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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.

by Anita DiGregory

“A Tribute to Dads”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 72 million fathers across the country. This month, as we prepare to celebrate dads, their importance in society, communities, and families is palpable and unmistakable.

Recent research points to the importance of an engaged father in the development of his children.  According to Pennsylvania State University Sociologist Paul Amato, continued research points to “the father effect,” a term depicting the many positive effects that children with engaged fathers experience.  He adds, “Fathers and mothers are children’s most important teachers. Fathers might ask themselves, what are my children learning about life in general, about morality, about how family members should treat one another, about relationships from observing me every day?”

This sentiment seems to be shared by many. Former President George W. Bush, who himself is a father of two, stated, “By providing their sons and daughters with a positive example, fathers help give their children the necessary foundation they need to make wise decisions throughout their lives.”

Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there working tirelessly and heroically for their families.  Although you may not own a red cape, you rise each day and fight the good fight. And, even though your days may be filled with traffic, board meetings, hard labor, dirty diapers, minimal sleep, and even teenage eye-rolling and attitudes, your dedication and commitment is making a positive difference…a difference you may not see now, but a life-altering difference. Thank you!  As a tribute, here are some words of wisdom from some famous TV dads.


Words of Wisdom from TV Dads

Philip Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)…“Before you criticize somebody, you find out what he’s all about.”

Ray Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond)…“Look, you want to know what marriage is really like? Fine. You wake up—she’s there. You come back from work—she’s there. You fall asleep—she’s there. You eat dinner—she’s there. You know? I mean, I know that sounds like a bad thing. But, it’s not. Not if it’s the right person.”

Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch)…“It may be the hip thing to call parents by their first names, but around here, we’re still Mom and Dad.” “Fighting isn’t the answer to anything. If it were, the biggest and the strongest would always be right. That doesn’t make any sense does it? Reasoning. Calm, cool reasoning. That’s a lot better than violence. And it’s the only sensible way to settle differences.” “Never open the front door without asking who it is.” “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

Ward Cleaver (Leave It to Beaver)…“You are never too old to do goofy stuff.” “A thing is either right or it’s wrong. And if it is wrong in the first place…then it is still wrong no matter how many people do it.” “There’s nothing old-fashioned about politeness.”

Dan Connor (Roseanne)…“Someday, my precious angel, you will be a parent and you will realize that every day is Kid’s Day.”

Howard Cunningham (Happy Days)…“Richard, there is one thing that women like men to do. It’s what they call “a romantic gesture.” We men call it “eating crow.” ”Well, what can I say? Both of our children are married now, and they’re starting out to build lives of their own. And I guess when you reach a milestone like this you have to have to reflect back on, on what you’ve done and, and what you’ve accomplished. Marion and I have not climbed Mount Everest or written a great American novel. But we’ve had the joy of raising two wonderful kids, and watching them and their friends grow up into loving adults. And now, we’re gonna have the pleasure of watching them pass that love on to their children. And I guess no man or woman could ask for anything more.”

Charles Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)…“Everybody wants to know that they are loved, or needed, or cared about.”

Jack Pearson (This Is Us)…“Sometimes they’ll make good decisions. Sometimes bad decisions. And every once in a while, they’re gonna do something that’s gonna knock us off our feet. Something that exceeds even our wildest dreams.” “The kids are gonna be fine. We’ve shown them a healthy marriage…We’re their parents, Bec, but at the end of the day, what happens to them, how they turn out, it’s bigger than us.”

Danny Tanner (Full House)…“Just remember, when children seem the least lovable, it means they need love the most.”

Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)…“You do the best you can and that’s all I’ll ever ask of you.” “It don’t take courage to be a winner. It DOES take courage to be a good loser. Now, you wanna be a good loser, you’ll be proud of your friends that DID win and you’ll congratulate ‘em for it.”

Tim Taylor (Home Improvement)…“We are enlightened men, and enlightened men share in the household responsibilities, right?” “(On helping with math homework)…why don’t they just call it the bottom number? The denominator… that sounds like a Schwarzenegger movie doesn’t it?”

Carl Winslow (Family Matters)…“When you make a mistake, you fess up to it. Trying to cover it up would only make it worse.”

On Monday, March 19, 2018, Thurmont Lions, principals, teachers, family, and friends gathered at the Thurmont Regional Library for the annual Teacher of the Year reception. The Teacher of the Year reception is held to honor all nominees from all eight schools. We had nominations from: Catoctin High School (one nomination)—Teacher of the Year: Angelique Merkson; Thurmont Middle School (three nominations)—Teacher of the Year: Lisa Vaeth; Mother Seton School (one nomination)—Teacher of the Year: Sheila Dorsey; Sabillasville Elementary School (two nominations)—Teacher of the Year: Pam Ellenberg; Lewistown Elementary School (two nominations)—Teacher of the Year: Heather Burgess; Emmitsburg Elementary School (six nominations)— Teacher of the Year: Melissa Kearchner; Thurmont Elementary School (one nomination)—Teacher of the Year: Jennifer Young; Thurmont Primary School (two nominations)—Teacher of the Year: Kristianne Dove.

On Education Night in May, we will honor the eight Teachers of the year and name the Thurmont Lions Club Teacher of the Year. We will also be honoring Bonnie Hopkins, a long-time Emmitsburg teacher, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

A special thank you to Stephanie Steinly, Nancy Echard, and Joyce Anthony, who assisted with the judging and the program; to Paul Cannada and Wendy Candela, who were the official event photographers; and to Dianne McLean, cheerleader extraordinaire.


Pictured from left are: (front row) Kristianna Dove, Lisa Vaeth, Heather Burgess; (back row) Angelique Merkson, Jennifer Young, Pam Ellenberg, Melissa Kearchner, and Sheila Dorsey.

Theresa Dardanell

Sabillasville Elementary School (SES) students created boats to help the gingerbread man cross the river without being eaten by the fox, and assembled parachutes to help Jack float down from the beanstalk and escape from the giant. It was all part of an activity that combined literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) on March 29, 2018.

Jeanne Read and Shelba Bollinger from the Thurmont Regional Library read the fairy tales to the children and then encouraged them to create the boats and parachutes, using a variety of everyday objects. The students could choose items like foam boards, straws, corks, and construction paper for the boats, along with plastic bags, tissue paper, coffee filters, and string for the parachutes.

Second grade student Sophie Wagaman was one of the first to get her boat to float across the river (a tub of water). In another classroom, a tall construction paper beanstalk was the scene of the parachute trials. A toy “Jack” was attached to each parachute. Parents were on hand to reach up high and release the parachutes while the students watched Jack float down safely.

Many of the SES staff members were on hand to serve pizza before the activities began. They were also available in the media center and the computer lab to help with the other literacy activities. In the computer lab, parents had the opportunity to use some of the online literacy resources with their children.  After completing an activity in the media center, every student had the opportunity to choose a book to keep. The books were donated by a very generous community member.

Joey and ILO Blentlinger and Robbie Koontz create parachutes to help “Jack” escape from the giant.

Elizabeth Swindells

On Friday, April 6, 2018, Emmitsburg Elementary School held their first-ever Race For Technology. The event was held in an attempt to provide funds for technology and other resources in the classroom, as well as PTA-sponsored activities, such as field trips and family involvement activities.

In the preceding weeks, students took home letters, asking for sponsorship and donations from friends and families. The students and faculty fundraised laboriously and exceeded their $7,000 goal by $2,000, for a grand total of $9,000 in funds raised! The money raised will be used by the PTA to purchase Google Chromebooks, laptops, and Apple iPads for student use.

Principal Mary Ann Wiles promised to arrive the morning of the event in a special way if the event met it’s goal, and on the morning of April 6, the entire school watched as she arrived on a ladder truck (shown left)!

It was a beautiful day for the event. All students from pre-K through fifth grade were in attendance.

There was a DJ to keep everyone pumped up, and an ice cream truck to keep everyone cooled down. This event has been a goal of the PTA for about two years, and they did an excellent job executing it. The event was hugely successful, and a great time was had by all.