It was a fitting action.
Diane Mikulis was the Board of Education vice chairman, and Frank Aquino was the top vote-getter in the general election among new board members. The two were chosen chairman and vice chairman, respectively, Thursday by their fellow board members.
Mikulis, who has served on the board since 2004 and has been the vice chairman for the past year, said she planned to make sure that all board members get to express their views and get a chance to participate in board procedure.
"Each [member] brings unique perspective," said Mikulis. "I want to maximize that."
Aquino, who is an attorney and general counsel for an environmental consulting and engineering company, barely missed winning a seat on the Howard County school board in 2004 to Mary Kay Sigaty and Mikulis.
Ann DeLacy, president of the Howard County Education Association, said Mikulis and Aquino are "great people." She pointed out that her association endorsed Mikulis in 2004 and Aquino this year.
"I think we'll have a great relationship with them," she said.
Mary Jane Barbato-Grauso, president of the Howard County PTA Council, said she also looked forward to working with the new leadership.
"They have a grounded, down-to-earth, students-first outlook," she said. "That is really important."
About 1,700 students who have not received the hepatitis B and chicken pox vaccines are in danger of being banned from county public schools Jan. 20.
The state is requiring that all students through ninth grade must receive the vaccines to attend school. Since the beginning of the school year, parents have received numerous notices informing them of the new state requirement, said spokeswoman Patti Caplan.
Donna Heller, health services coordinator for the system, said she does not know what more the school system can do to get students immunized.
"We are making appointments, they are missing appoints," Heller said. "We have sent pupil personnel workers to their homes. ... We are trying as hard as we can. We do not want to exclude any students."
The notification efforts have worked to immunize 1,200 students since the beginning of the school year.
"If the child still needs the vaccination, we are encouraging them to notify their family doctors or they can come to the Howard County Health Department immunization clinics," Caplan said.
Two opportunities for students to receive the vaccines will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Burleigh Manor Middle School in Ellicott City and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Howard County Health Department, 7178 Gateway Drive in Columbia.
New school's principal
The Board of Education has named Robert Bruce principal at Veterans Elementary School, which will open in August.
Bruce has worked for the system since 1978 and currently is the principal at Centennial Lane Elementary School.
Bruce has served in several positions since joining the system. He was a teacher at Talbott Springs Elementary, then promoted to assistant principal at Longfellow Elementary. He then took a lateral position at Laurel Woods Elementary School.
He worked as a principal in Carroll County for five years in the early 1990s before returning to Howard County in 1996 as principal of Clemens Crossing Elementary. In 2000, he transferred to Centennial Lane.
Florence Hu, the assistant principal at Worthington Elementary School, will replace Bruce at Centennial Lane.
Hu becomes the system's first Asian principal, according to Caplan.
Hu has been with Howard County since 1999, when she joined the system as a speech pathologist at Long Reach High School. She was promoted to assistant principal at St. John's Lane Elementary in 2000. In 2005 she was transferred to her most recent position at Worthington Elementary.
The changes are effective Jan. 15.
Pupils at Bellows Spring will learn the highs and lows of singing tomorrow through the PTA-sponsored "Introduction to Opera."
The hourlong program will feature Yvette Lewis, a lyric soprano who has performed with the Washington Opera, the Baltimore Opera, the Baltimore Symphony and the Spoleto Festival in Melbourne, Australia.
"This is the first time that some of our students have listened to opera," said Amy Colman, the school's Gifted-and-Talented program resource specialist. "The most important thing is exposing children to music that they do not hear. Even at school it is not something that we look at quite often, but we still want to expose our children to that type of genre."
A program for kindergarten, first-graders and second-graders will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will attend a second program at 2:30 p.m.
Lewis, who works for "SO THIS IS OPERA," a program that teaches youth about the importance of opera, has developed curriculum for the Montgomery County elementary general music guide. She has conducted workshops in Washington, New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland.
"The PTA went out of their way to expose children to diverse arts," Colman said.