Principal's Perspective Links

Christopher Berry
Blake Blue Note
June 2013

This month’s Blue Note is traditionally the transitional one. For parents of graduating seniors, it will be one of the last communications mailed to you from Blake; while for parents of in-coming ninth graders, it is one of the very first.

Saying good-bye to the senior class is always difficult for us at Blake. The Class of 2013 has been a good group for four years; well represented with smart, talented, funny and unique students. As they move ahead with their plans for the future, our very best wishes go with them for success in the world of post-secondary education, the military and the world of work.

When I asked a senior recently what she would miss most about Blake, she thought about it a while before responding. “It would be easy for me to say some important event like prom or homecoming activities. But mostly, I think I’m going to miss how unpredictably wonderful most of my classes were. I feel like I lucked out with my teachers and I’m glad they convinced me to do some of the things I did.” Our hope is that all of the members of this class has had many of the same experiences, and remembers Blake equally as fondly.

Graduation was Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. at DAR Constitution Hall. The senior class advisors and class officers worked extremely hard to ensure a wonderful commencement ceremony for our graduates, their family and friends. The past 12 graduation exercises have been outstanding in every way, and Blake is noted for its classic, timely and meaningful ceremony. I am certain we will continue the tradition we have established.

There is another group graduating this June, as well. Many parents of seniors will also be transitioning from Blake. There are so many people who have given so freely of their time over the years, many going back over many years, to shortly after the school was even opened. I thank the outstanding parents who truly have made a difference by their unwavering support for our school community. If I were to name names in this article, I would surely leave out the contribution of many. The PTSA, Booster Club, various other clubs and organization have been bolstered for many years by the volunteerism and leadership of this parent class—so many have been pillars of support through the years. While the direct tie may be gone, I hope our alumni parents will come to school events, and you should get a bit nostalgic and are missing high school, you are always welcome.

Final exams begin for all students in grades 9-11 in early June. We will provide a letter to all parents with detailed instructions, but the basic information is as follows: Final exam review day is Friday, June 7th. Exams are mandatory and two hours in length for English, math, science, social studies, foreign language and some technology classes. Final exams count for 25 percent of the final semester grade.

Exams start Monday, June 10 for periods 1 and 2; Tuesday, June 11 for periods 3 and 4; Wednesday, June 12 for periods 5 and 6; and Thursday, June 13 for period 7 and make-up exams. Make-up exams continue by appoint-ment on Friday, June 14. Students are not expected to come to school when they do not have an exam. It is extremely difficult to honor requests for students to take exams early as teachers will be in class and will not have two-hour blocks of time to monitor student exams. For emergency situations, a request to take an exam early must be submitted in writing to me.

While students are on vacation in the summer, we do offer a special program for our incoming 9th grade students to help them become acquainted with Blake before the new school year begins. 9th grade is an important year because a smooth transition to high school starts a student on the path to academic success and positive social experiences. Incoming Blake students can get a running start on being ready for the challenges of high school by enrolling in our unique summer program.

High School 101 eases the transition from middle school and builds connections to Blake that will be in place when the academic year begins. New 9th grade “Bengals” will be ready to learn from the first day of school, bolstered by the academic support and activities in High School 101.

High School 101 is a week filled with useful information, self-discovery, skill-building and new friends—all delivered in a fun atmosphere of hands-on activities. The program features:

  • Opportunities to make new friends
  • Academic support for REQUIRED summer reading and math assignments
  • Orientation to the Blake High School building and staff
  • Strategies for academic success
  • Sports activities and teambuilding

I strongly encourage incoming 9th graders to participate in the program, particularly those coming from private schools, who may not know as many of their incoming classmates. There will be two one-week sessions: July 22-26 and August 5-9. The program cost is nominal ($120.00), but enrollment will be capped at 75 students for each session. Additional information can be found on our website at:

Fall sports practices begin Saturday, August 17, 2013. Please be aware that the State of Maryland is considering moving up the start date to Wednesday, August 14. Please check our website to to see if that change is finalized.

Orientation for incoming 9th graders is Thursday, August 22. Students will board the buses and participate in a half-day program where they will go through their actual schedule, learn about activities and get a feel for high school. There is also an informational meeting for 9th grade parents that same evening at 7:00 pm in the Auditorium. The first day of school for students is August 26, 2013.

Summer reading and math packet information is also available on our website; I strongly urge students to begin this important process early in the summer and not put it off to the last minute.
Summer reading is an MCPS requirement and a way to reinforce the importance of reading to our students.

A few reminders for parents: In our ever changing world of communication, we often change phone numbers and contact information on a regular basis. As the school year ends, if any of your numbers has changed over the past school year, consider calling the main office at 301-879-1300 to update your contact information in our system database and with the attendance office. Sometimes important information is missed by parents because they do not make these changes.

Students will soon receive a copy of their course schedule for 2013-14. If this schedule does not reflect the courses that your student has elected, please call the guidance office during the summer at 301-879-1310 to consult with your child’s counselor. Late August is not the optimal time to attempt to make these changes since classes are set, and flexibility for change is minimal.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to offer my thanks to every one of you who have made this a memorable year at Blake High School. This year, more than ever, has afforded me the opportunity to know so many more students and their families. It has allowed me to assist you on a personal level to a greater degree. And it has only served to reinforce for me that we have a committed staff, and student and parent community in our midst every day. Your advice and input to me is sincere and helpful. I appreciate your frankness when you have a concern, and I hope you have come to know that I work to be equally as straightforward and productive for the sake of your children.

Despite the difficulties and seeming constant changes in the world of education, I see great days ahead for our school with your support. It begins with what we, as a community, experience to a greater degree: working respectfully together, keeping “in the know”, and working to figure out how and where we all can make a difference. Have a wonderful, relaxing summer!

Last Updated (6/1/13)

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James Hubert Blake High School

300 Norwood Road - Silver Spring, MD - 20905 | Directions | MCPS

Phone: 301-879-1300
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