School Notes: Bezos Donates $ 250,000 to Bethesda’s News Literacy Project

Plus: Local students win prize in Regeneron contest; Rosa Parks Middle gets special gift


Jeff Bezos


Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of The Washington Post, recently donated $250,000 to The News Literacy Project, a locally-based initiative aimed at training students to be savvy media consumers.

The project, founded about a decade ago by Bethesda resident Alan Miller, brings together teachers and journalists to train young people in distinguishing between fake news and the real deal. Miller said Bezos’ contribution is “enormously beneficial” to the NLP as the organization seeks to expand its reach and impact.

“It’s particularly gratifying to get this kind of contribution from Jeff Bezos, given who he is and what he represents,” Miller, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, said in a Friday interview.

Through the project, reporters from more than 30 news organizations have reached students with lessons about news literacy. A couple years ago, NLP also launched its checkology digital platform, an e-learning tool aimed at helping students develop critical thinking skills for reading, viewing and listening to media.

Miller said the NLP reached out to Bezos through Walt Mossberg, a member of its board. Bezos then went to Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, a supporter of NLP, for more information about the project.

Bezos’ contribution is a personal gift and will support the project’s operating costs, Miller said.

“Specifically, it gives us a great opportunity to reach far more teachers and students with our checkology virtual classroom, which provides students the tools to become news-literate. It will also help us build our staff capacity to increase our impact,” Miller said in a prepared statement.

Local students make final round of Regeneron competition

Last month, three students from Montgomery County were named finalists in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search, a prestigious national competition.

Each of the top scholars and their schools received $2,000 through the competition, run by the Society for Science and the Public. In March, 40 finalists will head to Washington, D.C., for final judging and to compete for $1.8 million in awards.

The local semifinalists were:

  • Sambuddha Chattopadhyay of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring for “On T-Reflection via Analytic Continuation in Quantum Mechanics;”
  • Rohan Dalvi of Montgomery Blair High School for “Kinetic Trapping and Structural Determination of Native-State Biomolecules in the Gas Phase;” and
  • David Boris Rekhtman of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda for “A Study of the Induction of Immunogenic Cell Death in Response to Local Ablative Therapies of Cancer.”

Original Rosa Parks stamp presented to Olney school

School board member Jeanette Dixon recently gave the principal of Rosa Parks Middle School a first printing of the U.S. Postal Service’s Rosa Parks stamp.

Dixon presented the stamp honoring the civil rights icon to Jewel Sanders on Feb. 2.

“I would like to present that to you for all the students at Rosa Parks, and hopefully, they will always remember her and her quiet dignity. That an ordinary person can do extraordinary things,” Dixon said while presenting the stamp to Sanders.

Sanders said the stamp will go in the school’s display case.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at

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