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|Montgomery Blair High School|
51 University Boulevard East
|Type||Public (Magnet) Secondary|
(To Expand Knowledge)
|Oversight||Montgomery County Public Schools|
|Principal||Renay C. Johnson|
|Number of students||3,174 (2021–2022)|
|Campus size||42-acre (170,000 m2)|
|Color(s)||Red and white|
|Athletics||23 varsity sports|
|Athletics conference||MPSSAA Montgomery County League|
|Publication||The Silver Splinter|
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.
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. 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. The school is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).
Philadelphia–Chicago campus era (1925–1935)
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)
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. 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. 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. 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. The most recent addition was the automotive shop building in 1973.
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. Before to the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Blair was an all-white school. In 1955, the school began to integrate along with the rest of Montgomery County.
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. Enrollment was around 1,800 when the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program brought 80 new students in the fall of 1985. 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.
Four Corners campus era (1998–present)
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.
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.
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.
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. More than 5,000 children, their families, teachers and friends came to see the Quilt.
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:
- February 5, 1998: President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
- March 7, 2003: United States Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Secretary of Education Rod Paige
- June 1, 2016: Secretary of State John Kerry discussed ocean conservation
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.
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.
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. 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 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.
Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program
In 1985, Montgomery County Public Schools opened its first Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program at Blair. At the time, Blair had the highest minority population among the high schools in the county and the lowest standardized test scores. The school board conducted a survey to decide that a specialized science magnet program would attract high-achieving white and Asian students to Blair. 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. 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."
Since its inception, the Magnet has offered accelerated, interdisciplinary courses in science, mathematics, and computer science. 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. 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. In 2017, the Magnet had a mean SAT score of 1531 and a mean composite ACT score of 35, both of which are higher than any high school in the nation overall.
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.
The Magnet program has been criticized for being overwhelmingly white and Asian, enrolling few black and Hispanic students. The Magnet was threatened with proposed budget cuts in 2008, but after student protests, the most severe cuts were repealed.
In 2018, a retired Magnet teacher was accused of sexual harassment by many former students.
Communication Arts Program
The Communication Arts Program (CAP) at was established at Blair soon after the Magnet, in 1988. 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.
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.
Fine Arts Department
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
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".
Choral Music Department
General Music Department
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
MBHS's Visual Arts Department offers studies in art & culture, ceramics & sculpture, digital art, photography, and studio art.
Foreign Language Department
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.
Social Studies Department
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.
- * 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MBHS' quiz bowl team competes in the local It's Academic competition. It won the It's Academic Super Bowl in 1995, 2017, and 2018. and has participated several times in the High School National Championship Tournament.
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.
- Maneesh Agrawala, computer science professor at Stanford University and 2009 MacArthur Fellowship recipient
- Malcolm Beasley, applied physics professor at Stanford University and former American Physical Society president
- Alexander Berg, computer science associate professor at the University of California, Irvine and computer vision researcher at Meta AI
- Jonah Berger, author and marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
- Lorrie Cranor, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission
- Samit Dasgupta, mathematics professor at Duke University
- Jacob Lurie, mathematics professor at Harvard University, winner of MacArthur Fellowship, and Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics
- Stephen Vladeck, law professor at University of Texas School of Law and expert on the prosecution of war crimes
- Joshua Weitz, biology professor at Georgia Tech and American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow
Arts and entertainment
- Cynthia Addai-Robinson, television actress
- Tyrone Giordano, film and stage actor
- Goldie Hawn, Oscar-winning actress
- Ron Holloway, jazz saxophonist
- Eric Hutchinson, singer-songwriter
- Rosamond S. King, poet and literary theorist
- Joshua Oppenheimer (finished high school in New Mexico), filmmaker
- Chuck Redd, jazz percussionist
- Nora Roberts, romance novelist
- Sylvester Stallone, American actor, screenwriter, and film director (attended briefly before moving to Philadelphia)
- Ben Stein, economist, actor, commentator, and White House speechwriter to U.S. President Richard Nixon
- Rebecca Sugar (traveled to Albert Einstein High School for Visual Art Center Program), artist, composer, and director
- Lisa Ann Walter, actress and comedian
- Steve Barber, former professional baseball player
- Tom Brown, former baseball player for the Washington Senators and former football player for the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins
- Dominique Dawes (finished high school in Gaithersburg), former Olympic gymnast
- Steve Francis (completed GED), former professional basketball player
- Kelli Hill, former USA Women's Gymnastics Teams coach
- Wei-Hwa Huang, four-time World Puzzle Champion
- Sonny Jackson, former professional baseball player, an early athlete of color at Blair
- Johnny Klippstein, former professional baseball player and 1959 World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jake Rozhansky, professional soccer player, New England Revolution II
- Visanthe Shiancoe, former professional football player
- Charlene Thomas-Swinson, professional basketball player, Las Vegas Aces
- Willis Wilson, former college basketball head coach]
- Bob Windsor, former professional football player, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers
- David Vanterpool, former professional basketball player and assistant coach
- Morgan Wootten, head basketball coach at DeMatha Catholic High School with five national championships as a head coach
- Matías Duarte, Google executive
- Shervin Pishevar, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and co-founder of HyperOffice and Hyperloop One
- Chris T. Sullivan, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse
Journalism and media
- Erik Agard, crossword puzzle editor at USA Today
- Carl Bernstein, journalist and author who uncovered the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post
- Kiran Chetry, former television news anchor at Fox News and CNN
- Connie Chung, journalist and television news anchor, CBS Evening News
- Jon Fortt, CNBC anchor
- Emily Gould, author and former co-editor of Gawker
- Rick Leventhal, former senior correspondent at Fox News Channel
- Tom Marr, former Baltimore Orioles radio broadcaster and WCBM radio host
- Donna Richardson, fitness and aerobics instructor, author, and ESPN commentator
- Inga Rundvold, former broadcast reporter at WRC-TV
- Eric Shansby, cartoonist at The Washington Post
- Daniel Zwerdling, former journalist at NPR
Politics and public service
- Tyras S. Athey, former member of the Maryland House of Delegates and Secretary of State of Maryland
- William A. Bronrott, former member of the Maryland House of Delegates
- Robin Ficker, former member of the Maryland House of Delegates
- Stan Greenberg, Democratic Party pollster and political strategist for Bill Clinton
- Thomas R. Norris, U.S. Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient for his actions during the Vietnam War
- William Addams Reitwiesner, genealogist and Library of Congress employee
- Craig L. Rice, former Montgomery County Councilmember and member of the Maryland House of Delegates
- Jeff Waldstreicher, member of the Maryland Senate
- Christopher Williams, NASA astronaut candidate
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Montgomery Blair Senior High School, Silver Spring, Md., Montgomery County's finest school building, was dedicated yesterday afternoon with several hundred students and residents of the community attending the exercises.
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The National Symphony Orchestra, under Dr. Howard Mitchell, will present two young people's concerts at the new gymnasium of Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Md.
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Elizabeth Waller Stickley, 92, a former teacher who retired in 1970 as librarian at Montgomery Blair High School, died of cardiopulmonary failure Sept. 26 at a nursing home in Lynchburg, Va. . . . The Blair auditorium was dedicated in her name after she retired.
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Even my high school's namesake, Montgomery Blair, Lincoln's Postmaster General, receives significant attention in Goodwin's story.
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