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First-grader Anthony Davila, 6, joins the line of Laurel Elementary students outside the former Greenbelt Middle School Tuesday, Sept. 4, after students were bused to Greenbelt from Laurel Elementary, which is closed due to on-going construction work.
First-grader Anthony Davila, 6, joins the line of Laurel Elementary students outside the former Greenbelt Middle School Tuesday, Sept. 4, after students were bused to Greenbelt from Laurel Elementary, which is closed due to on-going construction work. (Photo by Nate Pesce, Patuxent Publishing)

After three weeks at the former Greenbelt Middle School, students at Laurel Elementary returned to their neighborhood school Monday.

"It's fabulous," said Laurel Principal Melinda Lee. "We have more time, that's one of the pluses of being back here. Just being all together, it's wonderful."

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The result of massive renovations at the school, which is converting the open pods into walled classrooms, the displacement was announced only two days before the first day of school last month. Over the course of the past three weeks, Laurel students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade were bused to the old Greenbelt Middle School, which was empty after those students moved to a new school. Laurel Elementary pre-kindergartners were bused to nearby Scotchtown Hills Elementary.

Now, after several delays, the students have all returned to Laurel.

"We still have some things that need to be moved back, but we're teaching and students are learning, so the organization bit can come a bit later," Lee said. "It's like moving from house to house; there's a corner with boxes, and every day you unpack a box, and hopefully, we'll be settled at the end of the week."

Second- and third-grade students are still in relocatable classrooms outside as they wait for construction on their pods to be completed. A wave of students are expected to move back into the school later this fall, and another this spring.

Laurel High hosts shredding event

Area residents are encouraged to bring any old bills, documents and unwanted paper to a shredding event at Laurel High, 8000 Cherry Lane, on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Unlimited shredding is available, and $5 donations will benefit the high school's Green Club.

School system joint winner of character education award

The Prince George's County Public Schools have been named a joint winner of Maryland Center for Character Education's annual school system award, the system announced last week.

The system shares the award with St. Mary's County Public School System.

The award recognizes a district's ability to incorporate character and ethical values — like justice, diligence, compassion, respect and courage — into the classroom setting.

The school system incorporates character development into academics and sports with initiatives like peer mediation, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports — used at Laurel schools like Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School — and the "Character Counts" program.

"Our goals of high student achievement and highly effective teaching are meaningless without safe and supportive schools," Board of Education Chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs said in a news release. "By promoting character education, we encourage intellectual, emotional and ethical development to help our students become responsible and contributing members of society."

Both Prince George's and St. Mary's school systems will be honored with the Maryland School System Award Oct. 4 at an awards ceremony at Stevenson University in Owings Mills.

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Prince George's schools named finalist for urban education award

Prince George's County Public Schools is one of three school districts across the country named as finalists for the 2012 National School Boards Association's Council of Urban Boards of Education Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence.

The Council of Urban Boards of Education, or CUBE, every year showcases excellence in school board governance from boards focused on policymaking, accountability and leadership to improve the quality of education for its students. The finalists were selected according to four criteria: board governance, building civic capacity, closing the achievement gap and demonstrated success of academic excellence.

Prince George's is one of two systems in Maryland named finalists for the award. The other, the Baltimore City Schools, received the award in 2010.

The award will be presented Oct. 6 during the CUBE annual conference in Atlanta.

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