1 Opportunity SchoolsAccording to the nonprofit Maryland Campaign for Achievement Now (MarylandCAN), eight Baltimore city schools, called "opportunity schools," outperformed most other schools around the state in standardized tests, despite the fact that more than 80 percent of their students qualified for free or reduced price meals, an indicator of poverty. The schools-Hamilton Elementary, Thomas Johnson Middle, Cecil Elementary, Tunbridge Public Charter School, Liberty Elementary, the Empowerment Academy, the Mount Washington School, and Medfield Heights Elementary- are proof that poverty and low achievement need not go hand-in-hand. They should be a model for schools throughout the city.
2 AquariumThe dolphin shows that have been a major draw at Baltimore's National Aquarium for years may soon end, and the dolphins moved to an oceanside sanctuary, according to a proposal from president John Racanelli. Driven in part by the movie Blackfish, which shows the treatment of orcas at Orlando's SeaWorld, public sentiment about shows featuring captive dolphins and whales has started to turn, but it's still a bold, brave move by the Aquarium-which is generally trying to transition from being primarily a tourist attraction to more of a conservation group-which stands to lose a significant portion of its revenue in the process.
3 Chick-Fil-AThe processed-chicken purveyor, with the ads in which cows with bad spelling beg for their lives, opens a new outlet at Canton Crossing this month. The chain has a well-earned reputation for contributing to anti-LGBT groups like Family Research Council and Exodus International over the years, but has made strides recently, cutting off most of the controversial funding. LGBT activist Shane Windmeyer, who started the largest boycott against the chain, called it off and even went to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl with CEO Dan Cathy. But even if they're not bigots anymore, they still a chain that makes gross fast-food chicken. Go to DiPasquales, Matthew's, Ikaros, or any one of thousand locally-owned spots in walking distance instead.
4 Old BayOur beloved local seasoning is looking to hit the big time. First came the announcement of Flying Dog Brewery's Old Bay-flavored Dead Rise seasonal brew. Now comes word of the product's first ever TV commercials, to air regionally, and new frozen-food products like Old Bay Seasoned Fries and Old Bay Potato Bites, available in 1,000 Wal-Marts, among other outlets. We love ourselves some Old Bay, but we're good with containing it to our crabs and our popcorn. You can keep the Old Bay toothpaste, sure to be in development.
5 WalmartOne place you won't find Old Bay Seasoned Fries and Old Bay Potato Bites is on 25th and Howard streets, the site of a proposed Wal-Mart Superstore that had been in the works for more than seven years. WV Urban Developments, which spent over $5 million developing the project, which provoked strong objections from many residents, officially gave up this week. The Sun reports that Seawall Development may take over the project, which would be great, given their Remington track record-unless this project curses them too.