Weekend Scientists inspired by the best in their fields Lighting up the holidays, limb to limb Community, Page B-1 Sports, Page B-5 Friday, November 28, 2014 Established 1971 n 75¢ Calvert County, Maryland Harrison Center shut down for repairs The toughest verdict nn Temporary measure is result of summer storm that affected electrical system in performance center By SARA NEWMAN Staff writer Staff illustration by DARWIN WEIGEL nn When the court system and mental illness intersect, it’s complicated By ANDREA FRAZIER Staff writer At the August 2014 sentencing hearing for a 24-year-old Lusby man accused of attempting to murder his neighbor two years before, an attorney called the attack “unde- served and savage … harrowing and very nearly more tragic.” But it was not the prosecutor who delivered that particular harsh assessment of the defendant’s actions — repeatedly striking the victim in the head with a paving stone — that day during his closing argument. Rather, it was Jarel Stepney’s own public defender, Richard Rydelek. Rydelek then reiterated the point that permeated the case for years: While Stepney, unprovoked, had nearly killed a man, he himself also was a victim. The motives for his client’s actions, the Calvert public defender said, have “no explanation that exists in the real world.” Instead, they stemmed from a thenunmedicated mental illness. Earlier in the proceedings, a clinical and forensic psychologist who evaluated Stepney after the attack testified that Stepney suffered from bipolar disorder, which manifested itself in delusions both paranoid (among them, the conviction that his family mem- bers were poisoning his food) and grandiose (one was a belief that he had 151 children, when in fact he had none), as well as hallucinations. At the time he knocked the neighbor down with a punch and proceeded to beat him with the paving stone, Rydelek argued, Stepney was in the throes of the second acute psychotic decomposition he had experienced, his life ostensibly a “vortex of chaos. He was living in his own private See MENTAL, Page A-5 Schools confront standardized testing gap nn Shift to new standards has teachers wary By JEREMY BAUER-WOLF Staff writer The Maryland State Department of Education is attempting to alleviate challenges school systems face as they transition to a new Giving CHOPPs charity grows in its second year A-4 Inside CommunityB-1 Editorial A-8 ObituariesA-7 Sports B-5 Vol. 42, No. 93 3 sections Copyright 2014 Southern Maryland Newspapers standardized test. Statewide, schools are in the process of leaving behind High School Assessments, a standardized test and current graduation requirement for students, while concurrently administering the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test in English and algebra, fostering confusion among students and teachers. FRIDAY Northern softball gets rings PARCC complies with the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards — the state version of the Common Core Standards — and will be taken by students in grades 3 through 11 this year. MSDE has stated that the PARCC will replace the HSA, though the state board of education voted Oct. 28 that the PARCC will not serve as a graduation requirement until the 2016-17 school year. The change will be published to the Maryland Register. “Our two-year plan will allow our students and teachers to become more knowledgeable in the more rigorous standards during the transition,” Mary Kay Finan, vice president of the See TESTS, Page A-9 Performances at the Mary D. Harrison Cultural Arts Center in Owings will move to other locations for a few months, as the electronic system that controls the stage lighting and sound system will need to be replaced after it was badly damaged in a lightning storm over the summer. According to Tuck Powers, director of school facili- ties for Calvert County Public Schools, lightning struck the building in July and affected the electronic system used for performances. Powers said facilities staff did not realize more significant damage had been done until early to midOctober, when the center was needed for school and outside performances. Powers presented the situation to members of the Calvert County Board of EducaSee REPAIRS, Page A-7 Commissioners support 2 more legislative requests nn Include changes in project bidding, property acquisition By SARAH FLEISCHMAN Staff writer A new legislative request was presented at the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday after 11 initially had been introduced at the previous week’s meeting. The new request, which came from the Department of Finance and Budget, sought to increase the exemption from competitive bidding from $15,000 to $100,000, to allow the choice of notice of publication to a newspaper’s print media or Internet-based advertising and to allow bid opening to immediately follow the end of the two-week advertising period. The request is intended to shorten the time between advertising a project for bids See REQUESTS, Page A-7 Students give back, give thanks nn Tidewater families donate to those in need By SARA NEWMAN Staff writer Traffic halted along Main Street in Prince Frederick on Tuesday when a wagon trail of students and their families crossed from Trinity United Methodist Church to the Main Street sidewalk transporting donations en route to the Project ECHO homeless shelter. About 40 students, along with their families, from the Tidewater School in Huntingtown, gathered Tuesday morning at the church to form a caravan of wagons filled with cleaning supplies and other items the shelter needs. With assistance from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office to direct traffic, the wagon trail wheeled the half-mile distance to drop off the supplies and give students an idea of what it means to be part of a community and be thankful. “Children need to understand they live in a community, and they need to give back and share,” said Nancy Libertini, founder of the Tidewater School, adding that the school has been involved with the shelter since its inception in 1993. “We got the idea from a community school in St. Louis, and it seemed like a wonderful way to combine our hands-on approach to learning with a service project that will have real impact in our own community,” said Laura Amin, head of school at Tidewater, a small, independent elementary and primary school in Huntingtown that is based in Montessori teachings. See TROT, Page A-9 Staff photo by DARWIN WEIGEL The Tidewater School in Huntingtown formed a wagon train along Main Street in Prince Frederick from Trinity United Methodist Church to Project ECHO to deliver donated goods to the homeless shelter. Zephyr Dyro, 5, of Benedict helps his mother, Michelle Dyro, with the wagon filled with his sister, Nova, 2, and supplies while she carries 2-month-old Juniper.
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