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Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) announced the five teachers advancing as finalists for the 2019-2020 FCPS Teacher of the Year Award, the county’s most prestigious award for teachers. Every school in FCPS is asked to nominate at least one outstanding teacher every year to be selected as the county’s Teacher of the Year. This year, after several stages of review that included interviews and submitting essays and other materials, FCPS has narrowed the field to five outstanding finalists.

Local Catoctin High School’s Michael Franklin (pictured left) is one of the five finalists. Franklin teaches physical education and chairs the department at Catoctin High School. He also teaches Fitness for Life though the FCPS Virtual School, coaches baseball, coordinates the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge, and chairs the ROAR Club. He has earned numerous awards, including 2014 Maryland Outstanding PE Teacher, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2017 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.

The other four finalists are Leslie Byrd, Linganore High; Lydia Kowalski, Tuscarora High; Matthew McVay, Monocacy Middle; and John Yoho, Brunswick High.

FCPS will announce the winner of the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year award later this spring. View the list of 2019 nominees and their photos online at

Theresa Dardanell

Catoctin High School (CHS) hosted another successful Community Dinner on Thursday, April 4, 2019.  Everyone living in the Catoctin feeder district was invited to enjoy a free meal, sponsored by Olive Garden and organized by the Outreach Committee at CHS. The Olive Garden Restaurant provided spaghetti, breadsticks, and salad. Trinity United Methodist Church donated their delicious cakes for dessert. Donations of supplies and items for the raffle were given by Weis, Food Lion, Bollinger’s Restaurant, Mountain Gate, Kountry Kitchen, Gateway Market and Candyland, Renovations Spa and Salon, Sheetz, the Palms, Carleos, and Subway.  The CHS horticulture class made beautiful table centerpieces that were given away to lucky winners at the end of the night. Staff, along with National Honor Society students, served the meal.   Volunteers also provided fun activities for the children. Hula hoops, corn hole, target toss, and board games, along with coloring supplies and face painting, were set up in the cafeteria and on the patio outside.

Carole Elliott, one of the organizers of the event, said, “We had a great turnout! Many enjoyed the dinner, raffle, games, and desserts! It was one of many events that Catoctin holds to bring the community together!”

The Outreach committee also sponsors the CHS food pantry, blessings in a backpack, Thanksgiving baskets, Santa’s workshop, and Cinderella’s closet for prom. 

Donations for any of these worthwhile programs are always welcome. Contact Carole Elliott at CHS at 240-236-8081 to find out how you can help.

Volunteers setting up for the Community Dinner at Catoctin High School.

Catoctin High School (CHS) Senior Eliza Phillips was selected as this year’s recipient of the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County,” representing  Catoctin High School.

School Counselor, Dana Brashear, stated, “Eliza goes out of her way to make others feel welcome and secure with who they are. She is not afraid to stand up for others, or be her own person.”

“It’s very difficult for me to see people hurt others. When I see injustice, I feel as if I must do what I can to make things right,” expressed Eliza.

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 for the student, and a $100 contribution to the charity of the student’s choice. Eliza chose Heartly House, which provides comprehensive services for victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse, rape/sexual assault, and child abuse.

Awards were formally presented at a Peace Conference and Awards Ceremony at Friends Meeting School in Ijamsville, Maryland, on March 30, 2019. Congratulations to Eliza for receiving this recognition from her school community.

Eliza Phillips, senior at Catoctin High School, is selected as this year’s recipient of the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at the new Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Strafford Drive, just off of Lawyer’s Lane, from Route 550 South of Thurmont.

Social hour will begin at 5:00 p.m., with the meal served promptly at 6:00 p.m. The classes ending in 4 or 9 will receive special recognition. Several basket raffles and a 50/25/25 raffle will take place.

Six graduating seniors, related to Thurmont High School Alumni, will receive $1,000 scholarships. The cost for the evening is $23.00 per person, which should be mailed to Viola Noffsinger, 12510 Creagerstown Road, Thurmont, MD 21788 (before May 16).

All alumnus of Thurmont High School and Catoctin High School classes (1969-1972), 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 vmnoff@ or call 301-898-9898.

Catoctin High School is selling limited edition, custom-made art prints to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Catoctin High School. The prints are of Thurmont High School; Emmitsburg High School; and Catoctin High School, as it looked when it opened fifty years ago.

The artwork was commissioned especially for Catoctin High School and created by talented artist Kim Flabbi. Kim is a long-time staff member of Catoctin High School, as well as a former coach and student. 

“I was very excited and feel honored to have been asked to create this artwork for my alma mater to celebrate this special anniversary,” said Flabbi. 

The school is selling fifty numbered and artist-signed prints, ready for framing. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate program, which recognizes outstanding alumni.

To purchase a print, visit Catoctin High School’s main office between 7:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. If you have questions, call the school at 240-236-8100.

Kim Flabbi with a custom-made print.

Courtesy Photo

Members of Catoctin High School’s (CHS) Sports Boosters are fundraising for a new (or like-new) utility vehicle to replace the current one. The current Cub Cadet has been in use for almost ten years, providing the important function of transporting supplies, injured athletes, and Catoctin’s athletic trainer between the school and various sporting activities on the school property. Athletic Director Keith Bruck said, “This is an important piece of equipment. Often times, an athletic trainer needs to speed between sports on the property when multiple competitions take place at the same time.”

The price tag is approximately $7,500 for a new piece of equipment. To fill this need, financial donations may be mailed to: CHS Sports Boosters, 14745 Sabillasville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788. The Boosters Club has also set up a GoFundMe account and donations can be made by going to<> and entering “Utility vehicle for Catoctin Athletics” in the search bar. The Athletic Department would like to have its new utility vehicle by the start of the fall sports season in August.

Sister Brenda Monahan, D.C., principal, is pleased to announce that Sharon Beard was chosen to receive the 2019 Friends of Catholic Education Excellence in Teaching Award for Mother Seton School (MSS). Beard has been an educator for thirty-four years, serving thirty of those years in Catholic education, specifically. For the past five years, Beard has taught fourth and fifth grade at MSS. She was selected as this year’s recipient in recognition of her dedication and willingness to go above and beyond for her students and the school. Most recently, she helped the school to acquire a grant for a Makerspace program, where children are given a variety of digital and “old-school” tools and resources to express their creativity.

Beard holds a Master’s degree in elementary education and has taught grades from pre-K through fifth grade. She also has a degree in music, has served as acting principal, has led accreditation efforts, including serving as chairperson, and was a lead teacher in the Middle States accreditation efforts. She has also served as a mentor to interns and student teachers helping to instill best practices and offering support to new professionals entering the field.

Pictured from left are Bill Milani, president of Friends of Catholic Education Board of Trustees; Sister Joan Corcoran, Mother Seton School mission integration coordinator; Sharon Beard, MSS Teacher of the Year; and Michelle Corr, executive director of FOCE.

Courtesy Photo

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded Scholarships worth over $95,000 to area students! Scholarships are available to all graduating high school level seniors from a Maryland State accredited public, private, and/or home-school program who reside within the Catoctin High School district boundaries as per the Frederick County Public School district map.

Scholarship application forms are available at the Catoctin High School Guidance Office and the Thurmont Public Library. Interested students must complete an application and return it to the location where it was obtained on or before April 30, 2019.

The successful applicant and family will be invited to Acacia Lodge’s Annual Strawberry Festival in June for the presentation of the Scholarship.

Questions regarding the application should be directed to Acacia Masonic Lodge #155, attn: Scholarship Committee via the Lodge website at

The Emmistsburg 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 having a 3.0 or higher grade point average, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, community and school activities, and pursuing higher education (technical school, four-year college, or community college).

Applications may be obtained by contacting the guidance department at Catoctin High School (Ryan Zimmerman at 240-236-8082) or by calling Phyllis Kelly at 717-642-6963.

All applications must be received by May 10, 2019.

Thurmont Middle School was well represented at the Frederick County Public Schools Technology Fair. The competition took place at The FCPS Career and Technology Center (CTC) on February 25, 2019.

Two eighth graders, Josh Aubol and Maceo Zelenka, designed and built the fastest hovercraft at Thurmont Middle School. They built the hovercraft as a project in Problem Solving class. Because of their creative engineering and consistently reliable hovercraft, Josh and Maceo were selected to represent Thurmont at the FCPS Technology Fair.

The two competed against teams from other Frederick County middle schools, twelve teams in all, with most of the county middle schools represented. Again, the duo prevailed. Their hovercraft, which they named Le Frog, was the fastest, and they won first place. The boys were awarded 3-D printed medals that were designed and created by CTC students.

Josh and Maceo were also presented with t-shirts from the current Automotive Service Technology program students. Since they won the FCPS Tech Fair, they now qualify to compete at the state level at The Baltimore Convention Center this spring.

Josh Aubol and Maceo Zelenka, eighth grade students at Thurmont Middle School, are selected to compete at the FCPS Techology Fair with their built hovercraft.

Courtesy Photo

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the 2019 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award. Named for a former Hood College faculty member who encouraged young people to enter the teaching profession, this award recognizes an FCPS teacher who has had a significant positive impact on young people.

Hood College presents the Tressler award annually to honor distinguished teaching in the Frederick County public schools system. A gift from the late Samuel Eig of Gaithersburg established the award. Hood College will recognize the winner during its master’s degree reception on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

FCPS has posted eligibility and nomination criteria, nomination process and selection guidelines at The school system welcomes nominations from current or former students, teachers and support staff, parents, community members, administrators, and supervisors.

Nomination packets are due to the FCPS Communication Services Office, 191 S. East Street, Frederick, MD 21701, by 3:00 p.m., Friday, March 22, 2019.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the school system’s 2019 Support Employee of the Year Awards. The awards recognize outstanding members of FCPS support staff.

Nomination eligibility, criteria, and process information are online at Nomination packets are due Thursday, March 28, 2019, by 3:00 p.m. to the FCPS Communication Services Office, 191 S. East Street, Frederick, MD 21701.

FCPS will recognize one finalist from each of eight broad job classifications at the June 12 Board of Education meeting.

The job classifications are bus drivers; business support (which includes some Food and Nutrition Services, Transportation Office/Garage, and Technology Services positions); non-school-based custodian/maintenance/warehouse staff; school-based custodian/maintenance staff; Food and Nutrition Services staff; instructional and mainstream assistants/community liaisons/user support specialists; non-school-based secretaries; and school-based secretaries.

During the recognition, Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban will name two of the eight finalists—one school-based and one non-school-based—the 2019 Support Employees of the Year.

It is time to recognize that special teacher who has made an impact on your child’s life and on your school community. Do you know a teacher who goes beyond what is expected? You can let this teacher know how important he/she has been to you by nominating him/her for the Thurmont Lions Club Teacher of the Year Award. Anyone can nominate a teacher: parents, students, fellow teachers, and administrators.

This award is open to pre-k through grade 12, full-time teachers, in the Catoctin feeder school system: Catoctin High, Thurmont Middle, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Primary, Lewistown Elementary, Sabillasville Elementary, and Mother Seton. 

All nominations will be recognized at a reception to be held on April 2, 2019, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Thurmont Regional Library. The Teacher of the Year for each school will be announced at the reception. The overall Teacher of the Year will be announced at the Thurmont Lions Club’s Education Night held in May 2019.

Nomination forms are available at and at the principal’s office at each school. Nomination forms are due no later than March 15, 2019.

If you have any questions, please contact Lion Susan Favorite at  or 240-409-1747 or Lion Joyce Anthony at or 240-288-8748.

Theresa Dardanell

Each year, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) recognizes students who demonstrate the leadership qualities of Dr. King during the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in January. Students who earned the award demonstrated positive leadership qualities and exhibited the “Character Counts Pillars”: responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness, citizenship, and respect. One outstanding student from each public school was chosen. The quotes below are from the nominations submitted by the staff at each school in the Catoctin feeder area.

Catoctin High School — Julia Ellenberg

“Julia has been an academic, athletic, and character leader at Catoctin High School. Julia is a member of multiple honor societies and a team captain on the swim team for Catoctin High School. Julia is looked at by her peers and her teachers as a steady and forthright young adult, who has helped lead our school through difficult circumstances. Julia’s work ethic in her academic classes is beyond compare, as she is planning on becoming a biomedical engineer; yet, she refers to her time as a student working in the Catoctin unified sports class as her most rewarding experience in high school.”

Thurmont Middle School — Thomas Bower

“Thomas is new to Thurmont Middle School (TMS) this year, and we are so lucky to have him. During his time at TMS, Thomas consistently demonstrates all of the characteristics for which this award stands. Besides his clear sense of responsibility and curiosity for learning, Thomas is friendly and always polite to others, no matter who they are. He always has a smile and seeks out ways in which he can help his peers. Thomas is an individual who I believe Dr. King would want to celebrate and promote.”

Thurmont Elementary School — Carolyn Mercer

“Thurmont Elementary School proudly nominates Carolyn Mercer for the Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Not only does she exhibit all of the qualities of ROAR (Respect, Ownership, Academics, Responsibility) in the classroom, but outside of school as well. She offers help without even being asked, and always has a smile on her face. Carolyn assists classmates by walking them to school, and in the community she folds laundry for a disabled elderly neighbor. We are so proud to have Carolyn representing Thurmont Elementary School.”

Thurmont Primary School — Ethan Tokar

“Ethan is one of the most helpful, kind, and genuine students at Thurmont Primary School (TPS).  When a new student arrived in his classroom, he offered to share materials, to sit with the student, and to be his partner during sharing time. He offers to help his teachers and other staff at dismissal, and he greets everyone with a smile! A representative group of teachers agreed that Ethan Tokar was a great representative of TPS for the MLK celebration!”

Emmitsburg Elementary School — Lillian Grable

“When we think of a student who is fair, celebrates others, and hopes to build a better future, we think of Lily! She mentors other students, helps with morning announcements, and is a gymnastics team leader. We are proud of her demonstration of kindness, and we enjoy watching her learn, grow, and inspire others.”

Lewistown Elementary School — Rachel Herbst

“Rachel has been involved in many roles while at Lewistown Elementary School. She has been a Peer Ambassador for two years and also a morning announcer. Rachel is a role model to all of her classmates. Rachel is always very respectful and polite to adults and peers. She has integrity and strives to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. She is engaged in learning in the classroom. She is always actively participating in class discussions. Rachel also perseveres and does her very best with any academic task. Her completed work is an example of what is expected as exceeding the expectations. Rachel is trustworthy and can always be counted on to be honest about any situation.”

Sabillasville Elementary School — Faith Harty

“Faith Harty shows many of the same qualities as Martin Luther King Jr. She is very caring towards her classmates and is always willing to help students and teachers as needed. She shows trustworthiness, as she often helps put away the computers or help around the room. She willingly helps other teachers, too! Faith is responsible and always works hard and does her best. Faith truly wants to learn. She shows other students the Sabillasville Elementary School way; she conducts herself in a safe manner, being careful not to cause harm to anyone else, she is engaged in learning, and is self-motivated to strive to do her best. She is an excellent representative for Sabillasville for the Martin Luther King Award.