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James Rada Jr.

There will be a charter school in Sabillasville next year. When the Frederick County Board of Education approved the charter for the Sabillasville Elementary School in September, it came with two conditions: (1) It can show there are 161 students who will attend the new school by December 1; and (2) The new school can find a suitable site.

The enrollment has been the condition that has caused the most concern since it was the low enrollment at Sabillasville Elementary School that led to discussions about closing the school in the first place.

The enrollment target needs to be hit because funding is based on the school’s enrollment. That is the number of students needed to ensure enough funding for the school to operate properly.

The parents’ group that formed to develop the charter school has been soliciting commitment letters from county parents, stating that they will send their children to the new charter school.

“We have 164 as of right now, but more are coming in,” said Alisha Yocum, president of Sabillasville Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization and head of the citizens’ group. Interest in the new school has come from parents all over the county.

The higher the enrollment for the new school, the more per-pupil funding the school will receive. This can help the school meet its future enrollment targets and also have some surplus funds to use if issues arise during the school year. The citizen’s committee that put together the charter is also planning on applying for grants and running a fundraising campaign to help create more of a cushion in the finances.

The plan calls for the new environmentally-focused school to serve grades K-8, although it will serve only K-6 students next year. The three-year charter plan calls for additional grades to be phased in 2023 and 2024. Seventh grade will be added in the second year of the school’s operation, and eighth grade in the third year. The student:teacher ratio will be 23:1. This is where the first year target enrollment of 161 students comes from.

Enrollment will be something the charter school staff will have to watch each year.

“We will need to make sure we can fill the incoming kindergarten class with 23 students,” Yocum said. “And if anyone leaves or moves, we would hope to have a wait-list so those can be replaced as well.”

With the second condition, the Frederick County Board of Education first has to vote to close the elementary school. Once that is done, a process is started to decide what to do with the building. It is expected to be used for the charter school. Although the board of education could vote to do something else with the building, no other parties have expressed an interest in it.

National FFA convention is held every year and attracts FFA members from every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. The 94th National FFA Convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, October 26-31, 2021.  Eighteen Catoctin FFA members joined over 60,000 other FFA members and guests from across our nation. Members were able to participate in sessions, workshops, and a career expo.

Members competed in Career Development Events/Leadership Development Events, more often referred to as CDEs and LDEs. To complete a CDE/LDE, each team or individual contestant extensively learned their subject and rehearsed their task in preparation for state convention. Every state gets to send one winning team per CDE/LDE to advance to nationals. This year, Catoctin FFA’s Agricultural Sales, Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management, Horse Evaluation, and Milk Qualities and Products teams advanced to nationals. Each team had to complete a portion of their contest virtually before going to Indianapolis. 

Agriculture Sales had to research several different types of Merck Animal Health Products and sell one to a customer. The members on this team researched the features and benefits of each product, interacted with a customer, determined that customer’s wants and needs, and tried to sell the product to that particular customer. Catoctin’s team members were Ella Burrier, Caroline Clark, Abby Moreland, and Kolton Whetzel. Each member placed silver, individually, and the team was a silver team. The team was coached by Michael and Amy Jo Poffenberger.

Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management team develop skills in dairy cattle selection and herd management. Participants evaluate the cattle’s physical characteristics, explain their various classes, and analyze a herd record as a team.  Owen Cook earned a bronze placing, individually. Rianna Chaney, Sheridan Chaney, and Cadin Valentine earned a silver placing, individually. The team placed bronze. The team was coached by Becky Chaney and Patti Hubbard. 

The Horse Evaluation team judged different classes of horses and presented reasons as to why they placed the classes that they did. Working together, the team identified and problem-solved horse issues. The team earned a silver placing. Carly Ridenour earned a bronze placing, individually. Kendall Abruzzese and Corinn Gregory earned silver, individually, and Cheyenne Van Echo earned a gold placing. This team was coached by Dani Jackson.

Milk Qualities and Products:  Members in this CDE demonstrate their knowledge about the quality production, processing, distribution, promotion, and marketing of milk and dairy foods. Dallas Hassel placed bronze, individually. Syenna Biser, Abigail Christian, and Sierra Flanary placed silver, individually.  The team placed bronze. The team was coached by Shelby Green and Carrie Wivell Wolf.

American FFA Degree recipients: Less than 1 percent of FFA members receive this prestigious degree. To be eligible to receive the American FFA Degree, members must meet qualifications such as receiving a State FFA Degree, holding active membership for the past three years, completing secondary instruction in an agricultural education program, and operating an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program. This year, Catoctin FFA had two members receive this highest honor: Robert Hahn and Hannah Hartness.

Catoctin FFA would like to thank everyone for all of the support in helping them to participate in the 94th National FFA Convention.  These students have gained skills and memories that will last a lifetime.

Mother Seton School is pleased to announce that on October 29, 2021, seven eighth-graders were inducted as the newest members of the Archbishop James Bayley Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). These students were selected based on their academic achievement and strong character: Benjamin Caretti (Woodsboro), Sophia Erdman (Westminster), Grace Hewitt (Blue Ridge Summit, PA), Gianna Kinnamont (Thurmont), Anya Laird (Frederick), Thien-Y Pham (Frederick), Maryn Rajaski (Frederick), Finnian Tayler (Frederick), and Caleb Thompson (Walkersville).

The NJHS is an international student organization that recognizes high-achieving students in grades sixth through ninth. The purpose of Mother Seton School’s NJHS chapter—based on the five pillars of the organization—is to create enthusiasm for scholarship, stimulate a desire to render service, promote leadership, develop character, and encourage good citizenship in the students.

NJHS members perform acts of service throughout the school year, which is in keeping with Mother Seton School’s mission of building strong Christian values such as service to others. “These students have shown their willingness to work to offer service not only to Mother Seton School but to the local community,” said Mr. Christopher Cosentino, faculty advisor to the Archbishop James Bayley chapter. Their first service project for this year will be a toy collection in honor of deceased alumnus, Tommy Laudani.

“I was proud to have the opportunity to induct these students into the NJHS,” Mr. Cosentino added. “They are great role models for the younger students, in demonstrating the scholarship, leadership, and citizenship we inspire our students to strive for.”

Mother Seton School announces the newest members of the Archbishop James Bayley Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (from left): Sophia Erdman, Maryn Rajaski, Benjamin Caretti, Anya Laird, Caleb Thompson, Thien-Y Pham, Grace Hewitt, Finnian Tayler, and Gianna Kinnamont.

Jayden Myers

Transitioning from middle school into high school causes a whirlwind of anxiety during the first few weeks. You have to adjust to finding classes, meeting new people, and more. Although, schools do try to make such a big adjustment as smooth as possible for incoming freshmen. While it’s challenging for some, it may be easier for others. For me, the change was a rough one to take on.

At the beginning of my seventh-grade year, I became sick multiple times. I was put on HHT (Home Hospital Teaching), as I wasn’t able to stay healthy long enough to attend school. I was on HHT for almost three years before making the decision to attempt high school during my freshman year.

The initial transition definitely could have been handled better. Though I have learned to adjust fairly well, I was so used to being in the comfort of my home and working around my schedule, I forgot what it was like to be in a classroom again.

In the beginning, my teachers barely knew anything about my medical situation, which made it challenging from the start. One of my accommodations made my first few weeks of school frustrating due to comments from teachers outside of my classes about why I was out of class early. I would get extremely anxious when being confronted due to the fear of getting in trouble for something that I was given permission to do.

I was struggling socially, so communication with peers and authority figures was not one of the easiest things for me.

I didn’t want to try and make new friends, as I didn’t want to bother people. I made one, and then I grew a bit distant. I ate lunch alone for a few days, occasionally another friend joined me. Then one day, I was sort of just adopted by this group of people, with almost all of them being older than me.

They made me feel the most comfortable. I couldn’t ask for better people to meet. Things became easier after that. That comfort gave me the confidence boost I needed to find my path at high school. I didn’t feel as alone as I had when I first started out.

High school isn’t as bad as it seems in middle school. As with most things, the anxiety beforehand is usually the worst part. A lot of days there isn’t too much homework and it’s pretty laid back.

Homecoming is also something I hope everyone can experience at least once, even if you just go with some friends. I think having friends that are upperclassmen is pretty fun, too. Their experiences can help you out sometimes, and they’re always interesting to hang out with.

Overall, the transition into high school was pretty challenging for me, but I eventually found where I belong. Though the start may be difficult, it definitely opens up opportunities for new experiences, and it’s a time to take chances. You’ll figure out what your future has in store for you, but for now, have some fun during these years.

Are you interested in having your child(ren) attend the newest charter school in Frederick County? Sabillasville Environmental School—A Classical Charter is now accepting Letters of Intentions to enroll students for the 2022-2023 School Year. There is no cost to attend the school if you are a Frederick County Public School resident.

The school will offer grades K-8, with K-6 being offered in the first year. The school will offer a classical curriculum with a focus on environmental science/agriculture.  Visit www.sesclassical.org to find out more information. All Letters of Intention for enrollment must be submitted by November 15, 2021

James Rada Jr.

The Frederick County Board of Education voted last month to conditionally approve the charter for the new Sabillasville Environmental School. This will give the school three more years to prove it can attract additional pupils who want to receive an agriculturally focused education.

The conditional approval depends on two things: (1) The new school can find a suitable site; and (2) It can show there are 161 students who will attend the new school by December 1.

The Sabillasville citizens’ group that put the charter proposal together plans to use the existing Sabillasville Elementary School for their new school, but this is not a given. The Frederick County Board of Education first has to vote to close the elementary school. Once that is done, a process is started to decide what to do with the building. It could be used for the Sabillasville Environmental School, but the board members pointed out that another charter school has also shown some interest in the site. Board President Jay Mason said the board could not guarantee the building for the Sabillasville Environmental School.

“We called all three charter schools in Frederick, and they told us they are not interested in the school because it’s too small,” said Alisha Yocum, president of Sabillasville Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization and head of the citizens’ group. “We’re not sure why suddenly this is coming up again.”

The citizens’ group had hoped the board of education would grant the school a conversion charter that would allow the elementary school to transition into the charter school. Some confusion still remains over whether state law allowing for a conversion charter would apply in this situation and who has the authority to make the decision.

The board intends to sort this out, and if it is applicable, members seemed willing to go this route, which would provide the new school with the building the citizens’ group wants.

As for reaching the school-needed-enrollment number, the citizens’ group has been working toward that. The number needs to be reached so that the school receives enough per-pupil funding to operate. With the current enrollment at less than half of the needed 161, it seemed a daunting task to reach in a short time. However, after Superintendent Teresa Alban made her recommendation of conditional approval to the board in August, the citizens’ group has been soliciting letters of intent from county parents to show they would be willing to send their children to the new school. Yocum said that as of September 18, the citizens’ group had 105 students whose parents wanted to send them to the Sabillasville Environmental School, which does not include the students currently enrolled in the elementary school. This would bring the potential enrollment in the new school to around 175 students.

“We have interest from all over,” Yocum said. “Woodsboro, Middletown, Myersville, Frederick, and Thurmont. Parents are very interested in the environmental and agricultural part of the curriculum.”

With the board’s conditional approval, the citizens of Sabillasville overcame a large hurdle toward keeping a school in their town. Now, they have to continue the momentum and meet the conditions that came with the approval.

“It’s exciting,” Yocum said. “I can’t wait for all the unique opportunities and experiences we’ll be able to provide kids.”

These individuals are some who played a vital role in supporting and planning for Sabillasville Elementary School’s future: (from left) Abbey Sparkman, Kelsey Norris, Heather Sparkman, Justus Yocum, Alisha Yocum, Bryce Yocum (in front), Robbie Koontz, Shelby Green, Barb Doney, Eli Yocum, Colleen McAfee, and Tanzy Logue.

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 board@fcps.org. 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 www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzLkirsOq1A.

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 www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzLkirsOq1A.

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 vmnoff@gmail.com 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: www.thurmontmasons.com.

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 kellyphy82547@gmail.com. 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 Rogadodi@aol.com 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 www.thurmontlionsclub.com or by contacting Lion Gayle DiSalvo at Rogadodi@aol.com.

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 Rogadodi@aol.com 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 www.GladeValley.org, 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 www.thurmontmasons.com.

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.