Charles County Public Schools communications staff recently received three awards through the Chesapeake Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association's (CHESPRA) 2012 Communications Contest. Awards received include the Award of Excellence in the newsletter category for School News, the school system's semimonthly staff newsletter. The Award of Excellence is the highest award a contest entry can receive.

Additionally, the 2011-12 Charles County Public Schools Parent Handbook/Calendar received an Award of Merit, the second highest award available in the contest. A special events video highlighting the Every 15 Minutes program featured at Thomas Stone High School last school year also received an Honorable Mention award.

The awards ceremony is held at the fall CHESPRA conference every year to showcase work from school systems in the Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. This year the conference was held in Alexandria, Va., in October. The school system's communications department produced all contest entries during the 2011-12 school year.

The contest was split into three separate divisions, based on the enrollment numbers of the participating school districts. Charles County Public Schools entries were judged in the largest division, which included districts with enrollments of more than 25,000 students.

The communications department consists of Katie O'Malley-Simpson, Director of Communications; Shelley Mackey, Communications Specialist; Kyle Graves, Video Production Technician; Kara Gross, Communications Multimedia Assistant; and Julia Tate, Web Specialist.

For more information on CHESPRA, visit

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,700 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 caring community schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students), or Connie W. Armstead, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646; (301) 932-6610/870-3814. For special accommodations call (301) 934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.