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Food 4 Kids will continue at Elias Lutheran Church through the fall. This is the original “backpack” program in the Emmitsburg Elementary School and  Head Start.

If your child or grandchild would like to receive a weekend bag of food (two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks, and two drinks), come to Elias Lutheran Church, located at 100 W. North Avenue in Emmitsburg, on the scheduled dates and get a free bag of food for your children (up to age 18): September 3 and 17; October 1, 5, and 29; November 5 and 29; December 3, 17, and 31.

James Rada Jr.

Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Theresa Alban made a conditional recommendation to the Board of Education to conditionally grant the Sabillasville Environmental School charter. If approved, it is expected that Sabillasville Elementary would become a K-8 charter school with a focus on environmental science.

“It’s a beautiful location,” Alban noted. It is also well suited to be a school with a focus on agriculture.

Alban presented her recommendation to the board on August 18 during the board’s regular monthly meeting. The board will make a final decision on September 8.

Alban told the board, “The reservations with this application mostly relate to the fiscal constraints.” The phrase “tight budget” was used repeatedly by Alban, board members, and Board Chief Financial Officer Leslie Pelligrino.

Board Member Brad Young said, “Frederick County is an extremely supportive county of our agricultural community, and I have no doubt many will step up and want to help fund it, even if it will be an initial endowment that’s put there.”

The citizen’s committee that put together the charter is also planning on applying for grants and run a fundraising campaign to help create more of a cushion in the finances.

The three-year charter plan calls for additional grades to be phased in, beginning with the 2022-2023 school year: adding sixth grade in year one, seventh grade in year two, and eighth grade in year three. The student:teacher ratio would be 23:1. This means that the enrollment the first year needs to be 161 students to make the proposed budget work. While Alban noted that 161 is a low number for a charter school to be viable, it is more than double the current enrollment, even accounting for the addition of a sixth grade.

Because of this, Alban made her recommendation conditional on having some sort of verification that the new school could reach its enrollment goal by December 1 of this year. The verification would most likely be letters of intent from the families who wish to send their children to an environmental school. Alban noted that while this seems a short deadline, staffing decisions have to be made in December to be sent to principals in January.

“We are excited about the conditional recommendation, and we hope that we can work together to resolve both parties’ concerns in order to create a unique educational opportunity for students across the county,” Alisha Yocum, president of Sabillasville Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization, told the board.

Families in Sabillasville have been fighting for years to keep the school open as enrollment has continued to fall. However, the charter group believes that if they create something different from other schools in the county that addresses a need from the largest industry in the county, the students will want to attend.

If the charter is approved, it will also be conditional on finding an appropriate location for the new school. While the goal is to have the Sabillasville Environmental School in the current Sabillasville Elementary, the board will have to not only vote to close the school but work out a lease agreement with the new school.

In an effort to encourage community support for this final vote, Yocum posted on Facebook, “I know it has been a long fight, but we are almost there! Please come out to the BOE Meeting for a final decision on our charter school efforts. We need to fill the board room!!”

During the 39-year history of the John A. Cliber Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by the Northwestern Frederick Country Civic Association of Sabillasville, 56 awards have been awarded to Catoctin High School graduating students from the Sabillasville Elementary-feeder school.

Two 2021 graduates have each received a $1,000 award for their continuing education. Both recipients, Rachel Pastor and Zander Sharpe, are enrolled for the fall semester at Frederick Community College, pursuing their goals of obtaining degrees in business.

Within a few weeks, founding group members of the Sabillasville Environmental School—A Classical Charter, will know if their hard work has paid off. Over the past year, the group wrote a charter school application as a solution for keeping a school in Sabillasville.

If approved, the public charter would operate out of the current Sabillasville Elementary School building. As a public charter, the school would be free and open to all students in K-8 who live in Frederick County.

The group is proposing a school that will teach a classical curriculum, with a focus on environmental science, which will include several hands-on learning projects, such as a green house and garden space and market days where students will apply math and business skills to sell their produce. If approved, the charter would start operation in August 2022.

On August 18, the superintendent of Frederick County will make her recommendation to the Board of Education as to whether or not they should approve the charter application. On September 10, the Board of Education will conduct a final vote on approval of the charter school application.

Founding group members are encouraging community members to email their letters of support for the school to the Board of Education prior to their final vote on September 10. Emails may be sent to For more information about the Sabillasville Environmental School, visit their Facebook page.

Volunteers with the Thurmont Alumni Association hosted the Thurmont High School (THS) Alumni Annual Banquet at the Thurmont Event Complex on June 12, 2021. Alumni president, Howard Lewis (Class of ‘60), welcomed the crowd of about 200, and Ron Free (Class of ‘64) served as Master of Ceremonies.

Carol Long (Class of ‘72), Nancy Rice (Class of ‘62), and Bob Fahnestock (Class of ‘76) sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” and Larry Eby (Class of ‘62) gave the invocation.

Fond alumni memories were shared with a big screen video developed by Maxine Troxell (Class of ‘62), with photos from the good old days in school. In addition to the social aspect of the banquet, some association business was conducted with the reading of the organization’s last meeting minutes by Secretary Viola Noffsinger (Class of ‘58), as well as the Treasurer’s Report and Scholarship Fund Report by Treasurer Becky Linton (Class of ‘58).

Anniversary classes honored at this banquet were graduating classes: 1940, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1950, 1951, 1960, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971. Those in graduating years ending in 0 or 5 would have been honored last year, but the banquet was canceled due to COVID-19.

Prizes were given for the oldest attendee, Edward Coleman (Class of ‘42), and the person who traveled the farthest, Ernest Snyder (Class of ‘53).

Carol Long, Lela Weaver, and Lottie Trigg distributed door prizes and hosted the fundraising auction.

The alumni’s slate of officers of 2022 was approved, with Howard Lewis servicing as president, Viola Noffsinger as secretary, and Becky Linton as treasurer.

It was an honor to extend support to the alumni’s scholarship recipients: Kelby Benjamin (Walkersville HS), Emily Marie Dewees (Catoctin HS), Addison Elizabeth Eyler (Catoctin HS), Ava Maze (Catoctin HS), Shelby Madeline Ott (Walkersville HS), Nathan Sanders (Catoctin HS), Austin Lewis Smith (Catoctin HS), Lily Elizabeth Smith (Catoctin HS), and Grace Stambaugh (Walkersville HS).

The banquet was closed by President Howard Lewis, announcing next year’s banquet date as Saturday, June 11, 2022, with anniversary graduating years ending in 2 and 7.

Special thanks to all of the businesses and individuals who donated for the event.

Photos by Lottie Trigg

A nice crowd of alumni gather to celebrate and socialize.

Scholarship recipients from left: ( top row) Grace Stambaugh, Shelby Ott, Emily Marie Dewees, Addison Eyler; (front row) Ava Maze and Austin Smith.

Beginning Wednesday, June 30, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) Food and Nutrition Services started distributing “to-go” breakfast and lunch to anyone in the community, 18 years old or younger. Those over 18 who are enrolled in an educational program for people with disabilities can also be served.

FCPS will distribute enough to-go breakfast and lunch meals for seven days every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the following 11 schools: Ballenger Creek Elementary, Brunswick Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Middletown High, Spring Ridge Elementary, Sugarloaf Elementary, Thurmont Middle, Walkersville Elementary, Waverley Elementary, and Whittier Elementary.

An adult, such as a parent or guardian, may pick up meals for a child. Children do not have to be present. The last day of summer meals service to the community will be Wednesday, August 11.

Starting June 28, FCPS will also serve breakfast and lunch to students enrolled in summer-school programs while they are at school. To-go breakfast and lunch for Friday through Sunday will also be offered to these students before they leave for the day every Thursday during the summer-school program. 

Information about FCPS facilities offering food to students learning virtually during the 2021-2022 school year will be available at a later date. If you have questions, contact FCPS Food and Nutrition Services at 301-644-5061.

Catoctin High School/Saint Joseph’s High School, Class of 1981, 40th reunion will be held on Saturday, August 7, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Save the date; more details to follow. For more information, contact Jerry Free at 301-418-5351 or Mark Williard at 214-263-6613.

Over 150 students graduated on the football field of Catoctin High School (CHS) on June 3, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. The rain held off and the clouds lightened up to reveal the school’s beautiful backdrop just as the ceremony was about to begin.

After beginning the year in a full-virtual mode, the students were welcomed back into the school for hybrid learning in March. The confirmation of a live in-person graduation with guests wasn’t announced until May due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each student was allowed to bring four guests to the graduation ceremony.

The graduation ceremony was also live-streamed to the public and to-date has over 2,300 views. You can watch the ceremony by visiting

Seniors lined up in the school and walked down the hill to the field as “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the Catoctin High School Band, under the direction of Evan Felmet. The National Anthem was sung by senior Michael Willard following the presentation of colors by the Thurmont Honor Guard of AMVETS Post 7. Guest speakers for the ceremony were Frederick County Board of Education Board Member Liz Barrett and FCPS Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban.

Each year, the senior class awards a staff member of CHS the Cougar Paw Award for the impact he/she has made over the students’ four years of high school. This year’s recipient was Evan Felmet, who teaches band, chorus, guitar, drama, and leads the school’s marching band, dramas, and musicals.  The award was presented to Felmet by senior class secretary, Joshua Maze.

Principal Jennifer Clements offered final remarks recognizing the class of 2021 for overcoming the challenges they have seen as students during a pandemic and wished them success for the future.

Excited seniors line up and walk down the hill to the field for their high school graduation ceremony on June 3, 2021.

Over 150 seniors graduate on the football field of Catoctin High School.

The CHS graduation ceremony was live-streamed to the public. Watch the ceremony by visiting

Recipients Selected in Eight Categories

Eight Frederick County Public Schools support employees have been recognized in the 2021 Support Employees of the Year Award program.

They are: School-based Custodian of the Year Michael Bowles, Linganore High; Central Office Business Support Employee of the Year Jeremy Eccard, Public Affairs; School-based Food Service Employee of the Year Barbara Hoy, Rock Creek School; Central Office Secretary of the Year Orissa Linker, Central Office Reception; School-based Special Education Instructional Assistant of the Year Crystal McKenzie, Thurmont Middle; Central Office Maintenance Employee of the Year Aaron Shorb, Maintenance & Operations; Bus Driver of the Year Carolyn Shultz, Oakdale feeder; and School-based Secretary of the Year Lori Zentz, Catoctin High.

From this list of eight, one school-based and one central office Support Employee of the Year will be announced at the June 9 Board of Education meeting when the entire group is honored. The two overall winners will each receive a cash award, a personal day off, a special trophy, and a Board of Education pin. All category winners will receive trophies and certificates.

Thurmont Middle School’s Rebecca Krauss (pictured right) was one of three school counselors recognized by Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) for the Frederick County School Counselor Association’s 2021 School Counselors of the Year.

School counselors have played pivotal roles helping students, parents, teachers, and community agencies navigate the global health crisis and help address physical, emotional, and social needs. There were 270 nominations for School Counselor of the Year.

Rebecca Krauss has been a school counselor with FCPS for 19 years. She, along with her counseling team at Thurmont Middle School, created a peer ambassador program with the goal of empowering students to become leaders and make positive connections with their peers. Two of the programs that she spearheaded were “Start with Hello Week” and “Kindness Challenge Week,” in which the peer ambassadors also helped to facilitate. She uses her training in Restorative Practices and Zones of Regulation in her work with students. Krauss has been a member of her School Improvement Team and Positive Behavior Team. She has also helped lead several small groups within her school with various partnerships, including Advanced Behavioral Health, Girl Scouts, and the Frederick County Health Department.Courtesy Photo

The Catoctin High School Class of 2021 nears graduation on June 3, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. at Catoctin High School. Please keep them in mind for donations through the Safe and Sane 2021 parent group and by participating in event meetings and events.

Safe and Sane has meetings on May 5 and May 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the pavilion at Thurmont United Methodist Church on Long Road in Thurmont.

A Sportsman’s Bingo will be held on May 1 at the Vigilant Hose Company’s Activities Building. Doors open at 4:00 p.m., dinner is at 5:00 p.m., and bingo begins at 6:30 p.m.

To make a financial donation to the class, please mail to Catoctin High School, Attn: Safe and Sane 2021, 14745 Sabillasville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at the Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Strafford Drive in Thurmont.

Due to COVID-19, masks will be required inside the complex. Social hour will begin at 5:00 p.m., with the meal served promptly at 6:00 p.m. The anniversary classes this year are those that end in 0 and 5 and 6 and 1, since we did not have a dinner last year. Several basket raffles and a 50/25/25 raffle will take place. Special scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors, related to Thurmont High School Alumni.

The cost for the evening is $23.00 per person, which should be mailed to Viola Noffsinger, 131 Cody Drive #33, Thurmont, MD 21788 (before May 26). All alumnus of Thurmont High School and Catoctin High School classes (1969-1974), and friends, are encouraged to attend.

Visit the alumni Facebook page: Thurmont High School Alumni Association. Questions, special reports, or other information may be sent to or call 301-418-1760.

The Class of 2021 is nearing graduation. It is imperative that our communities embrace these students’ safe graduation celebrations by donating to the Catoctin High School Safe and Sane Committee.

Fundraising activities include raffles, restaurant nights, yard signs, cash donations, and the Vinny Healy Memorial Christian Outreach Fund Golf Tournament on April 17, 2021, starting at 8:00 a.m. Team sponsorship and registration information is available on Facebook. To register, make check payable to Vinny Healy MCOF and mail to Vince Healy, 6934 Elyers Valley Flint Road, Sabillasville, MD 21780. Call Vince Healy at 240-457-7850 for more information.

To send monetary donations, please mail to Catoctin High School, Attn: Safe and Sane 2021, 14745 Sabillasville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788.

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded scholarships worth over $100,000 to area students. Scholarships are available to all graduating high-school-level seniors from a Maryland State accredited public, private, and/or homeschool program who reside within the Catoctin High School district boundaries as per the Frederick County Public School district map.

The “Mary and Robert Remsberg Memorial Scholarship” is worth up to $5,000 (scholarship funds would be distributed at $1,000 per year, for up to four years of continued education with passing grades from an accredited college or university.)

The “Bernhard Cohen Memorial Scholarship” is worth $2,500.

Applications will be judged upon the following criteria in order of importance: (1) Participation and leadership roles in community and/or school activities; (2) Content of a personal resume; (3)             Academic record and/or special achievements; (4) Need for financial assistance; (5) Evaluation by school official and/or mentor; (6) Organization, appearance, and completeness of the application.

Scholarship application forms can be downloaded from the Acacia Lodge website:

Interested students must complete an application and return it via U.S. Mail to the following address: Acacia Lodge #155 –“Scholarships,” 56 Water Street, Thurmont, MD 21788. All applications must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2021.

The Emmitsburg High School Association is accepting scholarship applications. Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded in May to deserving students. Any Catoctin High School senior or graduate who is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, including trade schools, is eligible if he/she resides in the Emmitsburg School District. This includes Emmitsburg 21727, Rocky Ridge 21778, and Taneytown 21787 (Taneytown boundary is determined by Bridgeport on Route 140). Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution.

Selection is based on academics, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, their community and school activities, and pursuing higher education (technical school, four-year college, or community college).

Applications may be obtained by calling Phyllis Kelly at 717-642-6963 or by email at All applications must be received by May 14, 2021. Applications are also available through the Catoctin High School Scholarship line and Counseling Department. 

It is time to recognize that special teacher who has made an impact on your child’s life and on your school community. Each year, the Thurmont Lions Club honors the teachers of the Catoctin High School and the feeder schools (Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle, Lewistown Elementary, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, and Mother Seton). Anyone can nominate a teacher—parents, students, fellow teachers, and administrators. 

All nomination forms are due to Lion Gayle DiSalvo no later than Sunday, April 18, 2021. They can be emailed to or mailed to Lion Gayle DiSalvo, 142 E. Hammaker Street, Thurmont, MD  21788. Please include “2021 Teacher of the Year” on the subject line if emailing. Forms are available online at or by contacting Lion Gayle DiSalvo at

The Thurmont Lions Club 2021 Teacher of the Year will be selected from the eight finalists by a committee of community leaders and will be announced at the Thurmont Lions Club’s Education Night meeting on May 12, 2021. If you have any questions, please contact Lion Gayle DiSalvo at or 301-271-5355.

The Trade, Technical, Vocational Scholarship is offered through the Peg and Orley Bourland Educational Assistance Fund to help defray the year-round costs associated with tuition, fees, testing, tutoring, trade tools, supplies, etc. for students in trade, vocational, or technical fields in the Walkersville feeder school pattern area. Awards will not exceed $1,000 per year, and applications are due a minimum of 30 days prior to when funds are needed.

Pick up an application at the Walkersville High School, CTC, Walkersville Public Library, Walkersville Town Hall, online at, or call 301-845-0213.

Masonic Charities of Maryland (MCM) awards $50,000 in scholarship funds annually to Maryland public high school graduating seniors who are pursuing a post-secondary education. One hundred finalists from public schools across the entire state will be selected. Each finalist will receive a $500 scholarship.

In conjunction with MCM, Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont will match this amount if an awardee is selected from the graduating class of Catoctin High School in Thurmont.

If selected, the total amount of the award will be $1,000! Closing date for all applications is March 31, 2021.

Applications will be judged upon the following criteria, in order of importance: (1) Participation and leadership roles in community and/or school activities; (2) Content of a personal resume; (3) Academic record and/or special achievements; (4) Need for financial assistance; (5) Evaluation by school official and/or mentor; (6) Organization, appearance, and completeness of the application.

MCM Scholarship application forms can be downloaded from the Acacia Lodge website at

Interested students must complete an application and return it via U.S. Mail to the following address: Acacia Lodge #155 –“Scholarships,” 56 Water Street, Thurmont, MD 21788.

All applications must be postmarked on or before March 31, 2021.

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, it has left many establishments and businesses closed down, including schools. Following the closings of schools, students and teachers began using an alternative to in-person classes in the form of virtual school. This has been a hard transition for many, as they were no longer able to meet in person and receive that one-on-one instruction. What was supposed to be only a few weeks of missing school to flatten a COVID curve, has turned into a long-term struggle for nearly a year. Students and teachers alike have been affected, and it leaves the decision of returning back to school questionable in many ways.

Students have their own opinion of online school, whether it be good or bad. As an eighth-grade student at Thurmont Middle School, I understand some of the challenges. One of the main issues that students face—myself included—is the ability to understand material in their classes. In school, learners could receive one-on-one help and get visual examples. Assignments are easier to comprehend when shown in-person rather than over a screen. Another issue that poses a challenge to students learning at home is distractions. As a student with ADHD, I sometimes have a hard time paying attention, and now that I’m home, I have many more distractions than I had at school. This is hard during online classes because my attention can quickly switch from my work over to something else, to the point I stop paying attention and I lose track of what I was doing.

In addition to the academic challenges, the loss of social interaction is also a concern.

The absence of social time greatly affects students. School provides social interaction with people rather than just a computer screen. Eighth-grader Olivia Johnson feels strongly against virtual schooling. “It’s the worst, and I hate it,” she said. “I would rather be in school to socialize, and it’s a lot easier to get help when you’re in school.” Liv continued to say, “It’s also a lot harder to focus because there are so many distractions.”

Liv’s days with virtual learning are challenging to say the least. “Every day, I have my main classes: E.L.A, science, history, and math. The days transition between A or B. On A days, I have one of my selected gym classes and tech. On B days, I have one of my extra classes and an extra help class for my last period,” she said. She explained that it switches every day, which makes it more difficult to follow her schedule. While this is just viewed through my perspective and Liv’s perspective, everyone feels differently about it, but the difficulties are apparent.

The in-school break has been tough for teachers, too.

For Michael Brown, a technology education teacher at Thurmont Middle School, virtual teaching is all new, and it hasn’t been easy. “One of the issues that I and other teachers have has been the plan on how to deliver instruction effectively,” Mr. Brown said. “Teachers also had to look at how to provide coherent instruction that was easily navigated and understood by all.” Mr. Brown continued, “The teachers had to think about how they would collaborate and plan together, especially for those who teach the same courses.”

These were just a few concerns that Mr. Brown and other teachers had as they began the journey into virtual instruction. As time goes on, the idea of returning back to school continues to be discussed, laying the foundation for new plans to be made for a safe return.

Mr. Brown also spoke of some of the aspects of returning to school. He talked about the safety measures and rules that students and teachers would need to follow in order to keep everyone safe and schools open, when the time comes.

Life Skills teacher Vanessa Yost added to our discussion. “We must make sure students, both online and in-person, have their individual needs met,” she said. Mr. Brown added on to that, “Things are changing quickly, and it’s adding more instructional complexity.” They both agreed that the transitions will be challenging. “However, we have great faith in our FCPS students to transition smoothly and continue to make excellent growth.”

Teachers have not been blind to their students’ struggles. Mr. Brown and Miss Yost agreed that virtual learning has been tough, with isolation, focus challenges, and time management pressures. They also noted that building relationships between students has been challenging.

Students will be meeting one another for the first time in many cases and will have to get to know one another on a more personal level, not behind a screen.

Since the start of virtual school, students and teachers have faced many transitions and have risen to these challenges with positivity. Although the road ahead in returning to school will have its bumps along the way, we will continue moving forward. As you can see, the issues students and teachers have faced are complex, but we are all learning and we will continue to get better each and every day. As this uncertain time progresses, teachers and students will still face challenges, and they will meet them head-on to the best of their abilities.

Community Still Hopes for Charter School

James Rada Jr.

The Frederick County Board of Education voted to close Sabillasville Elementary School at the end of the 2020-21 school year. The vote was 5-1, with member Rae Gallagher the only opposing vote.

However, the Sabillasville community holds onto hope that the board will approve a charter school for the building. A group of Sabillasville citizens has submitted a concept proposal to Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) for review and planned on submitting a full application by the end of December.

The proposed charter school would be called the Sabillasville Environmental School. It would be a Kindergarten through eighth-grade school, with roughly 23 students per grade. It would begin as a Kindergarten through sixth-grade school and add grades seven and eight in years two and three.

“We want to offer a classical curriculum similar to what the Frederick Classical Charter School offers, with a focus on the environment,” said Alisha Yocum, president of the Sabillasville Elementary Parent Teacher Association. “Given where we are located, we want to reconnect students with nature and agriculture.”

The curriculum, as Yocum explains it, would be based around history, and all the classes will gear their lessons to what history is being taught at the time. The school would also teach the Singapore Math program.

Yocum said that parents of current students in Sabillasville Elementary are overwhelmingly supportive of the idea.

“We want the building to remain a school and serve the community,” Yocum said. “It’s the heart of our community.”

The citizens group has been working hard to pull everything together that is needed to get approval for the school and get it up and running without having an interruption in the students’ education between this year and the next.

The board of education vote hampers that. The Sabillasville parents had wanted the board to show their support by following a part of the state law that allows a public school to be converted to a charter school. This would have simplified the charter process and guaranteed current Sabillasville students a seat in the new charter school.

Superintendent Theresa Alban said she had contacted the Baltimore City school system where schools had been converted, and her belief was that it wouldn’t work for Sabillasville. She said for a charter school to be accepted in Sabillasville, the proposal would have to show that space was available in the town, and the only way to do that was to close the school. However, this also means that the Maryland State Department of Education will have to grant a waiver for current Sabillasville students to be given priority in a new charter.

The group has retained a lawyer to appeal the board’s decision and have a conversion charter school considered. You can donate to the group’s legal fund by mailing a check to: Sabillasville Elementary PTO, 16210B Sabillasville Rd., Sabillasville, MD 21780. You can also donate on the group’s GoFundMe page posted on its Facebook page.

The 56-year-old school has been in the crosshairs for closure for years. Board member Brad Young said it was one of the first topics discussed when he was elected in 2010.

The most-recent discussions about closing the school started in early 2020 when enrollment numbers showed the school had only 70 students. The board’s projections show that shrinking will continue, and in ten years, the school would have only 53 students. This affects how many teachers can be assigned to the school, which has led to some combining of grade levels. The cost of maintaining the aging facility was also cited as a concern. According to the FCPS, it has the third-highest maintenance costs of any school in the system.

Strong community support during that time caused the board to delay its decision as other alternatives were investigated.

The board was supposed to hear an update on the application at its November meeting. However, Alban decided this would create a conflict of interest since the board would also have to make the decision on whether to approve the charter.

“In no way do we wish to deter their efforts, and we would certainly welcome any movement that they want to make towards possibly submitting an application for a charter school,” Alban said.

She did review the results of a survey of Yellow Springs Elementary parents about whether they would support sending their children to Sabillasville Elementary if it was an open-enrollment school. Yellow Springs’ parents were the only ones surveyed because Yellow Springs Elementary is the only overcapacity school within a reasonable distance of Sabillasville. While other nearby schools are overcapacity, their problem will be alleviated when Blue Heron Elementary opens.

Of the 143 parents surveyed, 83 percent said they wouldn’t send their children to Sabillasville. Most parents had transportation concerns, particularly the length of time their children would have to ride the bus to and from school.

During the meeting, it was pointed out that the board hadn’t received any public comment about closing the school. This is because parents had been told there wouldn’t be a vote.

“We were not informed they would be making a final vote on November 23,” Yocum said. “I think the community should have been informed. We would have been there.”

Thurmont Commissioner Marty Burns agrees. During a recent Thurmont town meeting, he said the reason the parents were told there wouldn’t be a vote was because the board knew the Sabillasville community would show up in opposition.

“They didn’t want the opposition,” he said. “They took a quick vote outside the public eye. I bet if it was Urbana, [the board] wouldn’t have even thought about doing that.”

He and some of the other commissioners called it a rushed decision since the new board of education members were sworn in just two weeks later.

Thurmont Commissioner Bill Buehrer said during a town meeting that he wasn’t surprised at the decision and that it was based on politics, not education.

“I feel sorry for the families in Sabillasville,” he said. “You got hoodwinked. You know it, and the public knows it. Not a damn thing you can do about it because they already voted on it.”

Young said FCPS will need to determine whether it has another use for the building. If not, which is expected to be the case, the property is turned back over to the county. The county would then offer the property for sale or lease. This is the point where the new charter school will have to act to secure the property, and it could find itself competing with another business for the property.

Buehrer said that if the community’s charter school application fails, Sabillasville Elementary students will be “embraced” in Thurmont.

“We’ll do whatever we can to help your kids get a good education,” he said.

Blair Garrett

Amidst COVID restrictions and global pandemonium, Mount St. Mary’s basketball is still underway.

Precautions have been put in place to keep players and personnel safe, but the season has not been without its troubles. Breaks in the schedule due to positive COVID tests have put a hold on games through mid-December, but games are planned to resume activity once all proper tests have been cleared.

The NCAA has testing set in place to thin out instances of the virus spreading, and athletic programs around the country are dealing with quarantines and shutdowns following any positive tests.

The Mount is no different, and due to positive tests, the schedule has been shuffled around for both men’s and women’s teams. Games against Wagner College have been rescheduled from their original December 15-16 start date to January 26 and 27. All games and times are subject to change, and with record numbers across the country in Coronavirus cases, more schedule adjustments are likely to happen. 

The men’s team kicked off the season on a high note, taking down Morgan State in a close game on the road, where the team’s veteran players took over late to close the game out. The Mountaineers’ historic season-opening victory against Morgan State was the team’s first win against them since 1984.

The Mount hit a skid after its season opener, facing perennially tough competitors University of Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth University, dropping games to both.  

Despite several postponed and canceled games, the team will have time to regroup and lay the groundwork for the rest of the season after the winter break.

Jalen Gibbs and Damian Chong-Qui have been scoring leaders for the past three seasons, and both lead the team by a substantial amount heading into the holiday break.  

On the women’s side of the court, the team has faced similar challenges with COVID creeping into the conversation. Games against Coppin State University, Maryland, and La Salle have all been canceled due to athletic programs dealing with COVID issues.

Despite dropping its first two games of the season, the team has had positive results against tough competition. The Mount’s offense has thrived on a balanced attack, with everyone on the roster chipping in offensively.

Because of cancellations, Mount St. Mary’s has played just one game in Knott Arena this season, but the team’s home-court advantage was apparent.

The women comfortably beat the UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) Retrievers in a full-team effort, shoring up their offensive and defensive struggles from previous games.

The Mountaineers have the bulk of their schedule come January, where they take on more of their usual Northeast Conference rivals in multiple series of back-to-back games that will define the team’s season.

The abridged version of the men’s and women’s season follows unanimously approved guidelines by the NEC Council of Presidents to limit travel and potential exposure for student athletes and staff. From January 7, 2021, through the rest of the season, all games will be against in-conference teams.

Men’s and women’s schedules will be mirrored, too, to help limit the amount of travel programs have to do. Games will also be played on back-to-back days at the same site.

The NEC Tournament has been shortened to just finals and semifinals, with the top four teams competing for the NEC Championship. Regular season play resumes January 7, as both Mount St. Mary’s teams take on St. Francis Brooklyn in an away back-to-back matchup.

Thurmont Middle School is now providing free breakfast, lunch, and supper seven days a week. Meals are provided Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the cafeteria of the middle school, located off of Summit Avenue in Thurmont.

All families get a free lunch on those days and an additional pantry bag on Fridays for all children in their homes. These pantry bags have been graciously donated by several local businesses and organizations in the Thurmont community. Free clothing is also available on Fridays. 

During winter break, Thurmont Middle School’s cafeteria will be open, providing free meals on December 28 and 30, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. For any other information, please contact Kelly Pizza, community liaison at Thurmont Middle School, at 240-236-5103 or

Thurmont Middle School will be handing out lunches for Thurmont-feeder families on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., in the cafeteria of the middle school, off Summit Avenue in Thurmont, until December 31, 2020. 

All families get a free lunch on those days and an additional pantry bag on Fridays for all children in their homes. These pantry bags have been graciously donated by several local businesses and organizations.

For any other information please contact Kelly Pizza, Community Liaison at Thurmont Middle School 240-236-5100.

Catoctin High School has a new STEM educational experience for students in Northern Frederick County: FIRST Robotics Competition Team 686, Bovine Intervention. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 to encourage and inspire students to pursue, and excel in, STEM-related careers.

Bovine Intervention comprises high school students from across Frederick County (currently Walkersville and Linganore high schools). It includes mentor support from high school alumni, parents, businesses, and Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) staff. Being new to Catoctin High School and Northern Frederick County, the team now invites students, as well as parents, businesses, and other mentors from these areas, to join their team.

Students will forge new friendships and learn valuable tradecraft skills in engineering, programming, project planning, business management, and decision-making processes, as well as compete against other FIRST teams in formal robotics competitions. The team also has opportunities for expanding leadership skills, video photography, newsletter writing, and communications.

Bovine Intervention primarily relies on community and corporate sponsors for funding to cover costs for materials, competition fees, and other resources. Students, family, and friends also support the team through their time and donations.

Operating within FCPS, Bovine Intervention now welcomes students to participate virtually and begin their STEM educational experience with training in engineering principles, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), and programming skills. The team looks forward to getting back together, in person, during the 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition season, and will also plan additional activities to inspire the youth and increase team awareness in the community.

To join or sponsor the team, or be placed on its email list, please contact them at

To learn more about Bovine Intervention and FIRST, or for information and links to Facebook and Instagram sites, please visit the team website at

Students routing wires on the robot.

James Rada Jr.

It will definitely be a different year for education as schools work to balance education with coronavirus restrictions and parent concerns.

When school starts in Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) for student instruction on August 31, it will be without the usual pomp of parents taking first-day-of-school pictures and seeing children off on school buses. The Frederick County Board of Education decided in July that all students would learn remotely for at least the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Also, all athletics and extracurricular activities are suspended for this semester.

While the spring may have been hectic and confusing for students, the board of education announced it used feedback from students, parents, and teachers to improve virtual learning. According to the board, the enhancements include:

•   Increased live virtual interactions between students and educators.

•   A single, digital platform for students and parents to access instruction, communication, and feedback.

•   Robust professional learning opportunities for educators to increase their skill set for teaching in a virtual environment, which includes on-demand professional learning videos and courses for educators.

•   Student training videos that will enhance their abilities to access and learn in a virtual environment.

•   Strategies to focus on individual student needs.

•   Continued efforts to ensure every child can connect digitally.

According to a press release from the FCPS, students “will engage in a combination of real-time virtual instruction, instruction on an individual schedule, and completion of assigned tasks. In addition to teachers and school counselors, online learning mentors will also support students, offering designated office hours.”

Also, the grading system will return to normal.

Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg is offering students the choice between remote and classroom instruction. Parents decided which way they would like to have their children educated in the middle of August.

This decision was made in consultation with the Archdiocese of Baltimore and in seeking recommendations from public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and our state and local health authorities. The school will reopen for instruction on September 8.

“For parents who prefer in-school instruction, recommended and appropriate safety measures are in place, including the wearing of masks, social distancing measures, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of the school and buses,” according to a release from the school.

Parents are not locked into their choice.

Principal Kathleen Kilty wrote in a letter to parents, “I understand that as the school year progresses, you may want to switch from in-person learning to remote learning, or from remote learning to in-person learning. One switch will be permitted. Additional switches will be discussed and decided on a case-by-case basis. It is important for the students and teachers to have consistency, and it is equally important that students participate in the best possible learning option.”

Both FCPS and Mother Seton School say they will reevaluate conditions as the school year progresses.