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Arundel Pitches Signature Program to Freshmen

The school held a leadership conference featuring an address by councilman Jamie Benoit and had breakout sessions to introduce them to the school's Community Development and Global Citizenship signature program.

Freshmen at Arundel High School got their first look at the school’s signature program on Tuesday, with visits from guest speakers and breakout sessions on topics ranging from development to Chinese language.

The “Glocal Leadership Conference” was designed to introduce ninth-graders to the school’s Community Development and Global Citizenship program, and encourage them to sign up for an introductory course next year.

The day began with a keynote address from Jamie Benoit, the county council member from District 4 and an Arundel High graduate.

“This is something I didn’t have, and it’s a great, great program,” he said. “We’re getting them in front of adults, and teaching them to take the long view. And hopefully, we’ll get them to be more civic-minded and thinking about bettering themselves while bettering the community.”

About 100 ninth-graders met with Benoit, then broke out into smaller sessions with people involved in fields related to the signature program.

Breakout sessions included a presentation and planning exercise surrounding development of the Odenton Town Center. County planner Kevin Gambrill walked students through the idea of building a “sustainable” community, and led them in a mock re-planning of the Odenton Shopping Center.

There were additional sessions on conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, global development, medicine, justice and cultural proficiency.

Now in its second full year, the signature program includes a main introductory course for 10th-graders, plus a series of electives, clubs and extracurricular activities. About 25 students are enrolled in the introductory “Explorations” course.

Barbara Dziedzic, the lead teacher for the signature program, said the school would like to expand the program to include a wider range of classes, but can’t do it until more students sign up.

“Our primary focus is once we increase enrollment, we can then increase enrollment in these electives that we want to run, but don’t necessarily have enough kids to run yet,” Dziedzic said.

Dziedzic also said the school has asked the Board of Education to consider making the signature introductory course a weighted class, in order to attract academic-minded students.  

Upcoming events tied to the signature program include an International Fair on Thursday at 7 p.m., a diversity conference on Nov. 30 and a visit from Fulbright Scholars on Dec. 2.

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