Currently viewing the category: "School News"

Theresa Dardanell

Teachers Sarah Palmer and Chris Barnhart were chosen to receive the prestigious 2017 Simon McNeely Award from the Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD). Palmer has been teaching PE for twenty years, eleven of those at Emmitsburg Elementary School. Barnhart, who has been teaching PE for twenty-five years, has been at Thurmont Primary for seventeen years.

Palmer (pictured right) received this award for her creativity and innovation. In a joint project with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers in her building, Palmer worked with fifth grade PE students to design and build an indoor miniature golf course, using their STEM skills, together with the golf skills learned in PE classes. The golf course is part of the annual field day activity, which is a community event in Emmitsburg. She has shared her lesson ideas and strategies with other Frederick County Public School (FCPS) PE teachers. She said that the best part of her job is getting to know the students, watching them grow and be successful, and “…it is fun to see them try different things and get those aha moments.”

Barnhart (pictured left) was chosen for this award for his work on curriculum development and leadership in elementary physical education. Because Thurmont Primary students are Kindergarten through second grade, Barnhart focuses on teaching skills such as kicking, throwing, catching, punting, and other skills related to sports. He also combines vocabulary with PE by teaching the words related to the sports skills they are learning. Health and nutrition lessons include cleanliness, handwashing, brushing teeth, and other healthy habits. Barnhart said that there are so many things he enjoys about his job. He said, “It’s awesome. The students love coming to PE. Everything you teach them they want to go home and tell mom and dad. The impact I can have on them is what overwhelms me.”

According to Jamie Hitchner, Curriculum Specialist for Elementary PE and Health, both Palmer and Barnhart also participate in leadership teams and staff development with FCPS.  He said, “Both Mr. Barnhart and Ms. Palmer exemplify the outstanding work that our programs accomplish for the benefit of our students and community.”

Theresa Dardanell

The Thurmont Spirit Show Choir (TSSC) is a performing arts group of Thurmont Middle School (TMS) sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students, who participate in local and regional competitions. They also sing and dance during the annual talent show, as well as in the winter and spring programs at TMS.

The performances have themes, such as broadway songs, contemporary music, popular music, or love songs. To commemorate the eighteen years that Berna LaForce, TMS music and theater arts director, has been directing the TSSC, the group will be performing many of LaForce’s favorite songs and dances during the “Stroll Down Memory Lane” shows at the Middle School, as well as in competitions.

This year, there are forty students in the TSSC. These students must demonstrate good character, keep up good grades, and be willing to work hard during the weekly practices.

LaForce said that she is impressed with the talent of these students.  Carrie Payne, one of the presidents of the TSSC booster organization, said that, “Berna Laforce goes above and beyond all the time for these children. She spends so many hours to help these kids bring their talent out.”


Berna LaForce and Thurmont Spirit Show Choir.

Theresa Dardanell

Food, families, friendship, fun…and all for free! That’s what brought more than two hundred people together on December 4, 2017, at Catoctin High School. Everyone in the community was invited to enjoy a free meal, donated by Mountain Gate Family Restaurant. They were treated to fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cole slaw, and dinner rolls. The cake for dessert was donated by the Thurmont Trinity United Church of Christ.  Members of the indoor track team said that they especially liked the fried chicken, and, of course, the cake.

Families, school staff, students, and friends enjoyed spending time together.  There were tables set up for children. The “smaller kiddos” table had holiday coloring pictures, games, and craft supplies. The “bigger kiddos” table had puzzles and games. Four-year-old Kash Brashear had fun playing the Paw Patrol Race to the Rescue game.

Everyone had a chance to win one of the holiday door prizes. Walkersville E&E Trees donated a pre-cut Christmas tree, and Mountains Edge Tree Farm in Smithsburg donated four certificates for a cut-your-own tree. Other prizes were $20.00 gift cards from Weis, poinsettias from “Flowers by Anne” in Hagerstown, and other holiday gifts from staff member Dev Wivell. There was also a table with “take what you want” free items, including school supplies and other donated items.

Guidance Counselor Shannon Stone and former counselor Sue Weaver coordinated the event this year. They were joined by staff members Robert Nutter, Amy Bellarmino, Mindy Day, Lacee Andrew, and Deb Wivell. Mike Livergood and Robert Phelan gave a preview of the upcoming financial literacy class.

It was a wonderful event that demonstrated the generosity and friendship in the community.

During the Community Dinner at Catoctin High School on December 4, 2017, staff members Mike Livergood and Robert Phelan gave a brief preview of an upcoming financial literacy class. The money management course, Financial Peace University (FPU), was created by financial guru Dave Ramsey, and teaches the basics of budgeting, eliminating debt, planning for the future, and more.

This nine-week class will be held on Mondays, from January 29-March 26, 2018. E-mail or with questions. The cost for a family is $129. Sign up at

Theresa Dardanell

The Catoctin High School (CHS) cast and crew of Auntie Mame  demonstrated remarkable versatility during their performances on October 27 and 28, 2017. The story is about an orphan, played by Casey Ecker, who goes to live with his eccentric aunt, played by Jean Pembroke.  Ecker and Pembroke, who both have previously performed on stage at CHS, were joined by a group of students who played multiple roles during the show. Some of these cast members were making their stage debut during this performance.  Sophomore Isabel Rozo did an amazing job playing five completely different parts in her first-time performance. She not only had to change costumes for each character, she had to switch personalities.  The story took place over many years, so there were a lot of costume changes for all of the characters, not only those with multiple parts. Justin Peters, another student who had never been in a performance, played four different characters. Matthew Imes also portrayed four characters during the show. Christopher Reed, a senior at CHS, has been in many productions since his freshman year.  He played three very diverse characters during this show. CJ Corbin made his stage debut by playing three parts. Addison Eyler also portrayed three different characters. Zoe Scheetz played two characters in her first on-stage performance. Iain Hallowell and Teairah Velasquez also joined the cast.

When describing the cast and crew, Director Cheryl Ehrlich said, “I just couldn’t be prouder.” The tech crew, supervised by teacher Evan Felmet, worked behind the scenes. Tech Crew members were:  Jude O’Donnell, lighting; Sophia Degennaro and Ethan Simpson, sound; Lauren Haller and Tara O’Donnell, stage crew.

Cast of Auntie Mame.

Tech Crew members for Auntie Mame.

Sabillasville Elementary School hosted its 3rd Annual Sabillasville Scenic 5K/1-Mile Fun Run on November 12, 2017. It was organized by the Sabillasville Elementary School’s Parent Group (SES-PG). The SES-PG would like to thank all the runners and volunteers that came out to help support the SES-PG by participating in this event. It was a beautiful day, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the event.

The proceeds from this event will help provide cultural arts programs and field trips for the students of SES. Both families and single runners signed up to run and to enjoy the scenic route, which was cheered on by students and spectators. The SES-PG looks forward to hosting it again next year, and hopes to see everyone back again.

The SES-PG would like to give a special thanks to its Gold Sponsors: Scenic View Orchard, Tommy West Memorial Fund, Vinny Healy Memorial Christian Outreach Fund, Diamond-H Construction, Catoctin Consultancy, The Hillard Family, Gnarly Artly, KLM Specialty Projects, Mick’s Plumbing & Heating, and Wegmans; its Silver Sponsors: Anytime Fitness, Harbaugh’s Harvest, and Worth’s Towing; and its Bronze Sponsor: Tastefully Simple by Dawn Fisher.

Catoctin High School will hold a free holiday event for area children this holiday season. The school’s various clubs and organizations invite area children to Santa’s Workshop on Saturday, December 16, 2017, from 9:00-11:00 a.m., at Catoctin High School.

The cafeteria will be transformed into a winter wonderland for children to enjoy many fun activities, such as photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday storytime, singing holiday carols, face painting, make-your-own holiday craft stations, cookie decorating, letter writing to Santa, festive holiday dress-up photo booth, and much more. All activities are free of charge! For more information, contact Catoctin High School at 240-236-8100.

Theresa Dardanell

Twenty-two Catoctin High School (CHS) FFA members, along with FFA Advisor Amy Jo Poffenberger, attended the National FFA convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, this past October. They returned to CHS with multiple awards and recognitions. Over 67,000 FFA members from every state participated in sessions, workshops, and a career expo during the four-day event. According to the National FFA website, “The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.”

The Agricultural Marketing team, Maddie Godlove, Carley McGhee, and Alexis Morgan, earned the bronze award for their presentation on improving a lawn care business.

The Agriculture Sales team also placed bronze. Team members Robert Hahn, Maddie Krantz, Kaleb Mercedes, and Kiah Morgan researched RTVs and developed a sales presentation, based on customer needs.

The silver award was presented to the Farm and Agribusiness Management Team of Hannah Hartness, Tiffany Lenhart, Megan McIntosh, and Stephanie Moreland. Using problem-solving skills, the team answered questions about agricultural businesses.

The Horse Evaluation Team judged different classes of horses and presented reasons for their decision. The team of Tierney Monaghan, Destiny Snedegar, Mackenzie Henderson, and Sierra Weatherly earned the silver award. Weatherly, who was second in the nation for horse judging, received special recognition on the national stage for her achievement. According to Poffenberger, “Many FFA members never get that opportunity.”

Abby Kinnard won the bronze for Creed Speaking, a competition in which participants memorize the FFA Creed and answer three questions about how it reflects agricultural life.

Laura Dutton, Jimmy Kempisty, and Ty Lenhart attended the convention as Chapter Delegates.

In addition, Stephanie Kennedy, Nicki Millbourne, and Megan Millison received the prestigious American FFA Degree. Catoctin was also recognized nationally as a two-star chapter of the FFA.

Poffenberger said, “National FFA Convention is the superbowl of FFA. It is the time of year where members from across our nation come together to celebrate and showcase all of the hard work that they have put into contest, chapter events, and other activities.”

The Catoctin High School FFA Team

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.