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& INTO THE BLENDER Violinist creates a marriage of classical, contemporary sounds B-5 The Gazette SILVER SPRING | TAKOMA PARK | BURTONSVILLE DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Wednesday, January 29, 2014 25 cents Exorcism death suspects facing mental evaluations The mobile generation Both women have been transferred to Perkins hospital n BY ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH STAFF WRITER A Montgomery County District Court judge has ordered the two Germantown women accused in the killings of two toddlers to undergo further psychiatric evaluation at a state mental hospital. Judge Eugene Wolfe on Tuesday ordered Monifa Sanford, 21, to be transferred to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup. Zakieya Avery, the mother of the two toddlers, was ordered to the maximum security psychiatric hospital Friday. Avery, 28, and Sanford told police Sanford Avery they were trying to cast out demons they believed had possessed the children. The women told investigators that they saw the children’s eyes turn black, and observed demons possessing them, skip- See EXORCISM, Page A-10 County Council taps Branson to fill its vacancy in District 5 Capitol Hill staffer from Silver Spring will finish Ervin’s term n BY RYAN MARSHALL STAFF WRITER TOM FEDOR/THE GAZETTE Deisy Izquierdo, who is 21 weeks pregnant, learns the sex of her next child from a mobile ultrasound unit test during her baby shower Sunday in Silver Spring. Izquierdo is holding the hand of her husband, Josue, as technician Betelhem Seleshi of Baby Joy 3D/4D Mobile Ultrasound conducts the exam. See story, Page A-4. Montgomery sees graduation rate rise Most student groups improve; decline in ESOL n BY LINDSAY A. POWERS STAFF WRITER A larger percentage of Montgomery County Public Schools seniors tossed their mortarboards in 2013 than in 2012, according to Maryland State Department of Education data released Tuesday. The county school system’s four-year graduation rate rose to 88.3 percent in 2013, an increase of about 1 percentage point from the 2012 senior class. The rate has increased about 1.5 percentage points since 2011. Montgomery’s rate stands about 3.3 percentage points higher than the state’s rate. Rates for student subgroups generally rose from 2012 to 2013 with the exception of the graduation rate for English for Speakers of Other Languages students, which declined slightly. Black students’ graduation rate increased by 1.6 percentage points to 83.9 percent. Hispanic students’ graduation rates rose by 0.8 percentage point to 77.5 percent. Special education students gained 4.7 percentages points for a 67.5 percent rate. Students who receive free and reduced-price meals — an indication of poverty — climbed 1.5 percentage points to a 78.1 graduation rate. The graduation rate of ESOL students declined about 1 percentage point after an increase of 3.9 percentage points from 2011 to 2012. The county school system also See GRADUATION, Page A-10 SPORTS PASSION, PATIENCE AND COMMUNICATION The best players aren’t always the best coaches: a look at qualities of a great coach. B-1 Silver Spring resident Cherri Branson will serve out the remainder of former Councilwoman Valerie Ervin’s term on the Montgomery County Council after being unanimously chosen by the other councilmembers Tuesday. The position opened up when Ervin resigned Jan. 3 to take a job as the chief executive of the Working Families Coalition, a New York nonprofit advocacy organization. Branson currently serves as chief oversight counsel for the Committee on Homeland Security working for the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). In a statement Tuesday, she said she was honored to be nominated, and pledged to work hard to represent the voters of District 5, which includes Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Burtonsville. Cherri Branson, newly appointed Montgomery County Council member in District 5. Branson said she was familiar with many of the issues facing the district, but would work to quickly get up to speed on other issues. Branson will retain members of Ervin’s staff, who can help in her transition. In an interview this month, she said See BRANSON, Page A-10 Takoma Park group working to launch hyperlocal radio station n Organizers want to bring back community media BY SARAH SCULLY STAFF WRITER Imagine a local radio station that covered community barbecues, aired oral histories from neighbors and played music by local bands or dance music from El Salvador and Ethiopia. This is what Marika Partridge and Diana Kohn envision for Takoma Radio, a prposed nonprofit station in Takoma Park. Basically, anything you don’t usually hear on the radio is what they want Automotive Business Calendar Celebrations Classified Entertainment Opinion School News Sports Please to include. The hyperlocal, low-power FM station would be heard only within 5 miles of the transmitter. “We don’t have real local media. It’s been dying,” Partridge said. Most radio in the region plays either popular music or national and worldwide news, he said. Local coverage is hard to come by. “We’re trying to bring that subversive local radio back,” she said. Partridge spearheaded the Takoma Radio project about 2½ years ago after learning about the opportunity from someone affiliated with Prometheus See RADIO, Page A-10 B-14 A-11 A-2 A-13 B-10 B-5 A-14 A-12 B-1 RECYCLE Check out our Services Directory ADVERTISING INSIDE B SECTION 1906236

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