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Theresa Dardanell

Because first impressions are important, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) encourages all schools to demonstrate “curb appeal”—a clean, well-maintained and welcoming appearance.

This year, Thurmont Elementary School (TES) and Thurmont Middle School (TMS) earned an award for “Outstanding Curb Appeal.”  Although maintenance of the interior of the buildings is just as important, the focus of this award is the exterior: what students and parents see when they first arrive at school.

Award criteria included maintenance of grass, trees, bushes and flowerbeds; condition of the building, fences, walkways, curbs, and parking lots; playgrounds that are ready for the students; and signs updated with current information.  Vince Bentz, lead custodian at TMS, and Brenda Martins, lead custodian at TES, both said that teamwork is essential and that everyone on their crew works well together.  They work very hard, not just during the summer, but all year long.

John Carnahan, FCPS custodial services manager, said “…TES and TMS are examples of the awesome things that our teams do each and every day in support of students, staff, and their communities.”

Thurmont Middle School

Pictured from left: Paul Lebo (FCPS Central Office), John Carnahan (FCPS Central Office), Mike Frushour (Custodian), Cindy Frock (Custodian), Richard White (Custodian), Gayle Smith (Custodian), Vince Bentz (Lead Custodian), Anita Shank (Assistant Principal), and Daniel Enck (Principal). Missing from photo: Robert Welsh (Assistant Lead Custodian) and Dan VanFossen (Custodian).

Courtesy Photo

Thurmont Elementary School

Pictured from left: Custodian Matt Claggett, Principal Christina McKeever, Custodian Susie Cool, Lead Custodian Brenda Martins, and Custodian Wanda Frye.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

The Catoctin High School (CHS) Sports Boosters will hold its 9th Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 2, 2017, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the CHS Cafeteria.

Cougar apparel, blankets, stadium seats, hats, and miscellaneous novelty items will be available for your Christmas shopping. There will be light refreshments.  Payment may be made by cash, check, or credit card for Sports Boosters items. Organizations within CHS and sports teams will be invited to have their current fundraisers available for your Holiday purchases (cash or check will be accepted by each individual group or team).

For more information, please contact Bob Marlow at 443-829-3809.

On October the 18, 2017, the 1955 graduating class of Thurmont High School celebrated each of their 80th birthdays at The Carriage House in Emmitsburg.

Ernest Rice spoke on their friendships lasting over the years, and of the loss of their friend and class president Robert Stitely a few days earlier. Class members attending were: Lela Angleberger Weaver, Raymond Bentz, Jim Bostian, Nancy Carback Riffle, Janice Dubel Zapkie, Patricia Eyler Raymond, Jenna Lea Harbaugh Ott, Barbara Jackson Diffenbaugh, Grace May Blickenstaff, Juaniata Myers Bowers, Phyllis Moser Schell, Louise Null Humerick, Ernest Rice, Doris Smith Rippeon, Peggy Wachter Laster, and Betty Willard Kunkel.

Following the luncheon, prizes were awarded for the following: the member coming the longest distance—Janice Dubel Zabkie from Arizona; the oldest female member—Patricia Eyler Raymond; the oldest male member—Ernest Rice; the youngest female member—Phyllis Moser Schell; the youngest male member—Jim Bostian.

“The years at Thurmont High School gave us many fond memories,” said Lela Angleberger Weaver.

After much discussion about their days, a list of questions was presented to each member. Louise Null Humerick answered over 50 percent correctly and received a prize. A good time was had by all. They all look forward to meeting again in June at the Thurmont High School Alumni Banquet.


Theresa Dardanell

Congratulations to Catoctin High School (CHS) seniors, Edison Hatter, Casey Ecker, and Jude O’Donnell.  They won the first round in the Baltimore region It’s Academic competition against Eastern Tech and Franklin High Schools.

The show was held on September 16, 2017, at the WJZ Studio in Baltimore, and will air on October 21 at 10:00 a.m. on WJZ-TV Channel 13.

According to their coach, CHS teacher Douglas Young, “They are a group of seniors who have been working together for three years now as a team. It showed on Saturday.  They were confident and prepared when they walked in the door, and it showed.”

They will compete against River Hill High and Middletown High in the playoffs on January 27, 2018.

The Emmitsburg High School’s 93rd Annual Alumni Banquet will be held on Saturday, October 21, 2017. All graduates of Emmitsburg High School, and all who attended the school at some time, are invited. They are asked to seek out classmates and encourage them to attend. Graduation is not a requirement. Teachers of the Emmitsburg School are also invited.

The event will be held at the Emmitsburg Ambulance Center, located at 17701 Creamery Road in Emmitsburg. Social Hour will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:00 p.m. The cost for the dinner is $25.00. Honored class photos will be taken after the meeting. Anyone that has not received an invitation and would like to attend may call Sam Valentine at 301-447-2507 or e-mail

A New Chapter

by Anita DiGregory

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning here in the area I am blessed to call home. The sun is shining. The sound of my children playing in the distance is ringing in the air. But instead of enjoying the day out with the family, I am sitting at the kitchen table, head down, suffering major writer’s block. My column for October is due, and I can’t seem to make it happen.

I love October. The weather, the colors, the boots, the sweaters—I love it all. But now as I sit here in a heap, I can’t find the words. I want to make it easy; I could use something easy, something simple. A nice simple topic, totally opposite from the whirlwind my life has been lately; something completely opposite from all the doctor’s visits, the high school dramas, the broken hearts, the never-ending to-do lists, the constant running, the juggling of all the balls in the air. Easy, that’s what I need. Hmm…what is October the month of? I do a quick internet search. No, that won’t do. What is wrong with me? October.

I look up, glance at the fridge and think about how it’s a perfect metaphor for my life: it’s an organized mess. The bills, the deadlines, the work schedules, the have to do’s, all stuck up there amongst the beautiful prayers, crayon pictures created with care by sweet, little hands, the wise messages telling me to keep calm, and the family pictures…all the family photos. And then the tears fall. In October, things will change, again.  As I glance at the counters, I spot them: all the messy reminders, the rehearsal dinner venue brochures, the caterer cards, the bridal shower decorations…yup, October is coming fast.

And now with all the proverbial floodgates open, all I can think about is my little one, my baby who somehow grew up overnight. How did that happen? I know all the experienced moms out there told me:  “Don’t blink. Don’t miss a minute.  They’ll be all grown up before you know it.” And, of course, they were right; I knew they were right all along. I tried to heed the wise advice.  Like special dried flowers pressed into old scrapbooks, I tried over the years to press into my memory all the special moments: all the firsts, the little fingers wrapped around my finger, the walks on the beach, the arms wrapped around my neck in sweet embrace. I honestly think the feeling of having sweet little arms wrapped around you has to be one of the greatest feelings on Earth, like a tiny glimpse of what Heaven must feel like.

Then, with a blink of a tear, my memory transports me back to the new mommy class I attended nearly twenty-four years ago, when I was a brand new momma, sitting there with my brand new little one in a room full of new moms and babies.  In an attempt to conduct an (always awkward) ice-breaker, the instructor asked each member of this sleep-deprived, hormonal, anxious crowd to identify the one thing we found to be the most surprising about being a mother for the first time. I remember my answer. There was not much I was sure of back then. I was nervous, felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and was absolutely terrified of the day my husband’s time off would run out; he would return to work, and I would be all alone in the house with this new bundle of joy. But I was sure of my answer to her question. As a brand new mom, I was most surprised by how deeply and completely I felt joy and love: the joy of experiencing being mom each new moment to this beautiful baby and the unbounded, unconditional love for this child and my new little family.

Fast forward to today and not too much has changed. My family has grown by leaps and bounds, and will be blessed with yet another sweet, beautiful family member in October, when my son joins his life to his new bride. And although every single day is a crazy ride on this roller coaster of life, I am blessed by every single crazy moment, ups and downs. Half of the time (probably more than half), I still feel like I have no idea what I am doing. But the truth is, this mom thing is crazy hard, and it’s okay not to have the answers all the time. Honestly, the more I realize how little control I have, the more I realize Who does have control, and the more time I spend in prayer, and that’s a pretty great place to be. I am still in awe at being mom to some of the beautiful blessings in my life, and being able to experience every new day, challenge, failure, mistake, and success with them.    And although it is hardly ever easy and always messy, there is nowhere else on earth I would rather be.

So, come October, I will joyfully watch my son as he joins hands with his bride, exchanges vows, and they begin a new life together. And even though he may be grown and quite a bit taller than me now, this mom will undoubtedly turn into a puddle of tears when he wraps his arms around me, says goodbye, and begins a new chapter. October.

Theresa Dardanell

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”  —Albert Einstein

Students enjoyed an extra-long summer vacation this year. When they return to school on September 5, they will meet some new teachers, administrators, and support staff.


Catoctin High School

Welcome: Shannon Stone, guidance counselor; Alyssa Burdette, math teacher; Evan Felmet, music/CTE teacher; Angie Gallik, social studies teacher; Rob Nutter, special education teacher; Shannon Snowman, instructional assistant; Alyssa Manninen, special education instructional assistant; Leeah Hawes, custodian.


Thurmont Middle School

Welcome: Anita Shank, assistant principal; Christine Newman, administrative secretary; Jessica Penn, science teacher; Eric Bokinsky, technical education teacher; Kelly Steele, physical education/health teacher; Suzanne Buxbaum, band teacher; Jennifer Thoma, special education teacher; Kelly Pizza, community liaison. Daniel Enck was promoted from assistant principal to principal.


Thurmont Elementary

Welcome: Amanda Giauque, fifth grade teacher; Andrew Piccolo, fifth grade teacher; Brooke Cipolla, fourth grade teacher; Jennifer Thoma, special education teacher.


Thurmont Primary

Welcome: Ellen Parkhurst and Lindsey Stracener, special education assistants.


Lewistown Elementary

Welcome: Heather Burgess, physical education teacher; Erica Gray-O’Leary and Madeline Hart, special education pyramid teachers; Jeanette Monteith, special education pre-K teacher; April Sprecher, special education coordinator; Dora King, music teacher; Eileen Knapp, Virginia Johnson, and Michele Routzahn, special education instructional assistants.


Sabillasville Elementary

Welcome: Karen McKenzie, special education teacher; Allen Cosner, user support specialist.

Catoctin High School (CHS) has earned a 2016-17 School of the Year Award from the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University (MCCE).

Principal Bernard Quesada commends school counselor Dana Brashear for outstanding work leading to this recognition, which will include a School of the Year banner for Catoctin to display, a certificate of recognition, and attendance at an October 5 awards program at the university’s Rockland Center, Owings Mills campus.

“Schools of character prove that when school communities come together for a common purpose, amazing things happen,” said CHS Principal Quesada. “Our commitment to operating as a school of character works to safeguard our kids and our community.”

“In schools of character, adults embrace their critical role as models. Teachers work together as professionals—and with parents and community members as partners—to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day,” according to the Character Education Partnership (CEP) website,

This is the fifth consecutive year Catoctin High School has earned MCCE School of the Year recognition.

James Kempisty, Catoctin FFA Chapter Reporter

September is here, and with it, comes a new school year at Catoctin High School. I am pleased to announce that at our banquet on May 18, 2017, the Catoctin FFA Chapter elected eleven new officers. The officers are: President Maddie Krantz, Vice President Megan McIntosh, Sentinel Nate Schwartzbeck, Reporter James Kempisty, Treasurer Hannah Hartness, Secretary Sierra Weatherly, Jr. Advisor Abby Kinnard, Parliamentarian Robert Hahn, Historian Alexis Morgan, Chaplain Noah Barth, and Social Media Chair Savannah Stull.

Over the Summer, the Catoctin FFA Chapter had teams competing in nine different Career/Leadership Development Events (CDE/LDE). At the 89th Maryland State FFA Convention at the Maritime Institute, Catoctin had twenty-one members attending and had two teams place first in the state. Catoctin has four teams and one individual representing Maryland at the National FFA Convention in October in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Ag-Marketing team consists of members Carley McGhee, Maddie Godlove, and Alexis Morgan. The Ag-Sales team include members Kaleb Mercedes, Robert Hahn, Maddie Krantz, and Kiah Morgan. The Horse Judging team includes members Mackenzie Henderson, Destiny Snedegar, Sierra Weatherly, and Tierney Monaghan. The Farm Business Management Team consists of members Tiffany Lenhart, Megan McIntosh, Hannah Hartness, and Stephanie Moreland. Abby Kinnard will represent Maryland in the Creed speaking Leadership Development Event.

Catoctin was recently recognized by the National FFA Organization as being a two-star chapter, meaning that Catoctin, as a chapter, participates in over fifteen activities throughout the year and goes well above and beyond minimum requirements set for FFA chapters at the national level. We will receive our award at the National FFA Convention.

In July, Catoctin’s officers attended the Region 2 Leadership Conference. FFA advisors and past state officers taught many new skills in communication, advocacy, leadership, and officer responsibilities. At the Thurmont parade, Catoctin FFA entered a float with the theme, “Going Hog Wild for the Catoctin FFA,” and was awarded first place for youth entry floats. We participated in the Rocky Ridge parade, too.

We are all very thankful for the enormous support the community gives us each and every year, and look forward to an exciting new school year.

The YMCA is launching a new initiative, in partnership with the Frederick County Government, through the Office for Children and Families and the Frederick County Public Schools.

This grant will provide funding to the YMCA that supports daily activities that will include the following: sports and recreation; tutoring and academic enrichment; arts and humanities; readiness training for college and careers; and service learning and community service.

Research indicates that students that are actively involved and engaged in structured “out-of-school” programs demonstrate an improvement in their academic accomplishments, and social and behavioral outcomes, compared to students who do not participate in enrichment activities. The YMCA has also partnered with Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley and New Spire Arts to create a comprehensive program that will also include weekly off-site field trips.

The S.T.A.R.S. program will be hosted at three locations, serving students from the following five Middle Schools: Thurmont, West Frederick Middle School, Crestwood Middle School, Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School, and Monocacy Middle School. The goal will be to serve a minimum of thirty students from each location and to ultimately create a solid program base of participants that will support a stand-alone program at each campus.  The first year, the YMCA will plan to transport Crestwood students and Monocacy students off-site, depending on enrollment.

Program registration began on August 21, 2017, at the Downtown YMCA.  YMCA staff will also be in attendance at each of the five Middle School Open Houses and Back to School Nights to provide more detail on the program specifics and assist with on-site registration. The S.T.A.R.S. program will begin on Monday, September 18, 2017, from school dismissal until 6:30 p.m., and will operate Monday through Friday.

For additional information on the program description, daily activities, and how to register, visit the website and contact Julie Marker, Youth/Teen Coordinator at or call 301-663-5131, ext. 1227. View their advertisement on page 3.

by Anita DiGregory

New (School) Year’s Resolutions

As we prepare to say goodbye to the long, carefree days of summer, you, too, may be channeling the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi and feeling, “…a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of (students’) voices suddenly cried out in terror (at the thought of beginning a new school year).” And, although my children would be among those crying out, as a mom, I must admit I am not too keen on trading in those lazy, hazy, crazy days of the summer for the over-scheduled, hectic pace of another school year.

Each year at this time, I find myself repeating the same internal mantra, “This year I’ll do it better.  This year I’ll be more organized.  This year I won’t overcommit.”

But as we slide into fall and the hint of winter is in the air, inevitably, I am knee-deep in school work, homework, work-work, practices, games, and a myriad of other activities that fall under mom duties. It is at this time, with all the proverbial balls up in the air, that I have to remind myself to breathe.

With this in mind, I offer myself, and all of the other parents out there who need to remind themselves to exhale, a list of new (school) year’s resolutions. In honor of this new school year, each resolution is backed up by treasured characters from favorite children’s books. I wish all of you a blessed and wonderful new school year, filled with fun adventures, love, and beautiful memories. And may the Force be with you!


Have faith in yourself…you’ve got this.

There is no arguing that this mom-thing is super hard sometimes. Oprah Winfrey said of motherhood, “I always say moms have the toughest job in the world if you’re doing it right.” President Obama stated, “There’s no tougher job than being a mom.” Renowned author C.S. Lewis referenced a housewife’s work as “surely, in reality, the most important work in the world.” Although this all sounds very reassuring, the weight of the responsibilities of raising little human beings can be quite daunting, if not crushing, at times.  In one of my favorite movies, Mom’s Night Out, Trace Adkins’ character delivers a moving speech to a mom who worries she isn’t enough. “It’s beautiful to watch one of God’s creations just doing what it was made to do. Ya’ll (moms) spend so much time beating yourselves up. I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mom He did.”

“Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. ‘I think I can—I think I can—I think I can—I think I can—I think I can…I think I can.’ Up, up, up. Faster and faster and faster and faster the little engine climbed, until at last they reached the top of the mountain.” (The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper).


Take the time to smell the roses. 

When faced with looming deadlines, never-ending to-do lists and bombarded with media and images of hate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is important to take time for yourself to refuel and re-energize. Take time to do things that help restore you: pray, exercise, bake, write, etc.

“So they had to take Ferdinand home. And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.  He is very happy.” (The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf).


Take time to enjoy just being together.

To date, no one has successfully found a rewind or pause button for life. Ever since I was a newbie mom, family members, friends, and strangers alike would caution me to treasure every moment with my little ones, because time flies by in the blink of an eye. And they were right.  It is important to take time from our busy lives just to be together.

“But what I like doing best is Nothing,” said Christopher Robin.

‘How do you do Nothing?’ asked Pooh, after he has wondered for a long time.

‘Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it.’” (The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne).


Take care of yourself; get enough sleep; and remember, tomorrow is a new day.

In spite of all your hard work and dedication, some days are just really bad days. Our efforts, love, and determination make us who we are; we are not the sum of our successes and failures. After all, we often learn more from our failures than we ever could from our successes.  Tomorrow is another day full of new opportunities and possibilities.

“It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that.” (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst).


Model empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. 

One resounding fact about motherhood is that little eyes are always watching. Our children learn behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs from watching us. In today’s world, it is even more important to extend these works of mercy and model these behaviors to our children.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” (Aesop’s Fables, Aesop).


Love with all your heart every day.

Smile. Tell the people you love that you love them. At the end of the day, even if it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, if children know they are loved, everything else seems surmountable.

“Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night. Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, ‘I love you right up to the moon – and back.’” (Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney).

Theresa Dardanell

The 2016-2017 Sportsmanship Award was presented to Catoctin High School (CHS) by the Central Maryland Conference (CMC). Athletic directors and principals from all ten schools in the CMC review the conduct of coaches, student-athletes, parents, spectators, and fans during the school year and then vote for the school that has demonstrated model sportsmanship.

Catoctin High School Athletic Director Kevin McMullen believes that the philosophy of the athletic program at CHS is the reason for the recognition.  Student-athletes, along with parents and fans, are encouraged to serve as role models when representing CHS during all sporting events, as well as in the classroom and at any community event. Students and their parents are first introduced to this philosophy during the “Meet the Coaches” program and then reminded of these goals after the teams are chosen. The athletic program and the character education program at CHS are interrelated; athletics is part of the educational process and good behavior is encouraged at all times.

Students at CHS participate in cross country, field hockey, football, golf, soccer, volleyball, basketball, indoor track, swimming and diving, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field.  McMullen said that at the varsity level, none of the CHS athletes or coaches were ejected from any competition during the entire school year. He is very proud of the way the coaches and students conduct themselves.

Pictured from left are Catoctin High School Athletic Director Kevin McMullen, FCPS Supervisor of Athletics and Extracurricular Activities Kevin Kendro, and Catoctin High School Principal Bernard Quesada.


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: Emmitsburg Elementary, Lewistown Elementary and 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 22, 2017, from 9:00 a.m.-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 (Staples or Walmart) to the church on August 16, from 9:00 a.m.-noon.

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

Catoctin High School has earned a 2016-17 School of the Year Award from the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University (MCCE). Principal Bernard Quesada commends school counselor Dana Brashear for outstanding work leading to this recognition, which will include a School of the Year banner for Catoctin to display, a certificate of recognition, and attendance at an October 5 awards program at the university’s Rockland Center, Owings Mills campus.

“Schools of character prove that when school communities come together for a common purpose, amazing things happen,” said Principal Quesada. “Our commitment to operating as a school of character works to safeguard our kids and our community.”

State-level School of the Year winners have reached a standard of excellence to serve as models and mentors for other schools and educators. MCCE Executive Coordinator Linda Muska wrote that “Achieving state-level recognition is difficult because the reviewers have high standards and are very thorough.”

“In schools of character, adults embrace their critical role as models. Teachers work together as professionals—and with parents and community members as partners—to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day,” according to the Character Education Partnership (CEP) website,

When these principles are in place, according to the CEP site, bullying is rare; cheating and discipline problems decline; test scores, grades, and homework completion go up; teacher retention and satisfaction are high; and parent satisfaction and engagement rates, as well as student engagement and involvement, are high.

This is the fifth consecutive year Catoctin High School has earned MCCE School of the Year recognition.