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Theresa Dardanell

Fun hats were everywhere on the first day of Read Across America week at Thurmont Primary School (TPS).

Students celebrated the March 2 birthday of Dr. Seuss with a week of fun activities, focusing on a different Dr. Seuss book each day. Of course, the book on Monday was The Cat In The Hat. For the book, Green Eggs and Ham, on Tuesday, students wore green clothes.

Wacky Wednesday was the obvious book choice for the Wednesday book, and everyone had fun wearing their clothes inside out or backwards.

To go along with the book Fox in Socks on Thursday, crazy socks could be seen peeking out of shoes. Unfortunately, the activities for Friday were canceled when the Nor’easter forced schools to close.

Along with reading the books and wearing corresponding clothes, teachers provided fun activities, based on the books and the characters in the stories. In Mrs. Hamscher’s Kindergarten class, children wrote about their favorite and not-so-favorite foods when they talked about Green Eggs and Ham. On Crazy Hat Day, they wrote sentences to describe their hats.

Mrs. Hamscher said, “We love Dr. Seuss in Kindergarten!” Second grade students had a chance to vote for their favorite books and first grade students did a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activity, using stacking cups to make a hat.

Read Across America week is an annual reading motivation program, sponsored by the National Education Association.  Principal Karen Locke said that because reading is the number one predictor of student’s success, children are encouraged to read every day, and parents are provided with tips to help their children with reading. Books are everywhere at TPS, not just in the library.

Along with the books available in the classrooms and in the library, the TPS Book Nook is filled with a variety of free books for students to borrow.

Carly Hahn, Brayden Rickerd, Shane Smith, Clark Lasher, and Madilynn Wachter, wearing their special hats on The Cat In The Hat Day.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

Corbin Deviney (pictured left), a senior at Catoctin High School, recently received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. He will be one of over 1,200 incoming freshmen, and was chosen from a highly competitive pool of nearly 20,000 applicants.

Corbin, the son of Jeff and Heather Deviney of Thurmont, is president of the Catoctin High School Student Government, Vice President of Catoctin High’s National Honor Society, and is active in several other student organizations. He represented Thurmont/Emmitsburg area last summer as a delegate for 2017 Maryland Boys State. He has earned varsity letters in cross country, indoor track, and baseball, and volunteers with an adaptive watersports organization and the Maryland League for People with Disabilities. Corbin will be the fourth generation of his family to serve in the Navy, and he will begin the Naval Academy’s traditional Plebe Summer in late June 2018.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 2, 2018, at the new Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Stratford Drive, which is 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 3 or 8 will receive special recognition. Several basket raffles and a 50/25/25 raffle will take place. Five 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 18).

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 or call 301-898-9898.

Theresa Dardanell

Students and their parents enjoyed an evening of math, literacy and science activities on February 13, 2018, during Family Education Night at Lewistown Elementary School (LES). After a pizza dinner, provided by the PTA and served by LES staff, families rotated through three stations that were set up in the school.

Preparation for the science fair was the focus in the media center.  Staff members, Kim Williams and Dana Byard, were available to help students decide on a project, using Chromebooks for research.  Science books displayed on all of the tables were available for checkout. Students and their parents explored online math resources in the computer lab with the help of teacher Emily Mooney.

Chromebooks were set up in the gym for the literacy station, where Literacy Specialist Sarah Flora gave suggestions for online activities for students to access at home. The highlight of the night was the opportunity for the students to read to a therapy dog. Two volunteers from Wags for Hope were on-hand with their READ dogs. Reading Education Assistance Dogs and their owners are specially trained to work with children. These dogs help students by giving them reading practice in a no-pressure environment.

LES Speech Language Pathologist Molly Howser said that Family Education Night is a “great opportunity to build the relationship even stronger between the families and the school, an opportunity for us to come together as a community, and a great way to share the resources we have at the school.”  She added that the activities make it fun for the entire family.

Third grade student Olivia Yingling reads to Sparkles with the help of Wags for Hope volunteer, Kristi Wood.

Mother Seton School’s admissions brochure has been presented with the Gold award by the Educational Advertising Awards in the “Brochure” category. A national panel of education industry specialists reviewed all entered pieces, presenting Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit awards based on creativity, marketing execution and, message impact.

Mother Seton School partnered with Creosote Affects, an educational branding and marketing firm, to analyze changing market demographics and communicate the importance of a Mother Seton School education to new audiences. Together, Creosote Affects and Mother Seton School created an admissions brochure that combined clear, inspirational language and stunning photography to promote the school’s commitment to 21st-century learning, Catholic virtues and student success.

The back panel of the brochure unfolds to reveal an insert containing curricular information that corresponds to the prospective student’s age. Having a series of inserts to choose from allows Mother Seton School to provide parents with messaging that applies to their child’s stage of development.

Through the admissions brochure, Mother Seton School can express its value to prospective parents in a compelling and cost-effective way.

Mother Seton School’s admissions brochure received Gold at the Educational Advertising Awards in the Brochure category. A national panel of education industry specialists judged entries based on creativity, marketing execution, and message impact.

Theresa Dardanell

Emmitsburg Elementary School (EES) students, parents, and staff celebrated kindness together on February 21, 2018. The tables in the cafeteria were transformed into craft stations, where families worked together on kindness-themed items to share.

At the “Kindness Rocks” station, rocks were creatively decorated, and they will be placed in the Sebastian Gagliardi Memorial Garden in front of the school. Kindness to others was the theme of the “Kindness Card” station, where everyone decorated cards that will be sent to military personnel and children in hospitals. Other stations included materials provided to make picture frames, bookmarks, door hangers, and other items, by adding positive and encouraging sayings like: You are special, You are kind, and You are a great friend. A station dedicated to being good to wildlife contained craft items to make simple bird feeders.

Kindness Week at EES began with a challenge for the students to complete as many kind deeds as possible. Students were given a checklist of suggestions: smile at twenty-five people, say “thank you” to a volunteer, help someone if they fall down, and invite a new friend to play. School Counselor Sarah Fawley said that this event provides an opportunity for the students to be leaders by being respectful, responsible, and kind.

Steven Moore with his son, Liam Moore, and Ashley Stanley with her daughter, Aubrey Stotler, are shown painting kindness rocks.

Theresa Dardanell

Students at Sabillasville Elementary School spent a week being extra kind to others, during “Random Acts of Kindness Week” in February. Morning announcements included suggestions of ways to be good to each other during the day. Teachers incorporated kindness into their lessons and read stories that demonstrate caring and consideration of others.

For a special challenge, students were given a list of ideas for showing kindness at home, in school, and in the community. Some of the ideas were: do a good deed for a neighbor, give someone a hug when they really need it, help someone around the house without being asked, and let someone go ahead of you in line. Students had fun dressing for kindness each day.  They wore their hats to school on “Hat’s Off to Kindness Day,” wore crazy socks on “Be Crazy for Kindness Day,” and sported pajamas on “Dream Kindness Day.”

The most popular activity of the week was the Kindness Rocks project. Each student was given a painted rock on which they could write or draw something to make others feel good. School Counselor Stacy Bokinsky said, “They really loved that project. They were all super excited.” Some of the words on the rocks were: share, love, peace, hope, happy, and believe. After the rocks were sealed with a protective coating, they were placed in the courtyard garden outside of the school.

Charles McGinnis, Matthew Pryor, Lily Lawler, Preslee Bolen, and Denver Black are shown wearing their spiritwear shirts, and proudly showing their kindness rocks.


Theresa Dardanell

Owen Bubczyk is Catoctin High School’s 2017-2018 Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) Leadership Award winner. He will be attending the leadership conference at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg in May.

Bubczyk submitted an application to be considered for this award and was chosen because of his volunteer and leadership experiences.  According to Catoctin High School teacher, Keith Bruck, “Out of the applications submitted, Owen’s addressed best the requirements for the essay. His leadership qualities and desire to be involved in charitable foundations, such as the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, made Owen an easy choice for the award.  He is a great young man who will embrace and enjoy all that the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar has to offer.”

HOBY was created in 1958, with the mission to inspire young people to a life of leadership, service, and innovation. HOBY provides students who are selected by their schools to participate in leadership training, service-learning, and motivation-building experiences. Bubczyk will join other high school sophomores on Memorial Day weekend for this leadership training.

Pictured are Owen Bubczyk and Catoctin High School Principal Bernard Quesada.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

The 2018 Catoctin High School (CHS) Distinguished Graduate Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, at 9:30 a.m., at Catoctin High School. Catoctin High will be celebrating its 50th anniversary 2018-2019 as well.

Community members are invited to nominate their choice of any CHS graduate (any year), who they feel is deserving of recognition in any of the five categories: academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and service. The community can also nominate a former CHS staff member (cafeteria worker, custodian, instructional aide, secretary, teacher, or administrator) to be recognized.

Distinguished graduate nominations will be due by May 1; nominees will be provided an application form with applications due June 1; applications will be reviewed and selections made the first week of June. Call the school at 240-236-8100 to obtain an application.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the 2018 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, Maryland, established the award. Hood College will recognize the winner during its master’s degree reception on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

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, as well as 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., on Friday, March 23, 2018.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) is accepting nominations for the school system’s 2018 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 29, 2018, 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 13, 2018, 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 2018 Support Employees of the Year.

Two Catoctin High School students recently earned first place awards at the county level of the 2017-18 Young Authors Contest and will be honored at a reception at the Board of Education Conference Room on March 12, 2018. This year’s winners are as follows: Grade 9: Christian Davis for his short story “Stahlhelm”; Grade 12: River Feltner for his poem “Stutters.”

Both students will vie for a chance to win at the state level and present their written pieces at the 46th Annual State of Maryland International Reading Council (SoMIRAC) Conference, to be held in April 2018, in Hunt Valley, Maryland.


“March Madness”

I am pretty sure that “March Madness” means something different to some moms than it does to some dads. “In like a lion, out like a lamb,” March is generally that month when the plagues of winter—snow, frigid temperatures, endless sicknesses—start to recede.

With the melting snow, the reintroduction of the sun, and the kiddos temperatures starting to return to normal, we moms start to see the light (pun intended) at the end of the long, dark, cold, winter tunnel.  We look for relief from the forced hibernation (which feels more like being under house arrest) that comes from all the illnesses spread back and forth on the family share plan!

This year was particularly hard for many. With a virulent flu being passed around, many of my family and friends experienced extensive sickouts and multiple trips to the doctor’s office and ER.

As a result of winter and its assorted plagues, it is about this time of the year that many experience a new, contagious fever: cabin fever. Cabin fever is real, alive, and one of the most prevalent causes of March Madness. For all those who were more than a little discouraged with the groundhog’s shadowy prediction, before you head back into hibernation or head up to Punxsutawney with torches, pitchforks, or protest signs, here are a few encouraging ideas.


  1. Look for the light. Literally! Daylight Savings Time is in sight! At 2:00 a.m. on March 11, we will “spring forward.” As a result, we will begin to see more light in the evening, a sure sign of spring!


  1. Continue an important journey. For many, the month of March is right smack dab in the middle of Lent. Although this season is a time of sacrifice and self-discipline (which includes prayer, fasting, and almsgiving), it is also a period of renewal and rejuvenation, culminating in the celebration of Easter and a closer, more intimate relationship with God. This time of reflection and preparation makes this path a true spiritual journey from darkness to light.


  1. Declutter your life. Both the season of spring and that of Lent are the perfect time to declutter. A popular challenge, “40 Bags in 40 Days,” encourages participants to break down areas of their home into more manageable chunks, collect unnecessary or non-used items, and bag them. Once collected, the bags can be disposed of, gifted, or donated to others in need. Some wonderful outlets for donation include: church thrift shops (such as St. Peter the Apostle Thrift Shop in Libertytown), animal shelters and rescues, Dress for Success (a program offering low-income women needed business attire for the workplace), homeless shelters, consignment shops, and used bookstores. The end result is both freeing and rewarding.


  1. Be inspired. March 10 marks the celebration of Harriet Tubman Day. A model of courage and heroism, Tubman, born a slave, was a humanitarian, American abolitionist, a spy for the U.S. Army, an Army scout, a women’s suffrage movement activist, and a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. Nicknamed “Moses,” Tubman continually risked her life to lead countless slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Marylanders can conveniently visit many sites, marking the history of this amazing woman. Only about ninety minutes from Baltimore, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is easily accessible to guests. Here, visitors can learn more about Tubman and her remarkable life.


  1. Enjoy a new “spring” in your step. The 2018 Spring Equinox is March 20 at 12:15 p.m. Astronomically, this event marks the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (see me do my happy dance!). Historically, this event usually sees a decrease in new flu cases. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), although the cases of the flu are generally seen throughout the year, “flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.” (Happy dance reprisal!).


  1. Appreciate the circular…or at least consume it. March 14, otherwise known as 3.14, marks the celebration of Pi Day. Those of us who aren’t math enthusiasts can at least do our part in upholding the celebration by enjoying a slice…be it peach, apple, or pizza pie.


  1. Immerse yourself and the kiddos. With the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day (weekday closest to March 2), Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 2), and Tolkien Reading Day (March 25), all falling within the month of March, how can we not take some extra time for reading this month? According to the NEA, “motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.” Experts recommend reading aloud to your children, as well as motivating them to read daily.


But no matter how you choose to spend your March, truth is you survived another Maryland winter, and, for that, you are to be commended. May you and your family have a blessed spring.