Montgomery Blair High School

Coordinates: 39°1′5″N 77°0′41″W / 39.01806°N 77.01139°W / 39.01806; -77.01139
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Montgomery Blair High School
51 University Boulevard East


United States
Coordinates39°1′5″N 77°0′41″W / 39.01806°N 77.01139°W / 39.01806; -77.01139
TypePublic (Magnet) Secondary
MottoCrescens Scientia
(To Expand Knowledge)
OversightMontgomery County Public Schools
PrincipalRenay C. Johnson
Facultyapprox. 330
Number of students3,174 (2021–2022)[1]
Campus size42-acre (170,000 m2)
Campus typeSuburban
Color(s)Red and white    
Athletics23 varsity sports
Athletics conferenceMPSSAA Montgomery County League
MascotThe Blazer
PublicationThe Silver Splinter
NewspaperSilver Chips

Montgomery Blair High School (MBHS) is a public high school in Four Corners, Maryland, United States, operated by Montgomery County Public Schools. Its enrollment of 3,220 makes it the largest school in Montgomery County and in the state.[2]

The school is named for Montgomery Blair, a lawyer who represented Dred Scott in his Supreme Court case and later served as Postmaster General under President Abraham Lincoln.[3] Opened in 1925 as Takoma Park–Silver Spring High School, the school changed its name in 1935 when it moved to 313 Wayne Avenue overlooking Sligo Creek in Silver Spring. In 1998, the school moved two miles (3 km) north to the Kay Tract, a long-vacant site just north of the Capital Beltway.

About 20% of the student body is part of one of two magnet programs: the Science, Math, and Computer Science Magnet, and the Communication Arts Program (CAP), which draw students from the Silver Spring area and across Montgomery County.[4] The school is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).

The school sat in the Silver Spring census-designated place until the Four Corners CDP was created after the 2010 U.S. Census.[5][6]


Philadelphia–Chicago campus era (1925–1935)[edit]

The school opened in 1925 as Takoma–Silver Spring High School with 86 students. The 3.8-acre (15,000 m2) campus sat at the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Chicago Avenue in suburban Takoma Park, Maryland.

By the end of the 1920s, the school had added a junior high school (8th and 9th grades) to its senior high school (10th through 12th grades). Growing along with the communities of Silver Spring and Takoma Park, it eventually encompassed kindergarten to 12th grade. By 1934, the school was over-capacity with 450 students, and so, in 1935, the 10th, 11th, and 12 grades moved to a new high school named Montgomery Blair Senior High School. For a time, students, teachers, and administrators commuted between the two campuses. The annual yearbook, Silverlogue, was created around this time.

Wayne Avenue campus era (1935–1998)[edit]

When Montgomery Blair High School's 23.5-acre (95,000 m2) Wayne Avenue campus opened in March 1935, it was the sixth high school in Montgomery County, and the first in the lower county.[7] One of several Montgomery County schools designed during that period by Howard Wright Cutler, the facility then consisted only of the C building, overlooking Sligo Creek. In 1936, the Auxiliary Gymnasium was added, followed by the B building in 1940, and the D building in 1942. MBHS's first football team was founded in 1944, and the War Memorial Stadium opened in 1947.[8] In 1950, the A building was constructed, containing the Blair Library/Media Center. With the addition of the Main Gymnasium/Fieldhouse in 1954, MBHS possessed one of the finest basketball and football facilities in the county.[9] The E building was added in 1959 as an administrative section, followed by the 1969 opening of the 1200-seat auditorium, named for long-time teacher and librarian Elizabeth Stickley.[10] The most recent addition was the automotive shop building in 1973.[citation needed]

During World War II, students from the University of Maryland taught several classes, and in some cases, able senior students taught sophomore classes. The Blair Library created the "Senior Corner" to honor those who died in war. Life magazine featured the school's Victory Corps close order drill team.[11] Before to the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Blair was an all-white school.[12] In 1955, the school began to integrate along with the rest of Montgomery County.[13]

With Silver Spring's growth, Blair's enrollment jumped from 600 students in 1946, to 1900 by 1956, peaking at 2900 in 1965 before being reduced from 1700 to 1400 after rezoning in 1982.[8] Enrollment was around 1,800 when the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program brought 80 new students in the fall of 1985.[14] The Communication Arts Program (CAP) followed in 1987, founded by Alicia Coleman, brought 75 new students. Overcrowding became an issue for Montgomery Blair High School, as portable buildings covered what was once open land and enrollment exceeded the building's capacity of 2,000.[15]

Blair is one of the few U.S. high schools with a .edu domain name, with its internet connection having gone live in the late 1980s.[16]

Four Corners campus era (1998–present)[edit]

The cupola and steeple at the school's Four Corners campus

In 1994, construction began on a new campus on an empty tract of land 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of the Wayne Avenue campus, at the intersection of University Boulevard, Colesville Road, and the Capital Beltway.

In fall 1998, Blair opened on the 42-acre (170,000 m2) Four Corners campus, the largest high-school campus in the county and nearly twice as large as the old Wayne Avenue site. It was designed for 2,830 students.[17]

Blair's Wayne Avenue campus was converted into an elementary and middle school; currently, Sligo Creek Elementary School and Silver Spring International Middle School. The Elizabeth Stickley Auditorium was not included in the conversion plans, and has remained closed and deteriorating since 1997. Several local politicians and leaders, including former Maryland state senator Ida Ruben, current U.S. representative Jamie Raskin and former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, have endorsed projects to restore the auditorium to its former condition.[18]

During the early to mid-2000s, the school population spiked to 3,400 students, rivaling that of some community colleges. Enrollment has since receded to about 2,900 students, but the school still has the largest student population in the county. Eight years after its completion, the school had about 3,400 students, with the overflow handled by up to eight portable classrooms.

Enrollment decreased slightly due to the opening of other schools and the creation of the Downcounty Consortium. Two portables were removed at the beginning of the 2006–2007 school year, and all were gone by April 2010, when enrollment was 2,788.

2008 brought digital Promethean boards to many classrooms.

Notable events[edit]

U.S. President George W. Bush and Ben Stein, a 1962 alumnus of the school, attend a June 2005 event at the school.

In April 1992, Montgomery Blair High School was the first high school in the nation to sponsor a display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.[19] More than 5,000 children, their families, teachers and friends came to see the Quilt.[20][21][22][23][24]

The school has been a stop for politicians because of the school's diversity, strong academic programs, and proximity to the nation's capital. Some notable visits include:

On June 23, 2005, President George W. Bush held a town-hall-style event at the school on short notice to promote his plan to partially privatize Social Security. Students and the general public were barred from attending. About 400 community members, students, and union members protested Bush's proposals on the public sidewalk outside the school, rebuffing police attempts to persuade them to move to a park more than a block away.[28][29]

During the 2010–2011 school year, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke to a packed auditorium of students about his upcoming film and his life, then privately with the varsity and junior varsity basketball teams.[30]

On February 26, 2018, U.S. Congressmen Jamie Raskin and Ted Deutch brought survivors of the Parkland high school shooting to meet with Blair students.[31]

In October 2023, the school day was delayed or disrupted on three separate days by phoned-in bomb threats that were discovered to be hoaxes by a 12-year-old child.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38]


An aerial photograph of Four Corners campus
A sundial was added to the school's main courtyard in March 2006

The school's campus covers 42 acres between the Capital Beltway, U.S. Route 29, and Maryland Route 193 in Silver Spring's Four Corners neighborhood. The school contains 386,567 sq ft (35,913.2 m2) of space and was designed for 2,830 students.[17] Eight portable classrooms were erected and then removed in the 2010s as student population grew and then receded. Four new portables were added in the 2017–2018 school year to handle another enrollment spike.

The school has baseball and softball fields to the east of the main building as well as Blazer Stadium which serves as the home of the school's football, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse teams.

The main building has three courtyards and a 750-seat auditorium. A greenhouse and accompanying patio is on the second floor on the west side for horticulture classes. The main hallway of the school, "Blair Boulevard", displays flags from many countries, representing its diverse student body.

In 2022, Blair is expected to undergo construction for a new gym, a larger Student Activity Center and 18 new classrooms.[39]


The school's faculty courtyard

In 2021, MBHS was ranked 49th in Maryland and 2,269th nationally by U.S. News & World Report.[40] The school has an Honors Program and an Advanced Placement Program.

Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program[edit]

In 1985, Montgomery County Public Schools opened its first Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program at Blair.[41] At the time, Blair had the highest minority population among the high schools in the county and the lowest standardized test scores.[41] The school board conducted a survey to decide that a specialized science magnet program would attract high-achieving white and Asian students to Blair.[42] Although there was criticism of the program from some parents and students, the leaders of the PTA and the principal supported the program, noting that by 1989 more families were staying in the neighborhood to attend Blair and fewer students were seeking to transfer out.[41] In 1993, the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, Dr. John Demetrius Demarcus Aurelius Lancelot III Jr., told The New York Times, "I have never seen a high school's image turn around so quickly."[42]

Since its inception, the Magnet has offered accelerated, interdisciplinary courses in science, mathematics, and computer science.[41][43] The Magnet offers dozens of electives, including Quantum Physics, Complex Analysis, Thermodynamics, Discrete Mathematics, Marine Biology, 3D Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence, Origins of Science, and Organic Chemistry as of 2022.[44] Qualified students who are not in the program can and do enroll in its elective courses. In their senior year, Magnet students complete research projects and optionally enter into the Science Talent Search, in which the program has a long history of success.[42][45] In 2017, the Magnet had a mean SAT score of 1531 and a mean composite ACT score of 35,[46] both of which are higher than any high school in the nation overall.[47]

The Blair Magnet is open to students from the southern and eastern areas of Montgomery County, who are selected through a competitive application and testing process, a program at Poolesville High School provides a similar curriculum for students in the northern and western areas of Montgomery County.[43]

The Magnet program has been criticized for being overwhelmingly white and Asian, enrolling few black and Hispanic students.[48][49] The Magnet was threatened with proposed budget cuts in 2008, but after student protests, the most severe cuts were repealed.[50][51]

In 2018, a retired Magnet teacher was accused of sexual harassment by many former students.[52]

Communication Arts Program[edit]

The Communication Arts Program (CAP) at was established at Blair soon after the Magnet, in 1988.[53] It strives to provide a comprehensive educational approach to the humanities by offering accelerated, interdisciplinary courses in English, social studies, and media for participating students. CAP is open to students in the Downcounty Consortium and admission is competitive by application including a short essay.[54]

CAP offers courses in drama, photography, video production, history, government, English literature, writing composition, journalism and research. The number of CAP classes decreases by year, until students only complete one CAP class in 12th grade. Freshmen and sophomores are sorted into cohorts with which they will attend all of their CAP classes. The curriculum frequently builds off of existing Advanced Placement courses but uses the program's resources to add interdisciplinary experiences, such as a simulated presidential election that occurs over the course of a week at end of 10th grade, in which some students serve as candidates and others as campaign staff and reporters. CAP students also maintain portfolios of their work throughout the four years, which must include independent and service-based projects done outside of school. In 12th grade, they must successfully defend the portfolio's contents to a faculty committee in order to complete the program and graduate with a CAP Diploma.[55]

English Department[edit]

In addition to offering standard English courses, the English Department also offers AP courses in Language and Literature, as well as studies in dramatics, journalism, and theater.

Fine Arts Department[edit]

The Fine Arts Department consists of two sub-departments of Music and Visual Arts. The Music Department includes instrumental music, choral music, and general music. Each year the department hosts a fine arts festival, in which students showcase their artistic talent.

Instrumental Music Department[edit]

MBHS's Instrumental Music Department consists of three orchestras, three bands, and two jazz bands. The orchestras are the Chamber Orchestra (Honors), Symphonic Orchestra, and Concert Orchestra. The bands include Wind Ensemble (Honors), Symphonic Band, and Concert Band. The jazz ensembles are Advanced Jazz Ensemble (Honors), and Jazz Lab Band. In addition, the music program also contains a marching band and a theatrical pit orchestra, as well as an audio library and a professional recording studio.

In 2014, MBHS's Chamber Orchestra hosted British Composer Paul Lewis as a Composer-in-Residence funded by the Wolf Trap Foundation. Students played the world premiere of a 5-movement piece called "Salute the Silents"[citation needed].

Choral Music Department[edit]

The Choral Music Department consists of Chorus, Show Choir, Chamber Choir (Honors), a Cabaret, and InToneNation, an a cappella group.

General Music Department[edit]

The General Music Department offers studies in music history, technology, business, composition, and theory. There are also courses offered in solo and ensemble techniques for piano and guitar playing.

Visual Arts Department[edit]

MBHS's Visual Arts Department offers studies in art & culture, ceramics & sculpture, digital art, photography, and studio art.

Foreign Language Department[edit]

The Foreign Language Department offers classes up to AP-level in Spanish and French, and up to honors-level in Japanese and Arabic. It has recently added American Sign Language (ASL), which offer classes up to ASL 3.

Mathematics Department[edit]

The Mathematics Department offers a variety of honors- and AP-level courses, including: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus, Calculus, Statistics, and Business Mathematics.

Science Department[edit]

The Science Department contains sub-departments in the core sciences of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Science.

Social Studies Department[edit]

MBHS's Social Studies Department offers honors and AP-level U.S. History, American Government and Politics, and World History, the department also offers elective courses such as African American History, Latin American History, European History, Middle East History, Comparative Government, Comparative religion, Cultural Anthropology, Administration of Justice, International Human Rights, Peace Studies Seminar, Economics, and Psychology. It was also the first in the region to offer courses in Women's Studies and the History of Hip-Hop.


The student athletics program offers 23 varsity and 8 junior varsity sports, with a total of 42 teams:

  • * indicates a sport for which there is also a junior varsity team.
  • ^ indicates a sport that is not officially sanctioned by the school and is thus considered a club team.

Student activities and traditions[edit]

MBHS has more than 95 teams or clubs, some of which are entirely student-run, including the Blair Radio Station, "Blazer Pride" Marching Band, Debate Team, Jewish Culture Club, and Philosophy Club. Popular activities include: American Computer Science League, Envirothon, Science Bowl, Ocean Science Bowl, Doodle4Google, and Youth and Government.[56]


MBHS has two student news publications: Silver Chips, a self-funded print newspaper; and Silver Chips Online, an online publication that received the National Scholastic Press Association Online Pacemaker Award in 2004, 2005, and 2006.[57][58][59]

Blair also publishes Silver Quill, a literary arts magazine whose annual issue is distributed at the end of the year; and Silver Splinter, a satirical website.[60][61]

Computer team[edit]

Montgomery Blair's computer team specializes in advanced computer science topics and programming algorithms that extend the classroom curriculum. Upperclass students teach new and complex algorithms, data structures, and programming techniques. The team also delves into other miscellaneous theoretical computer science topics including turing machines, nondeterministic polynomial time, random number generation, assembly language, lambda calculus, and relational databases. The Computer Team participates in the University of Pennsylvania Programming Contest, Loyola Programming Contest, University of Maryland Programming Contest, and the United States of America Computing Olympiad (USACO). The Computer Team won the ACSL All-Star Competition Senior Division in 1991, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2013.[62]

Robotics team[edit]

MBHS has a FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 449, nicknamed "The Blair Robot Project" after the film The Blair Witch Project. The team was founded in 2000, and has competed in every year since except 2005.[63]


MBHS hosts Puzzlepalooza, a puzzle tournament, each May since 2010 (except the COVID-19 pandemic years of 2020 and 2021). Over four days, teams have 12 hours to complete multiple-leveled puzzles to find a phrase that figures in the final puzzle.[64]

Quiz bowl[edit]

MBHS' quiz bowl team competes in the local It's Academic competition. It won the It's Academic Super Bowl in 1995,[65] 2017,[66] and 2018.[67] and has participated several times in the High School National Championship Tournament.[68]

Science bowl[edit]

MBHS has a science bowl team that consistently places well in the Maryland Science Bowl and won the National Science Bowl in 1999 and 2016[69] and the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in 2018.[70]

History bowl[edit]

The Montgomery Blair History Bowl team won the National History Bowl Junior Varsity Championship in 2020[71] and the Philadelphia Championships in 2023.[72]


Established in 2016, BlackCAP is a student-run movement that helps students of color enter and thrive in Montgomery County Public School application programs. It includes a safe space for students of color in magnet programs and mentoring programs at Parkland Middle School and Silver Spring International Middle School.[73][74]

Notable alumni[edit]

Blair has had many notable alumni in public service, the entertainment industry, sports, media, business, and academics.[75][76][77][78]


Arts and entertainment[edit]



Journalism and media[edit]

Politics and public service[edit]


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