Category: News

Virtual Town Hall Takeaways: A Conversation with Dr. DiPaula

By Uma Ribeiro


Image Source: Hammond SGA

The Bear Press sat down with Hammond Principal Dr. John DiPaula through a virtual call to discuss the town hall meetings held for students on Tuesday, December 15, Thursday, December 17, and Friday, December 18 at 10:50 am. A separate town hall was held for seniors and freshmen while a joint one was held for juniors and sophomores in which students were free to ask Dr. DiPaula, administrators, and student leaders questions regarding online learning, mental health, and anything in between. About 30 seniors, 30 juniors and sophomores in total, and 3 freshmen attended the town halls.

Dr. DiPaula explained how the town hall meetings were organized. Hammond Student Government Association (SGA) President Shivani Modi opened up most town hall meetings, with SGA Treasurer Ama Stott opening one of them as well.

“Shivani [and] Ama….spoke about SGA first, and then we had our class presidents speak at each meeting. Then they turned it over to me and I shared a little bit of bullet points like when we’re coming back to school, who is making that decision, what the renovations look like…I told them they could ask me anything and I also mentioned about when athletics were going to start and pushing for other activities to happen. I told them when athletics start, I would like to have some of the other clubs and activities to be able to come together because people want fine arts and music and drama and dance and clubs and activities and robotics and government because not everyone’s an athlete, but that’s what you keep hearing about from the board, and that’s fine, but I told [students] that these are the things that are important to me and I want to make sure that happens for you guys.” 

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The Biden Administration’s Plans For Their First 100 Days In Office

By Marissa Yelenik 

Online Editor

Image Source: Los Angeles Times

As Joe Biden rears up for his inauguration on January 20, 2021, he is preparing not only his 100-day plan, but also for his cabinet members. Although many members still need to be approved by the Senate, his picks are already representative of his clear wish to have a more inclusive and diverse team than America’s executive branch has ever seen before:

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COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

A Timeline of Recent News Surrounding Vaccinations

By Melina Guth

News Editor

Image Source:

Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic and the spread of the virus. Not only will the COVID-19 vaccination help keep you from getting COVID-19, it will be a safer way to help build protection according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

As of November 24th, there are five large-scale clinical trials in progress or being planned for AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer vaccines. The following is a timeline accommodating some of the latest news surrounding the pandemic and vaccination efforts.

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Hammond It’s Academic Team Wins First Competition of the Year

By Marissa Yelenik

Online Editor

Pictured above: Hammond’s It’s Academic Team from left, Tom Berheimer, Julia Moyer, Ama Stott, shown competing virtually through Zoom.

On November 14, 2020, the Hammond It’s Academic Team won their first competition of the year against Harford Tech and Perry Hall. The team consists of team captain Tom Berkheimer, as well as members Ama Stott, Julia Moyer, and their coach Kate Pfanstiehl. 

The competition took place on October 18 over Zoom, airing a month later on the station WJZ at 10 a.m. Hammond received 455 points, compared to Hartford Tech’s 430, and Perry Hall’s 360. 

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Virtual Q3: Hammond Community Comments

By Kosta Magoulas

Editorials Editor

Virtual learning has strong, effective impact
Image from

For the 2020-2021 Howard County School year system, schools have been following a 4×4 schedule with no midterms and finals for students. This system allows students to take four classes per semester, which would account for one full year of course credit. In each semester, there are two quarters, each accounting for essentially half of the student’s grade. Overall, there has been some ambivalence about the virtual system and many feel more stressed as well.

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Howard County to Stay Virtual for Quarter 3

Potential hybrid model rejected, small group programs to be developed

By Sarah Meklir

Managing Editor


In Monday’s (November 16) Howard County Board of Education meeting, representatives voted 5-2 to continue through April 14 with the current virtual learning format.

They additionally, in an email to parents and staff sent Tuesday, November 17 from the HCPSS Public Information team, informed the community about the recent developments:

“During its work session on Monday, November 16, 2020, the Howard County Board of Education voted to continue the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) in a virtual instructional model through the third academic quarter, which ends April 14, 2021.”

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Grab And Go: Howard County’s Food and Nutrition Services

By Marissa Yelenik

Online Editor

Source: The Baltimore Sun

In response to the needs of the community, HCPSS began a free meal distribution service this past March called Grab-N-Go to provide food at no cost for anyone 18 and under, and any HCPSS student. This service has been extended through the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year, but the cost is subject to the U.S. Department of Agriculture funding availability. Meals can be picked up at any HCPSS school, excluding Burleigh Manor Middle School and Hammond High School, which are both currently undergoing construction.

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Safety, Sports, Renovations, and More: Answering Your Questions

The Bear Press met with Hammond Principal John DiPaula to answer the questions circulating around the student community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Uma Ribeiro


Pictured above: Dr. DiPaula in front of Hammond High School, currently undergoing renovations.

With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and the sudden transfer to an online school environment came a wave of uncertainty and heightened worries among students. Underclassmen and upperclassmen alike have been curious about the future of learning at Hammond, with questions ranging from the sports season and second semester to renovations and safety measures. To answer some of these pressing questions and curb some of the anxiety within the Hammond community, The Bear Press sat down with Principal John DiPaula through a virtual meeting in which second semester scheduling, safety measures, renovations, sports, and online learning were discussed in detail. 

Dr. DiPaula began by answering questions on the possible return to in-person learning this school year. 

Second Semester

“The Board of Education made a decision back in July that we were not going to return back to the building for instructional purposes until third quarter. That decision was made. We have exams in our current schedule, [from] January 26th to January 28th and then…[students] are off the 29th, while teachers do grading, and then February 1st is the first day back for third quarter. Now, we don’t know if that’s going to be everybody back in the building full-time, business as usual, or if it’ll be a hybrid model where we’ll have half of the students come in [at a time],” he commented. 

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What Will Our Schedules Look Like if We Return to In-Person Learning?

By Sarah Linthicum

Staff Writer

The four model schedule has been something extremely new for all of us, and it has taken some getting used to. There are currently four online classes a day 45 minutes each, a 15 minute break in between classes, and a two hour time slot in the middle of the day to allow room for lunch and extra work time with teachers.

Once the first semester has ended, a new possibly hybrid plan for the second semester is to return to in person classes while continuing with the four class model, which is still subject to change. There are many questions we all have regarding the four class schedule for the second semester, and how it will affect a typical day if we do go back seeing as we have never had this schedule before. 

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The Plague in Our Country

By Ali Ahmed

Staff Writer

Source: The New York Times

The USA has been rocked by a virus that was initially underestimated. Going from 2,000 cases to 124,000 cases in the span of a few months, students expressed their own fears with High School Junior Muhammad Masood commenting, “It’s scary how fast it grew and how we had to sit back and just watch as it swept our country.” 

As of right now, in both America and Maryland itself, this virus is slowing down, with an estimated 563 new cases per day in Maryland alone in comparison to the 1,275 new cases a day we received back in May and June. With almost 130,000 cases and almost 4000 deaths, Maryland has a mortality rate of 3%, which may sound small but when talking about death, is actually extreme. For comparison, the Influenza Pandemic in 1918 had a mortality rate of about 2.5%, as reported by Stanford. 

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