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(Enlarge) Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Garrison Commander

COMMANDER'S COLUMN

After another great summer weekend, it is time for all of us to begin to focus our attention and priorities on school.

In this week's Soundoff! is a special Back-To School insert. The insert includes information for parents such as some of the most commonly asked questions about our schools, dates for Back-To-School Nights, safety tips for school bus riders and information about before- and after-school programs.

The insert is designed to help parents prepare for the new school year.

The Back-To-School insert is a good start to the school year. However, we all need to work together to ensure our students stay safe and healthy and get the most out of their education opportunities. Let's all work together to help make this school year one of the very best for our students.

One of my goals this school year will be to continue working with Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, Anne Arundel County Public Schools superintendent; Sarah Bonise, our school liaison; and the principals who manage the cluster of schools located on Fort Meade.

Since becoming garrison commander, one of the recurring challenges I face is helping parents, service members, civilian workers and concerned members of our surrounding communities understand that perception and reality are often two different things when we are discussing the Meade cluster schools.

On more than one occasion, I have heard an individual say that the schools located on Fort Meade have bad reputations.

I want to start this school year off by trying to find ways to eliminate negative comments about our schools and promote the positive activities occurring every day -- from within the classrooms to the sports fields.

I understand that in the past there have been problems in some of our schools. However, changes in school administrators -- combined with the efforts of teachers who are engaged and eager to help our kids learn, along with the great parents in our community -- have made our schools a rich and rewarding experience for our youth.

And I am committed to fostering a stronger partnership between Fort Meade and our schools as we are all "Team Meade."

Our schools have a lot to offer our children. They provide opportunities for our students to excel in academics, sports and music.

Three Fort Meade schools - Manor View Elementary, MacArthur Middle and Meade High - have an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The programs help students develop an international outlook through a challenging course of study and also help prepare students for college, internships and employment.

Meade High also offers a Homeland Security Signature program. The four-year program features courses aimed at preparing students for careers in security, technology and engineering by offering innovative, theme-specific curriculum and co-curricular activities that are relevant to the 21st-century workforce.

Meade High was the first of 12 Anne Arundel County high schools to offer its own signature program.

This school year, I hope more parents will find time to become more involved with our schools. I believe strong parental and community support can enhance the reputation of our schools and help our administrators and teachers continue to improve the quality of education.

As we begin the school year, please find time to meet with your child's teachers, join the PTA and volunteer your time and energy. I know I will!

Principals have told me that parents' involvement, combined with the efforts of their faculties, can produce a rich and rewarding year for our youth.

I look forward to working with you this school year. Let's make it the best one ever.

Have a great week!

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