The autumn months are overwhelmed with seemingly endless application processes. As MCPS high school seniors prepare for college, their elementary and middle school counterparts are amassing resumes and recommendations for the many magnet programs that the county offers. Open to all current eighth graders are the county’s three magnet high schools: Montgomery Blair, Richard Montgomery, and Poolesville.
Montgomery Blair High School is home to the science, mathematics, and computer science magnet program, which offers a unique curriculum with accelerated course-work in selected disciplines. The program places emphasis on research skills and the application of knowledge in science, math, and computer science to real world issues. Blair students are given distinctive opportunities for in-depth research through classes and internships.
Richard Montgomery High School houses the globally acclaimed International Baccalaureate program featuring an interdisciplinary liberal arts education in foreign languages, science, math, English, and social studies. Throughout their high school careers at Richard Montgomery, students will be challenged to see beyond their own ideas in the growing and changing global arena. According to the 2015-16 Magnet Application Packet, the IB program “adheres to worldwide standards and affords the students selected for the program the opportunity to engage in a rigorous course of studies leading to a diploma recognized by universities throughout the world.”
The Poolesville High School program offers a wide array of studies. Magnet programs encompass the entire school and are organized into three core instructional houses—Global Ecology, Humanities, and Science, Math, Computer Science (SMCS). Each of these houses is made up of small teams of teachers.
Comes November every year, all three schools are flooded with a deluge of nearly 2,000 hopeful applicants from across the county. The procedure to apply requires that parents pay a one-time $50 application fee, regardless of how many programs their student is applying to. The student portion of the application consists of a copy of his or her seventh grade report card, completed teacher recommendation forms in a variety of school subjects, a personal admission essay per program, a parent permission statement, and an individualized catalog of interests or hobbies, academic achievements, test scores, and extracurricular activities. This portion of the application must be delivered personally to the magnet coordinators of the respective schools or postmarked no later than Nov. 7, 2014.
“Overall, I thought the application process was very systematic and straightforward,” Richard Montgomery junior Eric Li said. “It’s important to try to be personal in your essays and really explain why you excel, not only at learning, but also at being a unique person.”
Finally, all applicants must take an admissions test geared toward assessing knowledge and skills that are necessary for success in high school. The test is to be administered on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 from 8-11am at each of the three magnet high schools. Designated testing sites are determined by proximity to the student’s home high school.
On surviving the magnet application process, Li offers aspiring applicants the following advice: “Stay comfortable with everything and take it easy. Try not to stress out too much over specific portions or you may end up doing something wrong.”
Despite the multitude of applicants, comprised of thousands of students all vying for admission, each of the three magnet high school programs accepts just under 150 candidates each year.
Aside from the three high school programs, Montgomery County also hosts middle school magnet programs at Roberto Clemente, Takoma Park, and Eastern Middle Schools.
The Humanities and Communications Program, offered at Roberto Clemente and Eastern, is geared toward fostering a positive attitude and commitment to working collaboratively with peers in students as well as cultivating crucial skills in students with keen abilities and interests in writing and media production. Other core focuses of the program include history, geography, economics, and current events. Students study and document the human experience by participating in intensive media, research, and publications courses.
Counterpart to the humanities program, the Mathematics, Science, and Computer Science Program at Roberto Clemente and Takoma Park features accelerated and specialized coursework that prepare students to employ the skills they learn in the real world. The program attracts students who have exhibited aptitude in mathematics and are motivated to achieve a deeper understanding of concepts as well as students with acute interests in current affairs of the scientific community and scientific research.
Article by the MoCo Student staff writer Catherine Yang of Wootton High School
Graphic by the MoCo Student staff writer Valencia Fu of Richard Montgomery High School