COLUMN: Scotland Storm: The heroes who walk among us

There are, indeed, heroes who walk among us. These heroes include such names as Sarah, Kaila, Faris, Gabriel and Ocean, to name just a few. These are the names of students who understand the value of education and avail themselves of the assistance and guidance provided by the after school program right here in Montgomery County known as Scotland Storm. These students strive to achieve a meaningful education because they recognize the importance of education to a meaningful and productive life. They, indeed, are heroes among us.

Heroes also include such names as Fred, Renee, Robyn, Jabari and Matthew, a high school junior himself, among others, who have made the commitment to assist these students with their homework, tutor them as needed and share their life lessons and experiences so that these students are better prepared to move on with their own lives as productive members of society. It includes the name Carly for coordinating the high school volunteers who participate as tutors. These individuals, too, are heroes.

Our heroes also include the names Chris and Lauren Meade who recognized the need for such an afterschool program and invested their time, their energy and their money to establish this program and give back to the community. They understood the need for creating a path for success for these students that might not have otherwise been available. They, most assuredly, are heroes.

In a society in which all too often some of its members point to the teachings of Ayn Rand and her focus on self above all else as a prescription for society, how refreshing to have witnessed first-hand a program that epitomizes a commitment to community and the understanding that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Scotland Storm is just such a program.

I spoke with the founders of the Scotland Storm Program, Chris and Lauren Meade, to find out some specifics and a little history about the program. Specifically, Scotland Storm Community Development, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides free after-school and summer academic and sports programs for children from the historic Scotland Community in Potomac.

Why Scotland? That decision was based on need. In a community primarily comprised of lower income families, the ability to focus on educational needs of the children sometimes has to compete with the need to work several jobs and put food on the table. In the competition for time, sometimes homework assistance has to take a back seat. The Scotland Storm Program recognizes the need to fill this void.

The program was launched in the fall of 2013 and started with 27 Bells Mill Elementary School students who received one-on-one academic tutoring with homework assistance. In the summer of 2014, the program was expanded to include students from Cabin John Middle School and included a six-week academic and sports camp. The entire program continued with both the elementary and middle school students for the 2014 and 2015 school years through its academic and sports programs Mondays through Thursdays. Scotland Storm even provides a bus to return students to the Scotland community.

It is a goal of Scotland Storm to expand the program and to offer after-school and summer programs which support students as they progress through high school and seek admission to college. It is hoped that the program can eventually be expanded to include Churchill High School students.

I spoke to academic director Fred TenEyck and assistant director Renee TenEyck who explained that it is their goal to provide an educational environment and resources to help students complete homework and stay on top of their school assignments. The program emphasizes math calculation skills through the Kumon Math curriculum and students complete timed Kumon worksheets under the direct supervision of the volunteers. The scores are tabulated and then submitted to a local Kumon Center director who generously monitors the students’ progress. This is, indeed, a community effort.

For enrichment in reading, the program collaborates with teachers at Bells Mill Elementary and Cabin John Middle Schools who supply the materials to ensure that the afterschool support is consistent with current classroom instruction. It can't be emphasized enough that this program does not compete with the school system but is designed to supplement and support the work of the two local schools.

Moreover, it is the school that supplies the facilities used by the program and the school administration and its teachers fully support the program.

I also spoke to Coach Jabari Graham who indicated that all students participate in the athletic portion of the program. "In good weather, they are outdoors playing basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis and general fitness; in bad weather, they move indoors to the Cabin John gym. We also organize baseball, soccer and basketball teams for our students to compete in local leagues".

The work done in this program and its value to the community is not being missed. The Montgomery County Council recently approved a grant for the program and this is money well spent. Apparently the Montgomery County Council as well as the founders of Scotland Storm agree with the lyrics of a Whitney Houston hit, "The children are our future".

It is apparent that the program relies heavily on the commitment of volunteers. After becoming aware of the program and the altruism of its volunteers, I wanted, in my own small way, to help get the word out.

I hope that this column serves that purpose and makes others aware of the work being done by Scotland Storm.

I hope that the dedication to community exhibited through this program serves to inspire others to volunteer their time and energy to this cause.

I hope that the example of Scotland storm serves to inspire others to establish similar programs in their own communities.

For more information about this program and its work and how to volunteer, the Scotland Storm website can be found at



Man charged with indecent exposure

GAITHERSBURG – Gaithersburg police charged Travis Johnathan Addison, 24, of the 7600 block of Laytonia Drive, with one count of indecent exposure stemming from an Oct. 9 incident.

Travis Johnathan AddisonTravis Johnathan Addison COURTESY PHOTO

Police spokesperson Officer Rick Goodale said Addison did not know his victim.

On Oct. 9, police responded to a call from a person at the 7200 block of Whispering Oaks Way. The victim told police Addison appeared outside of his sliding glass door.

Addison asked the victim for his phone number, made sexual gestures and exposed himself, police said.

On Nov. 17, police received tips after the department released photos of Addison.


Man arrested for theft, possession of handgun

SILVER SPRING – Montgomery County police from the third district charged a local man for the possession of a stolen handgun Nov. 25.

Dominique Bernard SaundersDominique Bernard Saunders COURTESY PHOTO

Police charged Dominique Bernard Saunders, 23, of the 5500 block of Karen Elain Drive in New Carrollton, with handgun offenses and theft under $1,000.

On Nov. 22, an employee of The Fillmore Silver Spring approached off-duty police officer working with security staff at the venue after he overheard Saunders say he was planning to shoot someone, police said.

According to police, the employee saw Saunders remove a handgun from a vehicle stopped outside of the building.

Responding officers found a male matching Saunders’ description walking in an alley behind the building and ordered him to stop, police said.

According to police, Saunders refused to stop, opened the lid of a dumpster and threw a silver object inside and then followed officers’ orders.

Officers found a loaded handgun in the dumpster. County police spokesperson Officer Rick Goodale said a police department in Suffolk, Va., reported the handgun as stolen.

Goodale said police determined the handgun was stolen after checking its serial number. Goodale said Saunders was asked to leave the venue earlier that night.

According to police, a previous felony conviction forbade Saunders from lawfully possessing a gun.
As of Wednesday, Saunders was at the Central Processing Unit on a $15,000 bond.



Council members unite to oppose privatized liquor sales


ROCKVILLE - Nearly every Montgomery County Council member signed a letter restating the county’s stance on privatizing alcohol sales and the council sent it to the Montgomery County’s state delegation Nov. 12.


Rockville postpones tonight's Confederate Statue hearing

**UPDATED -- Nov. 19, 2015**

ROCKVILLE – The controversial Confederate Cavalry Statue in Rockville lives to fight another day.


Confederate statue 7-31-15The Confederate Cavalry Statue stands inside of a wooden box after someone spray-painted graffiti on it this summer. FILE PHOTO

The city government announced via a tweet Thursday the Historic District Commission postponed its discussion about the Confederate Cavalry Statue due to a lack of quorum.

However, the rest of the meeting is still taking place, scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

The move surprised the mayor and one of the city’s leading history advocates.

“I had no idea,” said Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton at 5:39 p.m., less than 90 minutes before the scheduled start of the Historic District Commission.

Her comment came 10 minutes after the City of Rockville’s website displayed a Tweet stating, “Tonight's discussion on the Confederate monument is moved to Dec. 17 due to the lack of a quorum for that item.”

While the Tweet itself came with a timestamp of 2:07 p.m., it appeared as a new item on the city’s @Rockville411 Twitter feed at 5:29 p.m.

By that point, apparently no one had informed the mayor.

City spokesperson Marylou Berg, who oversees the city's Twitter feed, said she heard from Susan Swift, the city's Department of Community Planning and Development Services director, about the postponement. They then decided to send the message out through the city's website, Twitter and Facebook pages.

According to Berg, the tweet "was sent right around 5 (p.m.)."

Sheila Bashiri, the HDC's staff liaison, said the decision came after the 2:07 p.m. Twitter time stamp.

"It was very late in the afternoon when we found out. I let my supervisor know, Susan Swift, so she let Marylou Berg know," said Bashiri.

At issue is a request from Greg Ossont, the Montgomery County Department of General Services deputy director, for a certificate of approval to install the Confederate Cavalry Statue monument at the Beall Dawson Historic Park.

Eileen McGuckian, a local historian who supports keeping the monument, said she received no notice about the postponement prior to a phone call from The Sentinel.

“I’m surprised,” she said around 5:35 p.m.

According to Bashiri, commissioner Emily Correll testified about the statue before the City Council appointed her to the HDC, so she recused herself from voting on the issue. Commissioner Jessica Reynolds is in Germany and Craig Moloney was stuck at an airport.

“So it’s moved to Dec. 17 and that’s when we’ll all be there to respond to this,” said McGuckian.

The Beall Dawson property is located a quarter-mile west from the Red Brick Courthouse lawn, where the statue currently stands encased in a wooden box, blocking most of the structure.

Although the statue’s stood at its current location since 1971, the massacre of nine African Americans in Charleston, S.C. earlier this year spurred a nationwide debate about whether Confederate symbols should be displayed on public property, outside of museums.

County Executive Ike Leggett supports moving the statue to Beall Dawson and the Historic District Commission in September voted 4-0 to allow the county government to relocate the statue.
In October, the Historic District Commission reaffirmed its September ruling by declining to overturn it.

Newton said she considered attending the Nov. 19 Historic District Commission meeting for the scheduled 9:15 p.m. discussion about the statue.

Instead, she chose to attend the Maryland Municipal League Montgomery Chapter meeting in Chevy Chase, which runs from 6:30-8 p.m.




Local residents return from Paris after attacks

The terrorist attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris last Friday hit home for some Montgomery County residents in a close way.


FullSizeRender1Bethesda resident Delphine Arri (right) and Pablo Cardinale (second to right) pose with two colleagues near the Eiffel Tower Friday night in Paris. COURTESY PABLO CARDINALE

Two local residents who were in the French capital for a business conference shared what they experienced in the French capital during the attacks at Stade de France, Le Bataclan Theatre, Le Petit Cambrodge restaurant and Le Carillon bar.

Bethesda resident Delphine Arri and Potomac resident Pablo Cardinale both work at the International Finance Corporation and flew out of Dulles International Airport to Charles DeGaulle last Wednesday, returning Saturday.

While they ate dinner Nov. 13 near the Eiffel Tower, after the last day of their business meeting, the attacks happened at the other side of the city.

Arri is a native Parisian whose children attend The Lycee Rochambeau French International School in Bethesda. Cardinale’s son Mattias is a senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, which happens to be hosting a theatrical performance of the French-themed Les Miserables this weekend.

Two of Arri’s best friends still live in Paris, where they attended the Eagles of Death Metal concert hijacked by attackers.

She relayed their story after speaking to one of them Monday.

After hiding behind a chair for about 20 minutes, seeing the gunmen shoot people who moved, they waited for a moment to escape out of an emergency exit. They later caught a cab and returned two days later to pick up their car.

“They said every time somebody would move, they would shoot at them,” said Arri.

During that time, Arri was unaware of the melee, and instead met up with her brother-in-law for drinks.

“At that time, we did not realize what was happening and we were more excited to see each other,” she said.

When she arrived in one portion for the city with “lots of bars and restaurants,” she said she noticed “the bars were closing and they just received an order that something was going on and they had to close.”

Once they finally found an open bar, they heard about the massacres unfolding across the city.

That’s when her brother-in-law drove Arri back to her hotel.

“And on the way back to the hotel, we saw that there were police cars and fire trucks and lots of sirens and alarms,” she said.

People in the street “were rushing; they were walking very fast. You could feel that there was something happening and people were in a state of not panic but rush... people were rushing to go home.”

At that point, the severity of the attacks began to set in for Arri.

She explained she felt nervous and anxious while it was all “very confusing and terrifying.”

Cardinale and Arri both received a barrage of messages to their cell phones and social media accounts from friends and family who wanted to make sure they survived and were safe.

After the attacks, restaurants closed around the city.

“Everything was closed,” said Cardinale, who lodged at The Westin Paris. “I had to stay in the hotel, essentially.”

As a French citizen with an American green card, Arri had an easier experience at the airport than Cardinale did flying back to the United States Saturday morning.

While she said she made it through security in less than an hour before her morning flight, Cardinale arrived at DeGaulle “about six hours ahead of time and I almost missed my flight.”

When Arri landed back in Dulles Saturday, she broke into tears.

“It's difficult because I think I'm still trying to understand what happened and why this is happening. And all these questions do not have a simple answer,” she said. “I think I was crying for my people because this is very sad… These people are using other people to kill and it's something that's beyond our comprehension, beyond our values.”

“It was such a random thing,” surmised Cardinale. “It could have happened at a restaurant like we were at.”




DC Rollergirls bring thunder to MD

SILVER SPRING – Local resident Maya Aleshnick never played a sport before her first roller derby match.

But she’s been hooked since reading an article about the all-women’s sport in a newspaper and attending to her first event in 2012.

Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams with five women on each team skating around a track.

The objective is to have one designated skater score points by lapping skaters of the opposing team while her teammates block for her.

Each team plays offense and defense simultaneously.

The sport consists of three positions: jammers, blockers and pivots.

Jammers are responsible for scoring points. There is one on each team. Fans and players can recognize them by the stars on their helmets.

Blockers prevent the opposing team from scoring points while also assisting their own jammer through the pack to score. They have no design on their helmets.

Pivots are blockers who may take on the role of jammer if the designated jammer needs help. Pivots wear a stripe on their helmets.

Most teams have women practice different positions so that no one woman is relied on completely.

As of 2014, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association had 243 full leagues included.

Aleshnick, better known as Ginge Reaper on the DC Rollergirls, is originally from Vermont.

She moved to Baltimore for graduate school and later moved to Silver Spring for work at the FDA as a Malaria researcher.

“Names are given to you by your teammates depending on what you do or how you look,” explained Aleshnick. “I got mine because of my red hair.”

The 26-year-old joined the DC Rollergirls in July but has been off skates for about three years. In 2012, she only played derby for six months.

Aleshnick said the DC Rollergirls community welcomed her as a transfer skater and even helped reintegrate her into the game.

“If I was struggling with anything, any random person would approach me and help me with my techniques,” said Aleshnick. “It’s a really encouraging and supportive place to be.”

According to Aleshnick, roller derby is more popular in this part of the country.

“In Vermont, there was only one league to play for,” said Aleshnick. “But in the D.C. area, there’s so many major cities close by like Baltimore or Philadelphia, making it a much bigger derby community.”

Aleshnick decided to play when she realized the sport combined a lot of things she liked: roller-skates, aggression, empowered women, a supportive community and puns.

“Most people try to argue that their sport is the best, but it is hands down roller derby,” said Aleshnick.

Aleshnick helps the creative committee by making posters, flyers and ads for publicity.

Rockville resident Simmie Berman, 31, is a mechanical engineer by day and a DC Rollergirl at night.

Berman moved from Massachusetts, to Montgomery County in 2011, first living in Wheaton before heading west to Rockville in 2013.

Her college club gymnastics coach introduced her to roller derby, leading Berman to buy gear with a friend and sign up for a training derby boot camp the next day.

“I remember rolling into someone because I didn’t even know how to stop,” said Berman.

Berman, better known as Simmie Simmie Coco Puff on the DC Rollergirls, begins her third season next January. She mentioned the season runs from January to April but the team still practices during the off-season.

“I mainly do it for the people; the people I meet through derby are people I would never meet otherwise,” she said. “They are the most supportive group of women.”

Berman never played a team sport before joining the Rollergirls. Her athletic past includes gymnastics and tae kwon do.

I really like being on a team. It’s very satisfying to work together and succeed together,” said Berman.

As the team’s financial representative, her role on the team is to look out for charity fundraising opportunities and to keep track of the team’s money.

“We are self-sustaining and independent,” said Berman.


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