimmit Run stream on Potomac's campus is a rich teaching tool for all grades. Our certified stream monitors will track Pimmit Run's water quality, report their data to VA SOS, and help provide remediation as needed. In Virginia, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) relies on VA SOS volunteers to provide an accurate picture of stream health. In fact, VA SOS volunteers supply 12% of the data for DEQ’s water quality reports to Congress.