Montgomery Blair High School

Montgomery Blair High School
Montgomery Blair High School
Motto Crescens Scientia (To Expand Knowledge)
Established 1925 (opened 1935)
Type Public (Magnet) Secondary
Principal Renay C. Johnson
Faculty approx. 330
Students 2,788
Grades 9–12
Location 51 University Boulevard East,
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Coordinates 39°1′5.2″N 77°0′41.7″W / 39.018111°N 77.011583°W / 39.018111; -77.011583Coordinates: 39°1′5.2″N 77°0′41.7″W / 39.018111°N 77.011583°W / 39.018111; -77.011583
Oversight Montgomery County Public Schools
Campus Four Corners, Suburban, 42 acres (17 ha)
Colors Red and white         
Athletics 23 varsity sports
Mascot Blazer
Yearbook Silverlogue
Newspaper Silver Chips
Television station WBNC (Blair Network Communications)
Literary magazine Silver Quill
Rank 139th nationwide, 8th statewide

Montgomery Blair High School (MBHS) is a public high school located in unincorporated Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. MBHS has two specialized programs and seven academies, containing a total of 15 academic departments.

The school was named after Montgomery Blair, a lawyer who represented Dred Scott in his United States Supreme Court case and who served as Postmaster General under President Abraham Lincoln.[1] It originally opened in 1925 as Takoma Park-Silver Spring High School. In 1935, however, Montgomery Blair High School opened at 313 Wayne Avenue, a location overlooking Sligo Creek, now occupied by Silver Spring International Middle School. In 1998, the campus moved two miles (3 km) north to the Kay Tract, a long-vacant tract of land adjacent to the Capital Beltway.

The school is nationally recognized for its magnet program and Communication Arts Program (CAP), which draw students from both the Silver Spring area and across Montgomery County, and make up approximately 20% of Blair's student population. The school has won a plethora of awards, particularly in math, science, computer science, and journalism. It is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST), although unlike other member schools, only a small percentage of the school's population is enrolled in the specialized programs. Blair perennially has a significant number of semifinalists and finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search.



Philadelphia-Chicago Campus Era (1925–1935)

Montgomery Blair High School, then known as Takoma-Silver Spring High School, became the first high school to serve Silver Spring, Maryland when it opened in 1925 with 86 students. The 3.8-acre (15,000 m2) campus was located at the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Chicago Avenue in suburban Takoma Park, Maryland. By the end of the 1920s the school had expanded to host students in eighth and ninth grades, who attended the school's junior high school, as well as tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, who attended the school's senior high school. As Silver Spring and Takoma Park continued to rapidly grow, the school eventually encompassed all levels from kindergarten to twelfth grade. By 1934, the school was over-capacity with a total enrollment of 450 students, and so, in September 1935, the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades relocated to a new high school named Montgomery Blair Senior High School, also known as the Wayne Avenue Campus. During the transition period, students, teachers, and administrators had to commute between the two campuses, and collectively began creating some of the new traditions that would be the foundation for Montgomery Blair High School, among them the annual yearbook, Silverlogue.

After 1935, the Takoma-Silver Spring School reverted to a combination elementary/junior high school, containing kindergarten through ninth grade. Before long, however, further population growth fueled the need for a separate junior high school, and in 1938, grades seven through nine relocated to the new Takoma Park Junior High School. Takoma-Silver Spring School was then renamed Silver Spring Intermediate School (SSI), which served as an elementary school until 1972, not to be confused with Silver Spring International Middle School. During those years, SSI's gymnasium became the home basketball court for nearby Montgomery College. In 1992, the historic school building was demolished and the former high school campus became a community park.

Wayne Avenue Campus Era (1935–1998)

When Montgomery Blair High School's 23.5-acre (95,000 m2) Wayne Avenue campus opened in March 1935, it was the sixth high school in Montgomery County, and the first in the lower county. The facility the consisted only of the C building, overlooking Sligo Creek. In 1936, the Auxiliary Gymnasium was added, followed by the B building in 1940, and the D building in 1942. MBHS's first football team was founded in 1944, and the War Memorial Stadium opened in 1947. In 1950, the A building was constructed, containing the Blair Library/Media Center. With the addition of the Main Gymnasium/Fieldhouse in 1954, MBHS possessed one of the finest basketball and football facilities in the county. The E building was added in 1959 as an administrative section, followed by the 1969 opening of the renowned 1200-seat Elizabeth Stickley Auditorium. The most recent addition came in 1973, with the unique automotive shop building. The class of 1937, the first to spend all three years at the Wayne Avenue campus, gave MBHS its school song.

World War II posed a challenge for Montgomery Blair High School, as many teachers and students left to fight overseas. Everyone stepped in to support the war effort, as students from the University of Maryland taught several classes, and in some cases, able senior students taught sophomore classes. The Blair Library created the "Senior Corner" to honor those who had not returned from war. Life magazine featured the school's Victory Corps close order drill team. Furthermore, other students added to the war effort by assisting local farmers after school and on weekends.

The 1950s were a sports highlight for Montgomery Blair High School. Both the football and basketball teams went undefeated in 1955. Over the next nine years, the basketball team went on to five state championships, and the football team had similar success. The most satisfying wins were over arch-rival Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, with 3000 spectators on hand. Following the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the school became much more racially and economically diverse during the post-war era. With Silver Spring's ever-increasing population, the school's enrollment jumped from 600 students in 1946, to 1900 by 1956 and 2200 by 1993. In addition, the debut of the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet program in the fall of 1985 brought 80 new students. The Communication Arts Program (CAP) followed two years later, bringing 75 new students. Towards the latter part of the twentieth century, overcrowding remained as the main issue for Montgomery Blair High School, as portable buildings covered what was once open land. The administration began searching for a solution in 1988. Proposals included underground construction or expanding outwards, but by 1994, it was decided that the school should relocate to an empty tract of land 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the north. Construction began on the Kay Tract in the mid-nineties and the Four Corners Campus opened in the fall of 1998. After the move, Blair's Wayne Avenue campus converted into a combination Elementary/Middle School; currently Sligo Creek Elementary School and Silver Spring International Middle School each take up half the campus. The Elizabeth Stickley Auditorium, however, was not included in the conversion plans, and has remained closed since 1997. Nevertheless, the auditorium has received a significant amount of attention throughout the region as it has fallen into disrepair. Several local politicians and leaders, including former Maryland state senator Ida Ruben, current state senator Jamie Raskin and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, have endorsed projects to restore the auditorium to its former condition.[2]

The Blair Cupola and Steeple at the Four Corners Campus

Four Corners Campus Era (1998–present)

Montgomery Blair High School remained at the Wayne Avenue Campus for over six decades until its 1998 move to the current Four Corners Campus at the intersection of University Boulevard, Colesville Road, and the Capital Beltway. When it opened, the new facilities were the largest in the county, spanning a 42-acre (170,000 m2) region, which was nearly twice as large as the old Wayne Avenue site. During the early- to mid- 2000s, the school population spiked to its highest in history at approximately 3400 students, rivaling that of some community colleges. Although enrollment has since receded to about 2,900 students, the school still has the largest student population in the county. The 2008 year marked a technological breakthrough for MBHS, as interactive digital Promethean boards were installed in many classrooms.

Notable events

In April 1992, Montgomery Blair High School was the first high school in the nation to initiate and sponsor a display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Over 300 panels lined the walls, bleachers and floor of the old field house on Wayne Avenue. More than 5,000 children, their families, teachers and friends came to see the Quilt.[3][4][5][6][7] The dedicated students, faculty, parents and public at-large received a Governor’s Citation for supporting this special project which sought to remember those who have died from AIDS-related complications, while helping to increase AIDS awareness and understanding in our communities.[8]

U.S. President George W. Bush and Blair alumnus Ben Stein ('62) attend a political event held at Blair.

It has been a popular stop for many politicians because of the school's diversity. On February 5, 1998, President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair stopped at Montgomery Blair High School during a state visit.[9]

Montgomery Blair has welcomed other government officials in recent years, including United States Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Secretary of Education Rod Paige during a visit in 2003.

On June 23, 2005, President George W. Bush visited the school to discuss his plan to partially privatize Social Security. Students were not permitted to attend. Bush's presence at the school drew approximately 400 protesters, who, despite the last-minute announcement of the visit, questioned both his proposed policies and the fact that this town hall-style meeting was not open to the general public. The demonstration included community members, students and union members. The police tried to move the demonstration to a park more than a block away, but protesters pointed out that there was no reason they couldn't continue their peaceful protest on the public sidewalk outside the fence around the school. [10] Events occurring at the school and students attending the school have been featured several times in The Washington Post. In late 2006, the Post picked up a story about the controversial new ID policy, making the front page of the Metro section.

On November 11, 2008, a 16-year-old girl stabbed a 16-year-old boy with a sharp-edged object. The boy survived with non-life-threatening injury in the upper portion of one of his arms and received treatment at Holy Cross Hospital. The girl was arrested. Community members originally felt concerned as they wondered if this was related to a November 1 shooting of a Blair student on a transit bus by a male who was not a public school student. The incidents were not related.[11]


Aerial photograph of Four Corners Campus

The current campus of Montgomery Blair High School covers forty-two acres between the Capital Beltway, U.S. Route 29, and Maryland Route 193 in Silver Spring's Four Corners neighborhood. As such, the school's campus is approximately triangular with the side bordered by the Capital Beltway being the longest. The school contains 386,567 sq ft (35,913.2 m2) of space and was originally designed for 2,830 students.[12] Only eight school years after its completion, the school was more than 500 students over capacity, with a population of about 3,400. As a result, the school at one point had eight auxiliary portable classrooms. Over the past few years, population has decreased slightly due to the opening of other schools and the Downcounty Consortium, and as a result 2 portables were removed at the beginning of the 2006–2007 school year. As of April 2010, the enrollment at Blair is 2,788, and the portable classrooms have been removed. Still, Blair remains the county's largest school.

A sundial was added to the school's main courtyard in March 2006

The school has baseball and softball fields to the east of the main building as well as Blazer Stadium which serves as the home of the school's football, soccer, and lacrosse teams. Silver Spring Fire Station 16 conveniently lies adjacent to the baseball field. Residing between the baseball field and the Capital Beltway are two ponds, occasionally visited by marine biology classes for observation and field experience. A large auxiliary field resides south of the main building, adjacent to the Capital Beltway. To the southwest of the building are three basketball and eight-and-a-half tennis courts, as well as a 400-meter track, which encloses another field, home to the field hockey team. Marvin Memorial United Methodist Church lies at the edge of the campus, just beyond eastbound University Boulevard, and is used as an AP testing facility. The school has three main parking lots, one for over 40 busses, one reserved for students, and another reserved for both faculty members and visitors. There are three courtyards located throughout the main building; the main one is located to the east of the building and opens out to the rest of the outdoor space. The other two courtyards are located within the school building and therefore are surrounded by walls on all four sides. Traditionally, the central courtyard is reserved for the seniors and the west one for the faculty members, especially during lunch periods. A greenhouse and accompanying patio is located on the second floor on the west side of the main building for the use of horticulture classes. One of Montgomery Blair's more recent additions came in March 2006, when the school's astronomy class added a sundial to the east courtyard. In the spring of 2008, members of the Science, Math, and Computer Science Magnet Program installed a 10-ring labrynth in a the northwest corner of the campus, in honor of the late former Magnet Earth system science teacher, Mr. Rogers.

A panoramic of the MBHS Faculty Courtyard

The school building contains a 750-seat auditorium, but it has not received as much acclaim from the community as the aged, 1,200-seat Elizabeth Stickley Auditorium at Blair's old Wayne Avenue campus. The school also has various computer, science, and engineering labs, media production facilities, and standard classrooms and academic facilities. However, instead of a typical cafeteria, Blair has a Student Activities Center (SAC) which serves as the lunchroom as well as a main site of Blair events. Connecting the auditorium and SAC, which are on two ends of the building, is a large, unique, three-story corridor dubbed Blair Boulevard. The Blair Library (Media Center), school store, and bank (The Vault) also reside on Blair Boulevard. Another hallway is named after Sligo Creek because it snakes through the building, much like its namesake. All other hallways in the building are given similar street names, but are seldom referred to as such, because they are also numbered by level.

Perhaps one of the building's most unusual features is its vibrant color scheme, which include various shades of red and green throughout the school. The SAC contains numerous shades as well as a mural depicting both the Wayne Avenue and Four Corners campuses. The ceiling of Blair Boulevard is not a standard white, but "cilantro" or "poseidon" according to the administration. The front wall of each classroom is painted in a light color while the other walls are white. According to staff, the school's designers came up with its color scheme based on research on how directed color affected learning. The main hallway of the school, 'Blair Boulevard" displays flags from many countries, representing its extremely diverse student body.


In 2004, the school had the largest enrollment in the Montgomery County public school system, with 3,294 students. The number has since dropped to 2,788 for the 2009–2010 school year,[13] in part because of the reopening of nearby Northwood High School in 2004. Blair is notable for the diversity of its student body: African Americans make up 28.9% of the population, Caucasians 25.8%, Hispanics 27.5% and Asians 17.6%.[13] Because of its proximity to Washington, DC, its large, diverse population, and the numerous awards it has won, Montgomery Blair High School has hosted heads of state and other dignitaries over the years.


Montgomery Blair High School is one of the top schools in the nation. In 2010, MBHS was ranked by Newsweek as the eighth best public school in the state of Maryland, and as the 139th best public school nationwide. Because of its Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet Program and its Communication Arts Program, MBHS attracts students from across the entire county. Additionally, the school has an Honors Program and an Advanced Placement Program. The school is one of the few US high schools to have a .edu domain name, with its internet connection having gone live in the late 1980s. MBHS is home to the award winning print newspaper Silver Chips and online newspaper Silver Chips Online, which received the National Scholastic Press Association Online Pacemaker Award in 2004, 2005 and 2006. MBHS has a student television and radio production unit known as Blair Network Communications (BNC). BNC produces a daily announcement program called InfoFlow which airs at 9:00 on weekday mornings, along with other weekly programs. MBHS is also home to Silver Quill, the award-winning literary arts magazine which is designed by students and features student artwork and literature. Silver Quill is distributed with the school yearbook at the end of the school year.

Most of the school's approximately 3,000 students reside in nearby areas of Silver Spring. Several hundred other students commute by bus from areas throughout Montgomery County. The specialized programs, which were initially created as a single desegregation program, account for about 800 students within the school.

MBHS consists of two specialized programs, seven academies, and 15 academic departments, offering a diverse range of disciplines and courses.

Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet Program

In 1985, Montgomery County Public Schools opened its first Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Magnet Program within Montgomery Blair High School. The Magnet Program offers accelerated, interdisciplinary courses in science, mathematics, and computer science for students who are particularly interested in these subjects. The current coordinator of the Magnet Program is Peter Ostrander. The previous coordinator, Dennis Heidler, left Blair after the 2008–2009 school year. Despite the racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity in the Blair student body as a whole, the Magnet Program is largely composed of affluent Caucasian or Asian-American students.[14]

Before the start of second semester in 8th grade, students who reside in Montgomery County are eligible to apply to the Magnet Program. The application process involves a written application including essays, teacher recommendations, and middle school transcripts. All applicants are required to take a written entrance exam in the spring which tests math, science, humanities, and logical thinking. The program accepts only 100 students from across the county each year and students can only enter the program in their freshman year of high school. On average, 50% of incoming Magnet students have graduated from the Mathematics/Science/Computer Science Magnet Program at Takoma Park Middle School. In recent years, the number of applicants has reached record highs in the 700–800 student range. For the class entering in the fall of 2007, there were 380 students evaluated. It, along with the recently opened Magnet Program at Poolesville High School, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD are the only countywide magnet programs at the high-school level in MCPS.

One of two computer labs used most often by students in the Magnet Program

Since Magnet students have extra academic requirements, they have an additional class at the end of their school days (eight periods instead of the usual seven), causing Magnet students to end school 50 minutes later than most other county high-schoolers. Ninth and tenth grade Magnet students take four courses each semester within the Magnet curriculum – science, mathematics, interdisciplinary engineering (research & experimentation), and computer science – and four courses each semester in other disciplines (English, social studies, fine arts, foreign language, physical education, etc.) with the rest of the Blair student body. Freshmen in the Magnet take accelerated physics in the first semester and chemistry in the second semester; sophomores take earth systems science followed by biology. In addition to science courses, freshmen in the Magnet are required to take Fundamentals of Computer Science and sophomores are required to take Algorithms and Data Structures (ADS) where they study programming techniques in the Java programming language. Freshmen who pass a screening test are allowed to start ADS one semester early; this section is known as the "Accelerated Computer Science Track". Juniors and seniors have fewer required Magnet courses, and therefore complete their schedules with magnet electives, AP courses, or other departments' electives. The Magnet Program offers over 45 unique in-depth courses including Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics, Optics, Mathematical Physics, Biochemistry, Linear Algebra, Discrete Mathematics, Multivariable Calculus with Differential Equations, Complex Analysis, Genetics, Cell Physiology, Marine Biology, 3D Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence, Material Science, Astronomy, Origins of Science, and Origins of Mathematics. Qualified students who are not in the Magnet Program can and do enroll in Magnet elective courses.

One of the main components of the Magnet Program is the Senior Research Project (SRP). While not strictly required, completing an SRP is strongly encouraged, and about 90% of the program's students choose to do so. Beginning in the spring of junior year, the students complete independent, original study on topics of their choice in the sciences or the social sciences. Usually, the project will involve an internship of at least eight weeks in length at one of the many research institutions in and around Montgomery County, Maryland, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the University of Maryland, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Carnegie Institute, or at other research institutions of choice around the globe. After completing their research, students write formal scientific papers and present their projects at the Magnet Research Convention, which takes place each year in the early spring.

Magnet students have been winners of National Science Bowl, National Merit semi-finalists, Montgomery County Science Fair Grand Award Winners, first place winners in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Montgomery County Mathematics League champions for 22 straight years, SuperQuest finalist teams, national winners in the NASA Space Science Student Involvement Project, American Computer Science League National Championship Teams, Grand Winners of the Physics Olympics for the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area, and first place winners in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.[citation needed] Prior to the SAT changes, SAT scores consistently fell above 1400.[citation needed] Now, the average SAT score for the Magnet program consistently falls above 2100.[citation needed]

Over the years 2002–2010, Montgomery Blair has had the greatest total number of semi-finalists (108) in the Intel Science Talent Search of any school in the United States; it has also had the most finalists (16).

A select group of magnet students work as system operators (sysops) to maintain Montgomery Blair High School's computer network and server systems. The sysops are also the webmasters of and all of its subdomains.

The program now boasts alumni who are math and science professors and researchers at institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, New York University, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Multiple alumni have also gone on to become Rhodes Scholars. Some alumni have even returned to the program to teach.[15] In recent years, the program has seen the children of some of the first students who graduated through the program.

Two asteroids, 16234 Bosse and 16241 Dvorsky, were named in honor of Magnet teachers Angie Bosse and Mary Ann Dvorsky for mentoring finalists in the 2002 Intel Science Talent Search. A third asteroid, 23014 Walstein, was named in honor of Magnet teacher Eric Walstein for mentoring a 2007 Intel finalist.

Each year, a number of students in the Magnet program produce the annual Magnet magazine, Silver Quest. In addition, the Magnet Arts Night (MAN) show is a major highlight each February, in which Magnet students showcase their artistic talent on the stage of Blair Auditorium.

Communication Arts Program

The Communication Arts Program (CAP) at Montgomery Blair High School was established in 1988, three years after the Math, Science and Computer Science Magnet Program opened. The program strives to provide a comprehensive approach to the humanities and the media by offering accelerated, interdisciplinary courses in English, social studies, and media production for participating students. The CAP also places a great deal of importance on social awareness and community service.

In ninth grade, students take courses in photography, drama, American history and English. Tenth grade requires journalism, media, AP U.S. Government and Politics and English. In eleventh grade, students have AP World History, AP English Language and Composition and one semester of Research Methods. Finally, students need to take a portfolio prep class in the last semester of their junior and first semester of their senior year.

The CAP Portfolio is the final, defining, and most important project of the CAP experience. During their junior and senior years, students select their best work in a variety of categories (including writing skills, media literacy skills, and social awareness) completed for classes that are a part of the program's curriculum. After students have put together their Portfolio to the satisfaction of CAP faculty members, they undergo interviews wherein they present and discuss the contents. Failure to put together a Portfolio or failure of the interview process results in removal from the program.

The CAP attracts highly able students from all around the county. Admission to the program, like that of the Magnet, is highly selective. Students may be eligible to join the CAP if they are a member of the Downcounty Consortium of high schools, or were a member of the middle school Magnet Programs at Eastern Middle School or Takoma Park Middle School. Applicants must have at least an average grade of a B in honors-level English and social studies courses. The CAP admits approximately 75 ninth grade students each year, occasionally admitting students to the program even after the first semester of freshman year. Once admitted to the program, students are required to successfully complete the twelve CAP courses, maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75, and complete the CAP Portfolio to graduate with the CAP diploma.

The Academies at Montgomery Blair

The Montgomery Blair Career Academies are communities of students and educators unified by common interests and career goals, and aimed at preparing students who are particularly interested in working in a specialized field. Any qualified student can apply to a Blair academy in their final year of middle school.

Entrepreneurship Academy

Montgomery Blair's Entrepreneurship Academy is one of the only high school entrepreneurship programs in the region. Originally started by Blair teacher Derek Sontz, the program has grown and is now supervised by academy head Kevin Murley. The Entrepreneurship Academy works on students' financial literacy and knowledge of investment strategies, as well as on their general business skills. Students can take one of three strands in the Academy (accounting, business management, and entrepreneurship).[16]

Human Service Professions Academy

The Human Service Professions Academy focuses on fields such as Early Childhood Development, Teacher Education, Psychology & Social Services, Health & Fitness, and Justice, Law & Society. Related activities include: Mock Trial Team, SkillsUSA Social Action, and Student Government Association (SGA). The academy head is Ms. Lisa Seid.

International Studies Academy

The International Studies Academy includes studies in: Comparative Government, Comparative Religions, Middle East Studies, Latin American Studies, East Asian Studies, Human Geography, Economics, World History, European History, International Human Rights, African American History, Africa South of the Sahara, Seminar in Peace Studies, Cultural Anthropology, and Foreign languages. The academy head is Mr. Paul K. Moose. The International Studies Academy hosts biannual tours of MBHS for groups of Japanese high school students in order to further its international relations.

Media Literacy Academy

The Media Literacy Academy includes studies in: TV Production, Literature as Film, Creative Writing, Journalism, Photography, Digital Art, Web Page Design, Ceramics, Studio Art, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, and Theater. The academy head is Mr. Michael Horne.

Science, Math, and Technology Academy

Montgomery Blair's Science, Math, and Technology Academy specializes in: Life Science, Physical Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Networking, and Computer Programming. The academy head is Mr. John Haigh.

English Department

In addition to offering standard English courses, the English Department also offers AP courses in Language and Literature, as well as studies in dramatics, journalism, and theater.

Fine Arts Department

The Fine Arts Department consists of two sub-departments of Music and Visual Arts. The Music Department includes instrumental music, choral music, and general music. Each year the department hosts a fine arts festival, in which students showcase their artistic talent.

Instrumental Music Department

MBHS's Instrumental Music Department consists of three orchestras, three bands, and two jazz bands: Symphonic Orchestra (Honors), String Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, Symphonic Band (Honors), Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band (Honors), and Jazz Band. The department also houses an audio library and a professional recording studio. The well-established Symphonic Orchestra has performed at venues in Orlando, New York City, and Chicago over the years, in addition to performing at the world-class Strathmore Hall, DAR Constitution Hall, and other various auditoriums and concert halls in the state of Maryland. The Symphonic has consistently earned superior ratings at county and state orchestra festivals for many years. Members of the Symphonic Orchestra and Symphonic Band have performed with various other ensembles, such as the Montgomery County Honors, Maryland All-State Honors, and All-Eastern Honors Bands and Orchestras. They also participate in high-level select orchestra groups such as the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, District of Columbia Youth Orchestras, and the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras.

Choral Music Department

The Choral Music Department consists of Concert Choir, Chamber Choir (Honors), a Cabaret, and InToneNation, an acapella group.

General Music Department

The General Music Department offers studies in music history, technology, business, composition, and theory. There are also courses offered in solo and ensemble techniques for piano and guitar playing.

Visual Arts Department

MBHS's Visual Arts Department offers studies in art & culture, ceramics & sculpture, digital art, photography, and studio art.

Foreign Language Department

The Foreign Language Department offers classes up to AP-level in Spanish, French, and Latin, and up to honors-level in Japanese and Arabic.

Mathematics Department

The Mathematics Department offers a variety of honors- and AP-level courses, including: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus, Calculus, Statistics, and Business Mathematics.

Science Department

The Science Department contains sub-departments in the core sciences of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Science. Physics teacher James Schafer was named Montgomery County, Maryland's 2010 Teacher of the Year, and was a finalist for the state's Teacher of the Year Award.

Social Studies Department

MBHS's Social Studies Department is unique in its diverse and enriched course offerings. In addition to offering honors- and AP-level U.S. History, American Government and Politics, and World History, the department also offers elective courses such as African American History, Latin American History, European History, Middle East History, Comparative Government, Comparative religion, Cultural Anthropology, Administration of Justice, International Human Rights, Peace Studies Seminar, Economics, and Psychology.

Silver Chips Online

Silver Chips Online is the online version of the student-run newspaper. Founded in the 1998–1999 school year, the online newspaper gives public access to the student-written articles. Since then, the site has expanded and the interactivity for the site's users has increased. Aside from providing access to current news and events, Silver Chips Online currently offers the community an open forum to discuss contents and themes of written articles.[17] The site also contains many unique features, such as continuously-updated weather reports from the MBHS weather station, an extensive image gallery, interactive polls, and snoWatch reports, which accurately predict school closings or delays due to inclement weather.

Blair Educational Network (BEN) and Blair Information & Learning Locus (BILL)

The Blair Educational Network (BEN) was a Web-based gradebook and groupware program used by students and teachers to keep track of assignments, upcoming events such as quizzes and tests, and as file and email servers. On BEN, each teacher could upload files and assign homework and create discussion forums. Parents could log on and access their children's schedules, including upcoming/current assignments as well as tests (if the teacher posted such). However, unlike the now popularized Edline, parents could not access grades. BEN also included functions such as a school email service and a small storage unit, along with access to teachers and other students. The software behind BEN, known as AUC, was developed in-house by students and staff beginning in 1998. Versions of AUC were released as open source from 1999 through 2001 and the system was adopted by a number of other schools around the world.

MBHS BILL Logo.png

On June 15, 2007, BEN was shut down to make way for Edline, an online service for schools across the country. Many students and teachers attending the school opposed this change due to BEN's uniqueness, user-friendly format and familiarity among Blair staff and students. Furthermore, Edline does not offer the full range of services BEN had, so the Blair Information & Learning Locus (BILL) was released to provide services formerly found on the now-defunct BEN. BILL has significantly improved on the email services formerly found on BEN, but generally speaking, the remaining features remain constant.


The student athletics program currently offers 23 different varsity and 8 junior varsity sports, equating to 41 teams:





  • Badminton^
  • Ultimate Frisbee^
  • Rowing^
  • Bowling^
  • Horseback Riding^
  • * indicates a sport for which there is also a junior varsity team.
  • ^ indicates a sport that is not officially sanctioned by the school and is thus considered a club team.


Boys Basketball (State Champions)

  • 1952
  • 1953
  • 1955 (22–0)
  • 1961 (22–0–1)
  • 1962
  • 1969
  • 1975
  • 1977
  • 1979

Boys Baseball

  • 1955 – Bi-County Champions
  • 1956 – Bi-County Champions
  • 1957 – Bi-County Champions
  • 1962 – State Champions
  • 1975 – County Champions


  • 2011 - State Champions


  • 2011 - County Champions


  • 1949 – County Champions
  • 1955 – County Champions (undefeated)
  • 1956 – Bi-County Champions
  • 1959 – Bi-County Champions
  • 1962 – County Champions
  • 1965 – County Champions (undefeated)

Boys Soccer

  • 1953 – Metro Interscholastic Champions
  • 1961 – Bi-County Champions
  • 1965 – County and Regional Champions (undefeated)
  • 1971 – County Champions (undefeated)
  • 1975 – County Champions
  • 1976 – State Champions
  • 1984 – Regional Champions

Girls Softball

  • 2011 - Regional Champions (state semi-finalists)

Boys Track and Field

  • 1959 – State Champions
  • 1961 – State Champions
  • 1964 – State Champions

Boys Volleyball

  • 2005 – County Champions
  • 2011 – County Champions (uncontested at States since only MCPS has boys volleyball)

Girls Basketball

  • 1981 – County Champions
  • 1982 – State Champions (undefeated)
  • 1983 – County Co-Champions
  • 1988 – Regional Champions
  • 1990 – Regional Champions
  • 1995 – Regional Champions

Cross Country

  • 1964 – State Champions
  • 1971 – Section Champions
  • 2008 – Division Champions
  • 2009 – DCC Champions (Girls)

Girls Volleyball

  • 1999 – State Finalists

Boys Rifle

  • 1961 – State Champions
  • 1966 – State Champions
  • 1982 – National Champions

Honor Societies

Montgomery Blair High School's Honor Societies include the National Honor Society, French Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and the W. E. B. Du Bois Honor Society.

Student activities and traditions

MBHS has over 95 specialized teams or clubs, some of which are entirely student-run, including the Blair Radio Station, Montgomery Blair Linux Users Group (MBLUG), Marching Band, Debate Team, Jewish Culture Club and Philosophy Club. Popular activities and competitions include: Knowledge Master Open, American Computer Science League, Envirothon, Science Bowl, Ocean Science Bowl, Doodle4Google, and Youth and Government. MBHS holds several "spirit weeks" throughout the year, during which students are encouraged to show their school spirit. Each day of a spirit week is focused on a different aspect of school spirit (i.e. Pajama Day, Greek Toga Day, etc.). Traditionally, the first spirit week of each year has been dubbed "Freshman Hell Week", as historically, riots have ensued between new freshmen students and upper classmen. Senior pranks, such as hacking, are also a common tradition among Montgomery Blair High School's populace. The 2009 senior prank was acted out on Blair Boulevard, as a senior student climbed a light pole and gave a dramatic recitation of lines from The Lord of the Rings through a loud megaphone to students traveling in the halls between lunch periods. Students crowded the hall before running out of the building. The 2010 senior prank included the hacking of electronic signs throughout the campus to make them read "Prom Canceled" or "Open Lunch is now in Effect".

Math Team

In the Math Team, students gain a broader view of algebra and geometry, which they are not able to obtain in their math classes. Most meetings include the practice and review of non-calculus-based competition-oriented mathematics problems, as well as the teaching of useful lesser-known proofs or problem-solving methods. Older, more experienced members often teach the younger members, building a strong mentorship among the students. The Math Team is open to anyone who wishes to join, unlike Takoma Park Middle School's Math Team, in which applicants are required to take an extrance screening exam. Members of the Math Team participate in competitions including: Montgomery County Mathematics League, Maryland Math League, Mandelbrot, University of Maryland (UMD) Math Competition, American Mathematics Competition (AMC), American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO), Calculus League, Princeton University Mathematics Competition (PUMaC), Harvard–MIT Mathematics Tournament, and the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML). The Math Team has won county competitions for 22 straight years.

Physics Team

The Physics Team is designed for those who have a strong interest in physics and want to use their knowledge to solve problems and build machines, while pursuing the field to great depths. The upperclassmen student instructors often give lectures on advanced-level physics concepts that aren't commonly taught in the public school curriculum. Team members participate in competitions such as Final Frontiers, Physics Olympics, U.S. Physics Olympiad, International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), and the AAPT Physics Bowl. The team prepares for these competitions by working on practice problems and discussing efficient solutions. In addition, the Physics Team does hands-on demonstrations and labs on a variety of topics.

Computer Team

Montgomery Blair's Computer Team specializes in advanced computer science topics and programming algorithms which greatly extend the classroom curriculum. Upperclassmen students teach new and complex algorithms, data structures, and programming techniques, including Dijkstra's shortest-path algorithm, dynamic programing, and greedy algorithms. The team also delves into other miscellaneous theoretical computer science topics including turing machines, nondeterministic polynomial time, random number generation, assembly language, and relational databases. The Computer Team participates in the American Computer Science League (ACSL), Loyola Programming Contest, University of Maryland Programming Contest, and the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO).

Robotics Team

Founded in 2000, the MBHS Robotics Team consists of over 50 members and specializes on designing, building, and programming a refrigerator-sized robot to compete in the annual international FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The team is unique because it is almost entirely student-run, withholding a strict hierarchical system which consists of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and five subdivisions (Mechanics, Electronics, Programming, Tech, Public Relations), each with their own respective leaders. The course of each year is broken into four "seasons", similar to those of American sports: Training Season (fall), Build Season (winter), Competition Season (winter/spring), and Outreach/Fundraising Season (spring/summer). In the training season, veteran team members recruit and train the incoming freshmen in each specialized subdivision, so that they will acquire the experience and skill needed to assist in building the robot. After receiving competition specifications from FIRST, the team brainstorms a design and frantically works during the six-week Build Season to complete the robot. Upon completion, the robot is tested and shipped off to a facility for inspection. During Competition Season, team members travel with the robot to various locations to compete with other robots built by teams around the nation and the world. In the Outreach/Fundraising Season, the team participates in public events and demonstrations, and works on minor improvement projects. The team's Tech Subdivision maintains at least three UNIX servers, one of which hosts the student-run team website, In 2004, the MBHS Robotics Team was a Chesapeake Regional Winner. In 2008, the team was a New Jersey Regional quarter-finalist, a Chesapeake Regional semi-finalist, and won the Driving Tomorrow's Technology Award. In 2009, the team was a Chesapeake Regional quarter-finalist. The Robotics team provides an enriching engineering experience, and great teamwork, leadership, and scholarship opportunities. In 2010 it reached the semi-finals in the Washington D.C. Regional and was an alliance captain for the North Carolina Regional and reached the quarter-finals. It also won the Creativity Award at the 2010 North Carolina Regional

Academic Team

MBHS's Academic Team is made up of a group of trivia buffs who practice year round to compete in trivia competitions, such as the Knowledge Master Open, Quizmaster Challenge, and the Rumble on the Pike. The Academic Team has won the It's Academic DC Regional championship in 1995 and in 2009, as well as the Knowledge Master Open in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, and in 2009. In 2010 the team reached the It's Academic semifinal and placed 36th out of 64 teams at the PACE NSC tournament.

Notable alumni

Notable alumni of Blair include:[19]

Government and Politics



  • Maneesh Agrawala, Professor of Computer Science at Berkeley, Winner of the 2009 MacArthur Fellowship (aka MacArthur Genius Award).[20]
  • Michael Fischer, PhD, Anthropologist, Harvard/MIT Faculty.[21]
  • Wei-Hwa Huang, member of the US Team for the World Puzzle Federation
  • Jacob Lurie, professor of mathematics at Harvard University


Arts and Media


  1. ^ Stern, Faith (August 1999). "History of the Takoma Park Junior High School". City of Takoma Park. Retrieved April 28, 2006. 
  2. ^ "The Old Blair Auditorium Project". The Old Blair Auditorium Project. Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  3. ^ Hayward, Fran. “Blair High Sponsors AIDS Memorial Quilt”, Takoma Voice, 1992-03.
  4. ^ Spayd, Liz. “Stitched with Sorrow, Awareness”, Washington Post, March 22, 1992.
  5. ^ Neufeld, Matt. “Memorial to AIDS Victims blankets high school grounds”, Washington Times, April 10, 1992.
  6. ^ Danahy, Anne. “Panel for Melvin Lindsey added to Quilt display”, The Washington Blade, April 17, 1992.
  7. ^ Linzer, Deborah. “Letter to the Editor: AIDS Quilt was received warmly at Blair”, The Montgomery Journal, May 5, 1992.
  8. ^ Governor's Citation, April 9, 1992 to The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, signed by William Donald Schaefer
  9. ^ "President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair". Montgomery County Public Schools. February 9, 1998. Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  10. ^, and personal observations
  11. ^ Morse, Dan. "Teenager Stabbed at Silver Spring High School." Washington Post. Tuesday November 11, 2008.
  12. ^ "Blair Program". Design Share. Retrieved April 27, 2006. 
  13. ^ a b [1]
  14. ^ Mui, Ylan Q. (April 4, 2004). "Beyond Black and White". Washington Post Magazine. 
  15. ^ Berger, Natalie. (November 26, 2002). "Teacher Profile: Acton, Mark". Silver Chips Online. 
  16. ^ the Entrepreneurship Academy The Entrepreneurship program has led to several successful businesses. The one that made the most profit is You're On Deck ( which was created in class by student Aaron Sacks. It makes decks of playing cards with any picture, logo, graphic or image on it.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

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