Groups make priorities known to legislators

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
Calvert County, Maryland
shut down
for repairs
nn Temporary
measure is result of
summer storm that affected electrical
system in performance center
Staff writer
Staff illustration by DARWIN WEIGEL
nn When
the court
system and
mental illness
intersect, it’s
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
Staff writer
The Maryland State
Department of Education is
attempting to alleviate challenges school systems face
as they transition to a new
CHOPPs charity grows in its
second year
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.
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
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
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
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
support 2 more
legislative requests
nn Include
in project bidding,
Staff writer
A new legislative request
was presented at the Calvert
County Board of County
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
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
donate to those in need
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
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.