News Brief: June 2023 Current Events

Magruder Takes Steps To Change School Name

by Alex Lacey ‘24

In February, MCPS received and accepted a petition requesting consideration to change the name of Magruder High School. In the fall, six schools in MCPS were identified for consideration of a name change if representatives of a school’s community requested it. In addition to Magruder, the other schools were the high schools Richard Montgomery, Wootton, and Montgomery Blair, as well as the middle schools John Poole and Francis Scott Key. It is not known if the communities of these schools also have submitted petitions for a name change.

All six of the schools are named after figures from the American Revolutionary Era who owned slaves. Colonel Zadok Magruder was a Revolutionary War soldier. Born in Prince George’s County in 1729, Magruder eventually came to own more than 25 slaves, which placed him among the top four percent of enslavers in the country in 1790. Now that MCPS has accepted the petition, the district is looking for community members such as students, staff, parents, and alumni of Magruder HS to be a part of the steering committee for the renaming process. This Committee will plan and organize the community engagement process to review the renaming petition, determine the community interest in renaming the school, and prepare a report to the Board. This process will last at least through the summer and into the fall semester.

Vape Detectors Piloted in MCPS

by John Castle ‘25

MCPS released a statement on April 12 announcing that vape detectors will be installed in six high schools in response to an increase of inhalants being used in the restrooms. This action followed county-wide restrictions placed on high school bathrooms, including more frequent checks made by security and limiting time they are available for students to use during the school day.

The six high schools piloting the vape detectors this school year are Richard Montgomery, John F. Kennedy, Northwood, Paint Branch, Quince Orchard, and Walt Whitman. MCPS have selected these schools due to incidents that have happened in the past year within these restrooms. Although there are a couple different models of vape detectors, it is possible that when smoke or vape fumes are detected by the device, they will emit sound and lights. When the alert goes off, security or other staff will receive a notification via text or email. It is still unknown whether these vape detectors will be installed in more schools instead of the original six, as well as if they would be permanent. MCPS also is considering other measures to improve school security, including having students wear a badge to be more easily identifiable when on their school campus.

Surgeon General Warns about Social Media

by Liam Trump ‘24

The U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a 19-page Advisory on May 23, warning about the risks of social media on children and adolescents. The report notes that 95 percent of adolescents are on social media, and a third of them state that they use social media “almost constantly.”

In the section entitled ‘We Must Take Action,’ the Advisory states that policymakers should promote greater safety for children on social media by developing age appropriate health and safety standards as well as requiring a higher standard of data privacy for children. Technology companies are also encouraged to conduct independent assessments of the impacts of social media on adolescents by sharing assessment data, assessing the potential risks of online interactions, and establishing specific advisory committees to inform upcoming policies.

“The bottom line is we do not have enough evidence to conclude that social media is, in fact, sufficiently safe for our kids,” Muthy said in an interview with NPR. “And it’s not even just the risk of depression and anxiety symptoms. But we find that nearly half of adolescents are saying that social media makes them feel worse about their body image.”