2020 | Schools

School Notes: Blake High School student competes on ‘America’s Got Talent’

Plus: Board of Education to review fall plan on Thursday; Teachers union participates in ‘day of resistance’

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Blake High student competes on ‘America’s Got Talent’

James Hubert Blake High School student Kelvin Dukes was recently selected to compete in live shows of “America’s Got Talent.”

Dukes, 14, is a Burtonsville resident, according to his website, and first caught the game show judges’ attention with a powerful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” in early June.

The roughly 3,000 people — including judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofía Vergara — in attendance gave Dukes a standing ovation.

“From the minute you walked out and the minute you started talking to us, I just thought, ‘I really like you,’ ” Cowell said. “And then you started singing and it’s like, you really have got a special talent. You genuinely have. It was an amazing audition.”

On July 28, Dukes tweeted: “OMG I CANT BELIEVE IM GOING TO THE LIVE ROUNDS! congrats to everyone who made it as well!”

Blake High Principal Bob Sinclair congratulated Dukes on Twitter on Sunday.

Live shows begin Aug. 11, according to the show’s website.

In an “America’s Got Talent” promotional video, Dukes is shown sitting with his parents prior to his audition.

“Our lives are going to change forever,” he said.

Asked by Cowell what his “big dream” is, Dukes said he wants to continue singing, but hopes to pursue a career as a dentist.

Board of Education to review fall plan on Thursday

The Montgomery County Board of Education on Thursday will review the school district’s plan for the fall semester.

In late July, MCPS announced it would conduct remote classes through the first semester, which concludes at the end of January. The move was a reversal of a previous announcement that MCPS planned to begin the school year remotely and slowly transition students back into school buildings through November.

In a community message on July 21, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith wrote that the county’s chief health officer, Dr. Travis Gayles, told school leaders he would “not recommend in-person instruction for students inside school buildings at this time.”

Fall and winter sports were canceled as a result.

In his message, Smith wrote that county officials will reassess health conditions at the end of the first quarter, on Nov. 9, to determine if MCPS can begin phasing students into buildings in the second semester, which begins Feb. 1, 2021.

The school board’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. with a 2.5-hour discussion of the fall plan beginning at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Teachers union participates in ‘day of resistance’

Members of the Montgomery County teachers union on Monday participated in a “national day of resistance, “in solidarity with the Demand Safe Schools Coalition,” according to a post on the union’s website.

The Demand Safe Schools Coalition is a movement to “unite students, educators, parents and community to advance a racial justice agenda in public education, in particular by organizing for police-free schools,” according to the coalition’s website.

It also focuses on providing equitable education opportunities to students and not reopening schools until “the scientific data supports it.”

In Montgomery County, some educators and community members met at the union’s Rockville headquarters, then led a car protest to local Comcast and Verizon stores, “demanding the multi-billion dollar companies provide adequate internet access for Montgomery County Public School students and educators, so that all students in our community can receive an equitable public education during distance learning,” a Facebook event to promote the activity said.

A union flier said it demands that the companies offer free internet access to all students and teachers, and “make it free from the time of enrollment until 60 days after the full restoration of school.”