The staff at Centennial High School knew something was awry Tuesday when Principal Scott Pfeifer called an impromptu after-school meeting.
"I've never had them get there so quickly," said Pfeifer. "They knew something was happening."
Pfeifer told his staff that he was retiring from the Howard County school system after 34 years. "I think that they were shocked," said the Ellicott City resident. "I don't think anybody expected this."
The staff gave him a standing ovation, Pfeifer said.
Pfeifer, who has been in his current position the past four years, will head the Maryland Department of Education's high school assessment and reform efforts, starting July 1. He is replacing R. Daniel Cunningham, who has been head of the Instructional Assessment Office for 18 months. Cunningham is retiring and joining the staff of the College Board.
Pfeifer said he was approached about the position by state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.
"We are extremely fortunate to have Mr. Pfeifer joining us," Grasmick said in a news release. "He will be able to step right in and maintain our progress."
Pfeifer's new position will require him to work closely with schools statewide as educators attempt to meet new graduation requirements that are linked to the high school assessments.
"I won't be with kids anymore. That was a huge part of the job. I'll really miss that," Pfeifer said. "I've been a principal for a long time. I look forward to sharing that expertise."
Before working at Centennial, Pfeifer served as the first principal of River Hill High School. He also was principal at Atholton High School when it was named a Blue-Ribbon School. In 1993, he received the Milken National Educator Award. Pfeifer is completing a four-year term on the board of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Hollifield Station, Rockburn, and Guilford elementary schools were honored May 21 at the first Healthy Schools Award Ceremony.
The awards were developed by the Howard County Health Department, the school system, School Health Council, the Howard County Board of Education, PTA Council of Howard County and the Howard County Nutrition and Physical Activity Coalition.
Each school received a plaque and $200, according to Lisa de Fernandez, public information officer for the Health Department.
Principals, teachers, parents, the PTA Council and community members nominated schools for the awards.
The two-hour ceremony was held in the Meeting House at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.
Hollifield Station won the nutrition category for the program "Recess Before Lunch," which reversed the order of lunch and recess. As a result, fewer students complained of stomachaches, and meals were eaten slower and completed.
Hollifield Station also won the mental health category for the program "Therapeutic Yoga for Teachers."
Hourlong classes were held for eight weeks to improve the physical fitness of teachers and give them tools to better cope with stress.
Rockburn won the safety/environment health category for its "Safety and Health Expo."
The program was geared toward the ways that adults and children learn. Cyberbullying, Internet safety, and car and bicycle safety were addressed during the expo.
Guilford won the physical activity category for the "Turkey Trot 1-mile Run."
The annual event allows students to run or walk the entire race. Participants trained for the event in their physical education class.
Parents and teachers participated in the event by shouting encouragement to the students and providing them with water at various points of the race.
The school also implemented the "Miller Club," which encourages students to walk or run laps during physical education class.
"Fitness Focus" is a program that allows students to track exercise at home.
"They all had really good programs," de Hernandez said. "It was really hard to choose."
Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin is pleased with the concept.
"It has kids thinking about innovative ways to improve the school environment," said Cousin, who attended the ceremony.
Jackie Congedo, a television reporter from Washington and a Glenelg High School graduate, was scheduled to be the keynote speaker Friday at the sixth Middle School Achievement Expo, which was held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Kossiakoff Center in Laurel.
Congedo started in her craft working with the Gifted and Talented Program resource teacher and media specialist at Glenwood Middle School. A regular contributor to the school's morning news program, Congedo was scheduled to show how Gifted and Talented offerings allow students to develop skills necessary for future careers.