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Theresa Dardanell

After a first place win at the Frederick County Envirothon competition, the Catoctin High School (CHS) team placed sixth (out of seventeen teams) at the state competition in June at the Maryland 4-H Environmental Education and Camping Center in Garrett County.  In the Wildlife competition, they were awarded second place.

The members of the CHS team, named The Primary Successors, were Zack Carter, Samantha Grimes, Edison Hatter, Jimmy Kempisty, and Devin Shorb. With the help of advisors April Wells and Ron Albaugh, the five seniors (now graduates) prepared for the competition that included tests in five areas: aquatics, forestry, soil, wildlife, and a fifth topic that changes every year (this year, it was rangeland management).

The students met not only during school hours but also on their own time to learn as much as possible about each topic. Preparation included absorbing information from books, diagrams, field guides, and websites, as well as hands-on training. When I met with the students during one of their practice sessions at the school, they were preparing for the aquatics test by identifying various fish. They know and rely on each other’s strengths during testing. Wells said that they each take one part of the exam and then work together to finalize their answers. It was obvious that they work well together as a team and that they have fun at the same time.

Pictured from left are Edison Hatter, Devin Shorb, Samantha Grimes, Jimmy Kempisty, and Zach Carter.

Area churches and organizations in Emmitsburg, Lewistown, Rocky Ridge, Sabillasville and Thurmont are working to provide students in need with school supplies for the 2017-2018 school year.  This program is to assist students attending the Catoctin Feeder Schools. These schools include Emmitsburg Elementary, Lewistown Elementary & Pyramid Program, Sabillasville Elementary, Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle and Catoctin High.

The Annual Catoctin Community School Supply Drive is going to be held on Tuesday, August 21st  from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Graceham Moravian Church located at 8231 Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont.

If you would like to donate to this program, please drop off school supplies, cash donations or gift cards (Walmart) to the church on August 15th from 9:00 a.m. until Noon.

Any questions or concerns, please contact coordinator, Jennifer Harbaugh at 301-639-9970 or

The Thurmont Lions Club (TLC) held its Education Night on May 9, 2018.  TLC was honored to have Mark Pritts, Frederick County Public School’s instructional director, as the guest speaker.

On March 19, the Thurmont Lions Club held its Teacher of the Year reception. There were eight teachers honored as the “Teacher of the Year” for their respective schools. Of these eight teachers, a “Teacher of the Year” for the Thurmont Lions Club, was honored. The Lions Club was very successful in showing Pritts what a wonderful partnership the Thurmont Lions Club has developed with the area schools. Remember, a teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart of the students. The 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year was Melissa Kearchner, Emmitsburg Elementary School. She was nominated by a fellow teacher, parents, and students.

This year, during the Thurmont Lions Club’s Teacher of the Year program, they became aware of a very special teacher, Bonnie Hopkins. She has devoted her career to helping young students start their education in a positive and motivated manner. She is retiring this year, and the TLC wanted to take this opportunity to thank her for her commitment to the young people of Northern Frederick County.

During the Thurmont Lions Club Education Night ceremony on May 9, 2018, four scholarships were awarded to Catoctin High School (CHS) seniors.  Three scholarships are awarded competitively based on academic achievement, participation activities, and financial need. These students not only achieved honors, but also spent many hours performing volunteer work, along with participating in a wide variety of activities. Community service is one of the most popular extracurricular activities for high school students to do in their free time. These volunteer hours are very impressive when your application is reviewed for college acceptance.

Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Cameron Hewitt, who will be attending the University of Maryland; Avie Hopcraft, who will be attending Baylor University; and Sean Miller, who will be attending Rensselaer Polytech Institute.

Hannah Barth, recipient of the Vic Jagow Scholarship, was awarded $1,250 for her fourth year of a four-year scholarship. She will be attending the University of Wisconsin. The student receives the scholarship for four consecutive years, depending on grade-point average

These scholarships are made possible from the Community Birthday Calendar fundraiser that has been granting these scholarships for over forty-six years. These deserving seniors and the Thurmont Lions Club thank supporters for their generosity.

Theresa Dardanell

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) recently recognized Rachel Misner as the 2018 Instructional Assistant of the Year. She is one of eight support employees recognized for outstanding achievement.

Misner is the Lab Assistant for the Catoctin High School (CHS) Science Department. She was nominated by teachers Tom Mills, April Wells, and Theresa Hutchinson. Misner’s duties include preparing lab equipment and materials for science classes, ordering supplies, and keeping the department running smoothly, but she doesn’t stop there.

Wells said, “She offers her assistance to other departments and areas in the building if she has spare time.” Hutchinson added, “She has assisted with planning and running homecoming, Science National Honor Society, and planning the school’s upcoming 50th anniversary.”

In his nomination letter, Mills said, “Rachel has had a positive transformational effect on this department. Just by loving her job, being herself, respecting others, and expecting the best from others has had a tremendous positive impact on this department and our school community.”

Rachel Misner, 2018 Instructional Assistant of the Year.

Theresa Dardanell

“Girls on the Run” is so much more than the 5K run that was held on June 2, 2018; it is the conclusion of a program that combines physical training for the run with lessons and games that promote friendship and teach life skills.

Twenty girls at Thurmont Elementary School (TES) participated in the program that ran from March through May. The girls met twice a week after school with coaches Tammy Brotman and Doris Grossnickle. After a healthy snack, the coaches presented lessons on communication, strength, star power, empathy, cooperation, how to be a good friend, and how to deal with problems. The meetings concluded with practice runs that were held outside during good weather and inside on the many rainy days we had this spring. Coaches Brotman and Grossnickle were assisted by staff members Amanda Giauque, Julie Desmond, Andrew Piccolo, and Brooke Cipolla.

“The program is self-empowering for girls. It teaches girls to believe in themselves and get their inner light to shine,” said Grossnickle.

According to the Girls on the Run website, girls “develop essential skills to help them navigate their worlds and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness. The program culminates with girls positively impacting their communities through a service project and being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K event.”

For their service project, the girls planted flowers in the courtyard and in pots in front of the school to add color and beauty. They also made bird feeders to put in trees around the building.

Thurmont Elementary School “Girls on the Run,” with coaches Tammy Brotman, Doris Grossnickle, and Amanda Giauque.

Theresa Dardanell

Catoctin High School (CHS) athletes who signed up to attend  colleges and universities in the fall.


Football: Will Bingman, Clarion University; Joey Fogle, Gettysburg College.


Soccer: Noah Olson, Frederick Community College.


Baseball: Ryan Fisher, Mount St. Mary’s University; Dylan Reid, Hagerstown Community College; Nick Ford, Frederick Community College; Brett Weatherly, Fairmont State University; Connor Cramer, Fairmont State University.


Lacrosse: Colin Webb, Messiah College; Brenden Bozick, Frederick Community College; Sam Staley, Frederick Community College.


Softball: Lizzie Dougherty, Frederick Community College; Taylor Beckley, Frederick Community College; Maddie Krantz, Penn State.


A ceremony was held at CHS on May 23, 2018, to recognize the athletes. Assistant Athletic Director Keith Bruck introduced the coaches, Paul Dumars, Rob Phelan, Mike Franklin, and Neil Metzgar, who praised and congratulated the students. An enthusiastic crowd of parents, families, friends, and fellow students attended the event.

Pictured are ten of the student athletes recognized during the signing ceremony at Catoctin High School. Pictured left to right are Brett Weatherly, Dylan Reid, Nick Ford, Ryan Fisher, Connor Cramer, Joey Fogle, Will Bingman, Colin Webb, Brendan Bozick, and Noah Olson. Unavailable for photo: Sam Staley, Lizzie Dougherty, Taylor Beckley, and Maddie Krantz.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

The Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) Food and Nutrition Services Department is participating in the United States Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program to provide free breakfast and lunch at some local schools.

The Summer Program that will be in operation at Thurmont Elementary, located at 805 E. Main Street in Thurmont, is available to all children the age of eighteen years and under.

The children do not have to be a student at the school to participate and do not need to be accompanied by a parent.

Please enter the side of the school through the cafeteria doors.

Free meals will be provided Mondays through Thursdays, through August 16, with breakfast from 9:00-9:30 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Theresa Dardanell

Seven Thurmont Middle School (TMS) students recently attended the Maryland Association of Student Councils convention in Ocean City.  This event gives the TMS Student Government Association (SGA) members the opportunity to improve their leadership skills. They listened to a motivational speaker, attended leadership workshops, and met with other student leaders from across the state.

The SGA members at TMS  are chosen based on their grades, their attendance at afterschool meetings, and their participation in school and evening events. They meet once a week during the school day to brainstorm ways to improve school spirit and to make their school a comfortable place for students.  They visit classrooms and lead discussions with students; concerns and ideas are then forwarded to the administration by Student Government Advisor Angela Knapp.

The SGA members also plan, organize, and run events like the game days, the afterschool open gym, and the evening candy bingos. Knapp said, “They are great. I’ve definitely seen them grow.  They really like being leaders and just being able to help others and increase the school spirit.”

I met with the students who attended the conference and was impressed with their confidence and genuine concern for their fellow students.

SGA President Sean Whitworth said that he joined the organization so that students know they have somebody looking out for them.

Natalie Dodson is looking forward to being a community leader to help other people.

The other students who attended the conference were: John Gidcumb, Charlotte Bradley, Cheyenne Van Echo, Morgan Ridenour, and Peyton Moxley.

Other SGA members are Maddie Ring, Skyler Payne, Traci Stine, Peyton Davis, Kayleigh Frantz, Natalie Hoty, Nikita Burris, Randall Hall, and Samantha Davis.

Pictured are John Gidcumb, Charlotte Bradley, Cheyenne Van Echo, Morgan Ridenour, Sean Whitworth, Natalie Dodson, and Peyton Moxley.

Theresa Dardanell

The CHS Science Olympiad Team is pictured with coaches Rebecca Hurley and Theresa Hutchinson. Not pictured: Coach Doug Young.

Congratulations to the Catoctin High School (CHS) Science Olympiad team. They recently competed in the Maryland State Tournament at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  According to their coaches, “The nerd trials lasted close to ten hours. The cougars competed against 24 teams (12 in our division). We placed 10th in our division and 23rd in the State! This was our very first time qualifying for the state level competition. It was a wonderful experience for the students.”

Students competing in the events were: Zack Carter and Grace Mazaleski — Microbe Mission; Emmalynn May and Sophia Degennaro — Write It Do It; Kyle Dutrow and Sophia Degennaro — Game One; Michael Yang and Sean Miller — Helicopters; Sophia Degennaro and Madison Raimondi — Thermodynamics; Michael Yang and Kallan Latham — Chemistry Lab; Zack Carter and Grace Mazaleski — Ecology; Avie Hopcraft and Kallan Latham — Optics; Kyle Dutrow and Emmalynn May — Remote Sensing; Kallen Latham and Karianna Strickhouser — Mission Possible; Sam Grimes and Lauren Ames — Material Science; Zack Carter and Grace Mazaleski — Herpetology; Maddy Reynolds, Sophia Degennaro, and Sean Miller — Experimental Design; Karianna Strickhouser and Madison Raimondi — Dynamic Planet; Sean Miller and Kyle Dutrow — Hovercraft; Michael Yang and Sean Miller — Towers; Sam Grimes and Michael Yang — Rocks and Minerals; Lauren Ames and Avie Hopcraft — Forensics; Emmalynn May, Madison Raimondi, and Maddy Reynolds — Astronomy; Grace Mazaleski and Zack Carter — Disease Detectives; Sean Miller and Sam Grimes — Fermi Questions; Avie Hopcraft and Grace Mazaleski — Anatomy and Physiology; Sean Miller and Michael Yang — Mousetrap Vehicle; Devon Shorb and Teairah Velasquez were alternates.

CHS Science Olympiad coaches are Rebecca Hurley, Theresa Hutchinson, and Doug Young.

Mother Seton School (MSS) is pleased to announce that The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) has recertified MSS as a 2018 Maryland Green School. Maryland Green Schools are part of a national and international community of sustainable green schools. There are 618 active Maryland Green Schools, over 27 percent of all Maryland schools, a 2 percent growth from 2017. MSS was the first Catholic school in Frederick Country to receive Green School certification, having first been certified in 2009.

The Maryland Green Schools program encourages educational opportunities for Pre-K–12 schools that increase awareness and understanding of environmental relationships that impact public health and the local community. A few of the initiatives adopted by MSS include lunchtime composting, the Monarch Waystation, and integration of the Trout in the Classroom program, where seventh-grade students raise trout from eggs to fingerlings before releasing them into the wild.

“Our recertification demonstrates our commitment to teaching our students values such as stewardship, that we are responsible for God’s creation and have a duty to protect and care for the earth,” said Mother Seton School principal Sister Brenda Monahan, D.C.

Senior, Solomon Weisgerber, was selected as this year’s recipient of the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County,” representing  Catoctin High School.

Solomon is recognized at Catoctin High as someone with a positive, caring attitude, who promotes peace among those around him, always smiling and cheerful, willing to hear the other side and respect the opinion of others, someone who will sit down with someone who is struggling or upset in an effort to be of help.

Solomon states, “The name Solomon actually means peaceful, and I act on this by helping others find peace with themselves and in their lives through Jesus Christ.”

Each year, high schools in Frederick County are invited to choose one of their students to receive the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County.” The purpose of the award is to honor students who are helping to make our world a better place by promoting the values of peacemaking, conflict resolution, and respect for all people. This year all eleven public high schools and two private high schools in Frederick County selected a student to receive the award.

The award comes with a $200 check and a $100 contribution to the charity of the student’s choice. For his designated charity, Solomon has chosen Brooke’s House, a home for adult women recovering from alcohol and substance use disorder, located in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Awards were formally presented at a peace conference and awards ceremony held at Friends Meeting School in Ijamsville, on April 14, 2018.

Pictured are Solomon Weisgerber and Catoctin High School Principal Bernard Quesada.

Frederick County Public Schools received the news that Catoctin High School is named a National School of Character. The nonprofit evaluates character initiatives in schools and communities around the world. Catoctin is the only Maryland high school on the 2018 list of four schools statewide and seventy-three schools making the list nationwide.

The recognition was announced at the May 18 conference of the New Jersey Alliance for Social, Emotional, and Character Development at Rider University. Each year, and its state affiliates certify schools that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development, with a positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior, school climate, and their communities. To qualify for national consideration, Catoctin High was already declared a Maryland School of Character, a distinction it has earned each of the past five years. will honor Catoctin High School and other National Schools of Character at its 25th National Forum on Character in Washington, D.C., October 4-7, 2018.