Local woman’s personal history provides perspective on Korea

  • Published in Local

Grace JoSeen here in an interview last year, North Korean immigrant-turned-U.S. citizen Grace Jo expresses doubts on Kim Jong-un’s sincerity after recent summit between North Korea and the United States. FILE PHOTO BY MARK POETKERIt’s been 10 years since Grace Jo successfully fled her home in North Korea, but her memories of constant hunger, beatings, and fear remain close. That is why she doesn’t believe Kim Jong-un has any intention of helping his people.

“To be honest, the whole thing is just going to benefit Korea,” the Montgomery County College student said of the recent summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.


North wins MoCo all-county senior basketball game

  • Published in Sports

Basketball through the hoopROCKVILLE — Thursday night’s Montgomery County Senior All-Star Game at Montgomery College featured highlight reel dunks and very little defense from both teams.

Richard Montgomery’s Daryn Alexander and Northwest’s Norval Black erupted for 27 points each to lead the North team past the South, 144-137.

Alexander and Black were teammates last year for Vernon Buckle’s Montgomery County Heat AAU basketball program Team Vito so they had some familiarity with each other entering Thursday’s contest and their skills were displayed on the hardwood.

“We didn’t talk [prior to the game],” said Alexander, “We just got that chemistry from AAU so it was fun playing in this game, too.”


MC Raptors District VII champs with PGCC defeat, advance to NJCAA DIII finals

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Montgomery College’s Afanna Offor hits a jumper against Prince George’s Community College’s Gus Stone for two of his 23 points in the regional finals. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKMontgomery College’s Afanna Offor hits a jumper against Prince George’s Community College’s Gus Stone for two of his 23 points in the regionals. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKROCKVILLE — Montgomery College is headed to the big dance.

The Montgomery College Raptors men’s basketball team earned its way Sunday to the NJCAA DIII Men’s Basketball Championship with an 85-71 victory over the visiting Prince George’s Community College Owls.

The Raptors captured the District VII championship thanks to a team effort and will play in the finals in Loch Sheldrake, New York scheduled for March 15-17. The win helped Montgomery College head coach Keith Byrd secure his first trip to the national tournament and the program’s first since 2007.

Afanna Offor led four Raptors in double figures with a game-high 23 points and Tyran Crawford scored 17 points while Collin Turner and Chris Johnson also had significant contributions.

“To be honest,” said Crawford, a former Seneca Valley High School standout, “I’m not trying to get too up or too down but we’re on a mission and we’ve got to complete that mission.”


Wheaton High School wins Maryland Science Bowl

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE — Wheaton High School won the Maryland Science Bowl on Saturday defeating Poolesville in the final round at Montgomery College. 

“I am incredibly proud of my students for their victory in the Maryland/DC Regional Science Bowl. They made this happen – they worked extremely hard and came together as a team in the way any coach would dream of,” Daniel Bates, a science teacher at Wheaton High School and coach of the winning team wrote in an email. 

Forty-eight teams representing 25 schools from across Maryland and DC participated in the tournament, with some schools fielding multiple entrants.


“All I have of my family is only memory”

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Local woman recounts the harrowing journey from North Korea to living in Northern Montgomery County

Grace Jo 1Grace Jo recounts her life growing up in the oppressive regime of North Korea before moving to the United States. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER The longest Grace Jo ever went without food was 10 days when she was just a child. Without energy, no longer suffering from hunger pangs and with a high fever, she felt certain death was near. All she had consumed for the past nine days was cold water from a nearby river near her home in North Korea.

Finally, her parents returned from their illegal escape into China to find food for their six children.

Earlier, when Jo was five-and-a-half years old, her grandmother happened upon five newborn mice. She grilled them for Jo and her siblings, helping them survive through another bout of hunger while their parents continually crossed into China to bring back whatever food they could.

“How can I explain hunger?” said the Montgomery College student and Germantown resident. “I lived in a house made of wood. In the winter, the wind blew through the house” through all the holes, she said. “We were really cold and constantly hungry, and sometimes we didn’t have the energy to get the wood” to make a fire for warmth and cooking, she said.


Award-winning author speaks at Gaithersburg High School

ngozi adichieChimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke at Gaithersburg High School on Sept. 26, as part of the One Maryland, One Book program. COURTESY PHOTO  GAITHERSBURG — Award-winning and world-renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke to an audience of about 1,000 people at Gaithersburg High School on Sept. 26 as part of the One Maryland One Book program.

Adichie is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award and her work has been translated into over 30 languages.  She divides her time between nearby Columbia and Lagos, Nigeria.

The Maryland Humanities Council established the One Maryland One Book program 10 years ago to encourage Marylanders to read and discuss a certain book every year. A committee with the council chooses a book that aligns with the year’s theme. This year’s book is “Purple Hibiscus” by Adichie and the theme is “Home & Belonging.”

This year, there are 350 programs in the state focused on this book, including three events with the author, said Phoebe Stein, executive director of Maryland Humanities.

“Purple Hibiscus” is a coming-of-age novel that follows the account of 15-year-old Kambili as she navigates a fraught relationship with her abusive father during political upheaval in Nigeria. Kambili and her brother spend time together living in two different homes: one with their parents, and another with their aunt who, while having less money than Kambili’s family, has a home full of laughter and life. The novel tackles themes such as colonization, religious hypocrisy and gender and family dynamics.


Local Man Leads Alt-Right

  • Published in Local

Matthew Heimbach grew up in MoCo and helped organize the march in Charlottesville

Heimbach Chicago RallyMatthew Heimbach attended Poolesville High School and Montgomery College. COURTESY PHOTO  

Matthew Heimbach, the chairman of the Traditionalist Workers Party (a white nationalist organization), claimed he watched as anti-fascist counter-protesters showered his followers in bleach and urine in Charlottesville, Va. on Friday. His group was in Charlottesville as part of the “Unite the Right” rally that brought together dozens of alt-right groups together to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee Statue from Emancipation Park.

Heimbach, who helped organized the rally said the city government was to blame for the violence in Charlottesville.

Raised locally, Heimbach attended Poolesville High School where he said he attempted to create a white student group.

“I got several hundred students to sign on to my paper to do it. The principal trashed it. I emailed every teacher to get a sponsor none of them responded; it must have been an administrative decision,” he said of his efforts.


Inspector finds no violation of contract

  • Published in Local

A Montgomery County report did not find that Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard misused taxpayer funds.

NBC News 4 reported a story last year that Pollard spent $70, 000 on trips since 2013, averaging 13 trips a year and expensing $1,792 for a five day stay at the Marriott Wardman in Northwest Washington.


Leggett brings in the county budget

  • Published in Local

Leggett 20091001 104316County Executive Ike Leggett

ROCKVILLE –, County Executive Ike Leggett met with the County Council to discuss his new proposed budget last week.

Unlike last year, this year Leggett does not propose any increase in property taxes above the charter limit in his $5.4 billion operating budget. Per usual, about half of the County’s proposed budget will go toward education with $2.5 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools and $309 million for Montgomery College.

Leggett’s proposed budget is a 2.7 percent increase from last year and does not dramatically increase funding for any County agency. In this year’s budget Leggett proposed a 2.3 percent increase to MCPS or $25 million additional to the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort.

“Given that, along with continued uncertainty about the economic recovery and State and federal actions, I am limiting any new programs or significant program expansions to those that clearly achieve our shared priorities and best serve County residents,” Leggett said.


Manger talks about building trust at Montgomery College

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said County police have about 500,000 contacts with the public every year, and each one has the potential to go awry.

“What I tell my cops is that every single one of those contacts can either contribute and build trust, or it can damage trust,” Manger said.

Last week Manger and Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard sat down for a discussion at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus to discuss relations between police and the community. Manger talked about the struggles to build trust with the community and the potential for unrest in the County.

“Ferguson can happen anywhere, you have to pay attention to the relationship that the police department has with the community,” Manger said.

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