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What’s Your High School’s Signature?

Southern signs on to Preservation and Innovation, with a party

During his senior year at Southern High School, Ryan Smith interned at NASA, checking roof-top instruments that receive data and images from satellites, helping to better understand global climatology. Internships are a key component of Signature programming, introducing students to real-world applications of their high school studies.

It’s not your grandparents’ high school any more. Or your parents’. Or your big sister’s.
    In Anne Arundel County’s 12 high schools, Signature adds a new level of specialization to the way teens learn.
    Signature is the newest addition to a menu of choices county students can make in shaping their education: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; International Baccalaureate; Advanced Placement; Applied Technology; ROTC; Agriculture.
    “Signature moves instruction beyond the three R’s – Reading, wRiting, and ’Rithmetic — to develop 21st century skills in the four C’s — Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication,” says Marilyn Harmon, program director at Southern High School.
    Other specialized programs draw students to magnet schools. But every school has a Signature, and each one is distinctive, developed in community meetings.
    Fort Meade, the county’s first high school to develop its Signature, chose Homeland Security as a pipeline to employment in a region dominated by an expanding military base and the National Security Agency.
    Broadneck defined its Signature as Environmental Literacy in response to its geography as a peninsula bounded by the Magothy and Severn Rivers and Chesapeake Bay.
    “In six public meetings, 300 South County citizens concluded that preserving their regional quality of life was their primary value,” Harmon says. Thus Southern High defined its Signature as Design: Preservation and Innovation.
    “Our theme of By Design helps us imagine how we can use the Bay better, farm better, have a career with a positive impact on our environment and quality of life,” Harmon explains.
    Signature as Design: Preservation and Innovation debuts Thursday, October 11 from 5 to 7pm at Greenstreet Gardens on Rt. 258 in Lothian. Owner Ray Greenstreet, who’s been involved with defining the Signature, “is also its perfect example, with his state-of-the-art greenhouse/propagation operation,” Harmon says.
    You’ll hear a bit about the Signature, from 6 to 6:45pm, from county schools superintendent Kevin Maxwell and Southern High principal Marc Procaccini as well as from Greenstreet.
    The rest of the party is devoted to fun, with the Lothian Ruritan burning burgers, Southern High Culinary Arts students serving veggie dips and, for entertainment, caricature drawings, face painting, corn-hole tossing and moonbouncing.
    Tech Ed students show their Punkin’ Chunkin’ machine; Agriculture Department students display their water filtration system; plus other student demos including historic quilts and the stories behind them. South County businesses and natural resources agencies also show their work.