Pendergrass decides to proceed with bill
I appreciate [Republican state Sen. Sandra B.] Schrader's courtesy in sending to me a copy of her Letter to the Editor regarding HB 567 ("Pendergrass bill needs more study," The Sun, Feb. 22). At this time, I am comfortable with the contents of the bill.
I believe that I am bound by my word to my constituents, and hers, to move forward with this bill. I am certain that she will understand and respect my need to honor my promise to my constituents.
Obviously, I respect her position and the thoughtful process that has led to her conclusion.
Del. Shane E. Pendergrass
The writer is a Democratic member of the Howard County delegation.
CA's problems begin at the top
The Sun's Feb. 15 news article, "CA official's comments stir criticism," shows what lengths CA President Maggie Brown and CA Board Chairman Miles Coff- man will go to intimidate and harass independent-minded members of CA's Board of Directors.
This is the second time in the last six months that they have claimed that Board members have stepped out of line. The irony is that these trumped-up claims are backfiring and are causing people to look more closely at the serious shortcomings of Ms. Brown and Mr. Coff- man.
As the chief operating officer of CA, Ms. Brown has failed in her duty to Board members and to the people of Columbia. Not only do Ms. Brown and her CA staff give Board members bad advice, but they have also been very reluctant to provide timely answers for Board members who are assertive and ask important questions as part of their responsibility for oversight of CA.
And, attempts by certain Board members to obtain information for their constituents is seen by staff as too time-consuming and unnecessary.
This has caused tremendous frustration for Board members, and a few years ago actually led to a Board member resigning in disgust of CA staff's stonewalling tactics. It's no wonder that certain Board members get upset with CA staff.
Meanwhile, Chairman Coff- man, representing Hickory Ridge, has been an embarrassment in our community. His autocratic style, his inexcusable habit of holding secret meetings to discuss public business, and his arrogant "I know better what's good for you" attitude toward Columbia's residents is simply unacceptable.
And to top it off, he thumbs his nose at his constituents by stating that when he votes on the CA Board of Directors, his first priority is to the care and feeding of the CA corporation, not to the constituents who elected him.
Clearly, the severe problems at CA start at the top. The people of Columbia are not fooled by Ms. Brown's and Mr. Coff- man's veiled attempts to divert the blame to others. Columbia deserves better.
OMHS supporters paint different picture
Coverage of the events surrounding our football team's forfeiture of its season has created a portrait of Oakland Mills High School that is inaccurate. We would like to paint a picture that more accurately reflects our school, especially our students.
This fall, 380 students -- out of a total of 1,060 -- participated in extracurricular activities at OMHS. We are proud of our students' level of involvement and commitment to getting the most from their high school experience.
Our students made significant gains in closing the achievement gap on the Maryland School Assessment and the High School Assessment tests. Last year, 83 percent of OMHS graduates went on to pursue a college degree.
Oakland Mills High is the alma mater of numerous National Merit Finalists, National Merit Commended Scholars, National Achievement finalists, Maryland Distinguished Scholars and Maryland Distinguished Scholars of the Arts. Our seniors were offered more than $3.4 million in scholarships last year.
Oakland Mills teams have won state and regional championships in girls and boys soccer, girls and boys track, girls and boys cross country and football. Our "It's Academic" team has won the Baltimore Regional Finals.
Our choir, orchestra, band, and dance company have won regional and national competitions as well. Our fine arts students dazzle us with their creative spirit and their performances.
Programs originated at OMHS, including High Flyers, Alpha Achievers and Young Scholars, have been adopted by other schools in the county. Our science department is recognized as one of the top in the state, with the finest in facilities, equipment and instructional leadership.
Our talented staff has won numerous awards, including the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Educator award and the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership award. Our coaching staff has won recognition through county and regional Coach of the Year awards.
A member of our Fine Arts staff has won a Howie award for Outstanding Fine Arts Education in Howard County and has also been nominated for the Governor's Arts Award.
Over the past year, our administration and faculty have led our students to impressive academic accomplishments in the midst of an extensive renovation and addition to our school facility.
While the story of ineligible athletes has dominated local media coverage since November, it is not the whole story of Oakland Mills High School.
With leadership from our staff and continuing support from the Board of Education and Department of Education officials, including Mike Martirano, Don Disney and now with the assistance and leadership of Dr. Sydney Cousin, we are confident that OMHS will get back on track.
Scorpion Pride is a real and true thing. Our students and staff are weathering this controversy with grace and dignity.
Shayla Adams, president of the senior class at OMHS, spoke for the entire community when she made the following statement at a Board of Education meeting last month: "We are a school, a community and most importantly a family. ... You cannot break us!"
Mr. O'Neill is president of the Oakland Mills High School PTSA. Ms. Tepe is president of the Scorpion Booster Club.