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River Hill High principal says body paint is fine -- as long as you are fully clothed

The Baltimore Sun

Watch that team spirit, River Hill.

Students have been warned that they will be turned away from athletic events if they decide to substitute body paint for shirts.

Principal William Ryan's rule has upset some students at the high school.

Ryan clarified last week that body paint is not banned at school sporting events.

"You [just] have to have clothes on [when you wear body paint]," Ryan said. "You can paint your body, hair and toenails if you want, but you have to be fully clothed."

Ryan said he is enforcing a school system policy.

"Any time we have a school function, school rules apply," Ryan said. "If you come drunk to a dance or game, school rules apply. Board policy would be in place."

Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the school system, said there is nothing in the official dress code that prevents shirtless students from dressing in body paint.

"It is his interpretation of the dress code," Caplan said. "The principals do have the authority to be stricter than the policy requires."

Traffic signal

It has been a long time coming, but it appears that there will finally be a light at the end of the tunnel for Marriotts Ridge High School, so to speak.

The light, which will be installed at Route 99 and Woodford Drive, follows a series of complaints and accidents near the Marriottsville school.

In 2006, the State Highway Administration promised that the intersection would get a traffic light during spring 2007. Spring came and went.

Pat Saunderson, principal of the school, recently told parents that the intersection near the school would get the light in October.

"We are very much looking forward to the traffic-light installation," Saunderson said last week. "It sounds like we should have it in the next two weeks."

Last school year, there were three accidents at the intersection; none involved Marriotts Ridge students, Saunderson said.

"It will definitely alleviate traffic concerns as far as safety, and for expedience sakes," Saunderson said.

The intersection is especially busy in the mornings and afternoons because cars and buses traveling to and from Marriotts Ridge and Mount View Middle School must pass through it.

County Councilwoman Courtney Watson, a parent at the school, along with PTA President Jennifer Burgy, were instrumental in pushing for the light, according to Saunderson. In addition, Saunderson thanked central office personnel and the Howard County Police Department for providing additional officers to monitor traffic at the intersection.

"We don't have to worry about anyone being late to school, nor will there be the possibility of someone being hurt out there," he said.

Capital budget

Mount Hebron High School likely will be a source of contention Thursday, when the board hosts a public hearing and work session for the 2009 capital budget.

The hearing and work session begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Board of Education in Ellicott City.

Mount Hebron parents are gearing up for the meeting.

Mount Hebron's Back to School Night was scheduled Thursday evening, but school officials moved it to Sept. 26 to avoid a conflict. Parents were informed of the change through an eSchoolnewsletter that was sent out last week.

Parents are likely to speak out against the school system's $50 million plan to renovate Mount Hebron.

Although the exact specifications of the plan have not been established, top school system officials have said that the project will mirror a renovation plan supported by Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin this year. Some parents want a replacement school that mirrors new facilities such as Marriotts Ridge, which opened in August 2005.

A tech visit

Cousin scheduled visits to Jeffers Hill Elementary and Atholton High last week to monitor the effects of adding technology teachers to most schools this year.

Howard County added 53 technology teachers to its schools. The new positions allow teachers to have an additional hour of planning time each week.

Cousin went to the schools to "talk firsthand with a couple of the technology teachers about their role in the schools and how things are going," Caplan said. "He likes to have that face-to-face with the staff. It keeps him informed. It's one thing to see a technology teacher as a line item on the budget, it's another to see them at work in the school."

Cousin also met with media specialist at each school.

"They work together," Caplan said. "That is why he is meeting with both. They complement each other in the work they do."


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