The Damascus High School Signature Program

What is a Signature Program?
Montgomery County Public Schools offers many schools the opportunity to offer to all students a program of study that makes the school unique. The Montgomery County School Board decided that the program would be named a Signature program, such that it would be giving each school it's own "signature". The program at Damascus High School is a whole school program, which means that all students in the school have access to become students in one of the many Signature programs offered and to the courses, activities, programs and benefits of them. The signatures are designed to meet the needs of all students in the school, offering rigorous curriculum for able and interested students.

What is the Damascus Signature program?
The Signature program at Damascus High School is focused on Technology and also on Career Education. We have many programs that promote career education to students and most of these programs offer curriculum that will allow students to take industry standard certification exams so that when they leave Damascus High School they leave with not only an education, but also with an industry recognized and respected certification. At DHS we use funds available to the Signature Programs to purchase instructional materials that are relevant to each of the programs. Each of the programs require very specialized materials and equipment in order to provide the best education possible to the students. This equipment includes certified Cisco routers and equipment for the Cisco Academy, new computers and software for video editing in Television Productions, professional restaurant equipment for the Restaurant Management program, Advanced Placement study materials in computer programming, as well as study materials for all certification exams, digital projectors for instruction, color printers for students to create professional resumes, scanners for all students to create digital portfolios and a wide assortment of reference material for all classes. Funds also allow staff members to attend industry seminars and maintain their knowledge and skills in the various fields. All staff members teaching in Signature programs hold the industry certifications for the programs in which they teach.

What is the technology program of the Signature program?
The technology component is the Damascus Academy of Information technology (DHS AOIT). This program is a rigorous program of student that offers three strands for students to choose from. The first of the three stands is the Cisco Networking Academy strand. This program will prepare students to take at least two computer industry certification exams. One is the CompTIA A+ exam (, and the other test is the Cisco Certified Entry Level Network Technician (C-CENT). Students also have the opportunity to take the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam as well.

The second path is the Web Site Development strand. This program is a two year student is web design and the curriculum prepares students to take the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) exam, and is offered through The World Organization of Webmasters (

The third path of the AOIT is a computer programming strand. This program offers students one year of C++ programming language plus either one or two years of full object-oriented programming in JAVA. The first year of the program is in C++, followed by one or both of the JAVA courses. The first year JAVA course is an Advanced Placement (AP) course, Computer Science A, and the second year JAVA course is also AP and is Computer Science AB. Each course has been accredited by the College Board ( as meeting their standards for an AP course.

More information regarding the DHS AOIT and these three stands can be found on the DHS AOIT web site at

What other programs are within the DHS Signature program?
The focus on career education at Damascus High SChool is the largest such offering of all comprehensive high schools in Montgomery County. We have the following programs:
  • Horticulture, which provides curriculum for the Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH) exam offered through the American Society for Horticulture Science (
  • Automotive Technology, which provides curriculum for the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exam offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (
  • Construction Technology, which provides curriculum for the The National Center for Construction Education and Research ( and offers students up to 25 journeyman hours credit.
  • Professional Restaurant Management, which provides curriculum for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation ServSafe exam (  Over 250 students have earned their ServSafe certification in the past 5 years.  In this program students will participate in many catering jobs, such as weddings, bahmitzva's, award ceremonies and various meetings.  In the past 5 years students have won over $15,000 in scholarship money to attend Professional Chef school.
  • Television Productions, which provides a full course on both the many aspects of a news broadcast to the use of computer software used in editing video and producing a video.
What are benefits of being a member of one of the Damascus Signature programs?
  • Information Technology Internships - Each student in the AOIT have to fulfill the National Academy Foundation requirement of a summer internship that is in the information technology area. Read about the NAF internship.
  • IT Job Shadow Day - 20 AOIT students in 11-th grade will have the opportunity to participate in the Federal IT Job Shadow day.
  • In 2007 the group spent the day with members from the Information Technology team at the National Geospacial Intelligence Agency.
  • In 2008 the students went to the Department of the Interior IT department.
  • In 2009 the AOIT members visited the IT department of the Smithsonian Institute.
  • Automotive Challenge Competitions - Student in the Automotive Technology program have the opportunity to compete within the class in order to represent DHS in National Automotive competitions throughout the United States. Pictures from 2 students traveling to New York City for a competition.
  • Automotive Car Sales and Car Show - students participate in selling some of the cars that they repair. The Damascus annual car sale is held on a Saturday in February. Please check the main Damascus High School web page for details. Please watch the Automotive Trades web site in the spring for sale details. See pictures from previous shows
  • Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) - The DHS Automotive Technology program is a certified member of Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) which is a partnership among participating automotive manufacturers, participating dealers, and selected high schools/tech prep schools. It's designed to encourage young people to consider satisfying careers in retail automotive service, and prepare them for entry-level career positions or advanced studies in automotive technology.
  • Experience - Each year the students in the Construction program spend at least 50 - 80 hours of work on the residential house that the MCPS Construction Trades Foundation builds and sells in Montgomery County each year.
  • Experience - Students in the horticulture program design and install the landscaping for the residential house that the MCPS Construction Trades Foundation builds and sells in Montgomery County each year.
  • Catering Experience - The students participate in many catering jobs, such as weddings and bahmitzva's. Students cater a wedding in this Power Point show.
  • Scholarships - Many of the programs offer opportunities for scholarship money. All the AOIT students are eligible for National Academy Foundation scholarships. Scholarships are also offered in Automotive Technology and Horticulture. In 2005 DHS had the winner of a $10,000 scholarship in Construction Trades.
  • Clubs - When students are members of a Signature program they become a member of a smaller learning community, and a member of the respective club. This gives students the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities related to their respective programs of study. Our staff members sponsor many groups and clubs such as the only active school FFA club for Agriculture Education ( in Montgomery County. There is an Automotive club, a technology club and an audio-visual club.
  • College Credits - Each program offers an articulation agreement with various post-seconday schools for college credits. These agreements are mostly with Montgomery College, however there are others as well such as an agreement with the College of Culinary Arts of Johnson and Wales University and one for Automotive Technology with The Community College of Baltimore County at Catonsville. Individual program agreements can be found at the MCPS Career and Technology Education Departments web site under the College Tech Prep Career Pathways Toolkit.
  • Cisco CCENT
  • Cisco CCNA
  • CompTIA A+ Essentials
  • CompTIA IT Technician
  • CompTIA Remote Support Technician
  • CompTIA Depot Technician
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • ServSafe
  • Certified Professional Horticulturist
  • World Organization of Webmasters
  • Automotive Service Excellence
  • Advanced Placement Computer Science Exam

Success Stories
Here are a few of the many successes of the students
  • In 2009 Carlos Ramirez won a $5,000 scholarship to Johnson & Wales Chef School!
  • Andrew Burch won a $1,000 scholarship to L` Academie de Cuisine!

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