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The Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) 8th grade Life Skills curriculum includes a service learning project. This year, the students at Thurmont Middle School (TMS) chose to help the people of Ukraine.

The students researched the needs of the people since the February 2022 invasion by Russia. The class decided to make and sell support ribbons and crochet bracelets in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Each student made a persuasive poster, advertising the sale of these items and set a class goal for $400. They surpassed their goal and will be sending a check for $423 to Direct Relief. Congratulations, TMS 8th graders!

The Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association (EHSAA) is pleased to announce the winners of its annual EHSAA scholarship program. Four $1,000 scholarships were awarded this year. The scholarship applicants were judged on involvement in school and community activities, as well as their academic work. Honors and work experience were also considered.

The first three scholarship recipients were seniors at Catoctin High School (CHS). Rianna Chaney, daughter of Lee and Becky Chaney, is planning to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall. Sheridan Chaney, daughter of Lee and Becky Chaney, is planning to attend Butler Community College.  Wyatt Davis, son of James and Peggy Davis, is planning to attend Shippensburg University. 

The final recipient was a former graduate of Catoctin High School.  Attending West Virginia University, with the idea of becoming a Neurosurgeon, is Max Bingman, son of William and Jennifer Bingman.

All recipients will be recognized at the Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association’s 98th Annual Banquet to be held October 15, 2022. They are all wished much success.

Pictured are Sheridan Chaney, Wyatt Davis, Rianna Chaney, and Vickie Frushour.

Team 686, Bovine Intervention, a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) high school level robotics program at Catoctin High School in Thurmont, competed at three FIRST Chesapeake Robotics Competition events.

The first two events were in March 2022 at the Old Banneker High School in Washington, D.C. Based on their performance, the team advanced to the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship event in April at the Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia. Out of 60 teams from Maryland, District of Columbia, and Virginia, competing at the championship event, Bovine Intervention ranked 12th and competed in the quarterfinal playoff matches.

Bovine Intervention is composed of students from various Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) High Schools. Students on the team are inspired and learn valuable STEM skills related to computer programming, CAD, and engineering principles for designing and building a competition robot. The team is growing and will continue in their training during the summer, with outreach and off-season events to participate in. Their activities are held at Catoctin High School and at a commercial building in the Thurmont area.

To learn more about Bovine Intervention and FIRST, for information and links to Facebook and Instagram sites, or if you would like to join the team, please visit the team website at

Thurmont Grange #409 is offering two scholarships to any 2022 Catoctin High School graduating senior attending a technical or trade school, community college, or four-year college. Applicants are required to submit one letter of recommendation and an essay of 250-500 words on one of three topics offered in the application. Scholarships will be awarded on June 15, 2022.

Applications may be obtained by emailing [email protected] or contacting the Catoctin High School Guidance Department (Mike Marquez at [email protected] or 240-236-8082). All applications must be received by May 31, 2022.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 11, at the Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Stratford Drive in Thurmont. Frederick County COVID-19 rules will be followed. This year, we will recognize all basketball players (male and female) to stand at some point in the program. Social hour will begin at 4:00 p.m., with the meal served promptly at 5:00 p.m.

This year, the anniversary classes are those that end in 2 and 7. 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 25). 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. 

In the spring of 2019, an idea sparked in the head of Stephanie Felmet, one of Catoctin High School’s theater directors. She immediately sought out Amy Poffenberger, the Catoctin FFA advisor, about a collaborative effort between the drama department and the FFA. Unfortunately for all involved, two short weeks before the culmination of the efforts were to debut, COVID-19 hit and all was canceled.

Now, years later, they’re trying again. The drama department will perform State Fair, a Rogers and Hammerstein musical, while the FFA will host a carnival preceding the show.

State Fair is about an Iowan farming family, the Frakes, who travel to the 1946 Iowa State Fair to have the father’s hog and the mother’s pickles and mincemeat judged. The journey the two Frake children take is one of self-discovery and growing up. They both have safe lives planned for them at home, but chance encounters at the fair make them question what they really want to achieve and accomplish. Can they be happy back on the farm, or are they yearning for something more?

State Fair, which features seniors Skyler Payne, Caleigh Sare, Raphaela Smaldone, and Justin Clair, and juniors Emily Burrier and Richie Coursey, was chosen as the show for a number of reasons. First, the rural setting was a wonderful match for the Thurmont area, with so many residents involved in and dedicated to agricultural pursuits. Second, it allowed for a perfect collaboration with the Catoctin FFA since any state or county fair would involve the work of students like Catoctin’s own. Lastly, director Evan Felmet starred in this show his senior year of high school, and it holds a special place in his heart.

Each showing of the spring musical, State Fair, will be preceded by a fun family carnival, with a petting zoo, flush tank, games, a bake sale, and more! Several FFA students will also be providing animals to participate in the musical itself. The carnival functions as a fundraiser for the drama department and the FFA, providing opportunities for both organizations to gain funding for their various endeavors.

Come see State Fair and the carnival on April 8-9 at Catoctin High School. The first opportunity will be April 8, with the carnival from 5:00-6:30 p.m., followed by the show at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, April 9, will have its first carnival from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with a 1:00 p.m. show to follow; and the second carnival will run from 5:00-6:30 p.m., with the last show at 7:00 p.m. As they say in the show, “Don’t miss it! Don’t even be late!”

View the advertisement on page 46.

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 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 Rt. 140). Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution of higher learning.

Selection is based on having a 3.0 or higher GPA, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, and pursuing higher education (four-year college or community college). No GPA is required for full-time trade school.

Applications may be obtained by contacting the Guidance Department at Catoctin High School (Mike Marquez at 240-236-8082). All applications must be received by May 1, 2022.

In March 2022, the Catoctin High School (CHS) Mock Trial team closed out a fantastic undefeated season, winning the Frederick County Mock Trial championship and ending the season as quarter finalists in the state tournament.

Mock Trial is an academic competition where teams of high school students from different schools undertake the roles of legal teams and witnesses. Different students act as witnesses and attorneys to argue their side’s case in front of a real attorney. It is a mix of debate and theater.

Coach Stephen Cree said, “The kids had the first undefeated season in the last 25 years for CHS. They deserve recognition.”

Congratulations for the hard work and dedication of the team, their success shines a light on a rather unknown but incredibly interesting academic competition in Frederick County Public Schools.

This championship photo was taken directly after the CHS Mock Trial Team won the CMC championship match: (from left) Julia Wivell, Audrey Sare, Caleigh Sare, Brad Hofmann, Sean Whitworth, Nick Miller, Justin Clair, coach Stephen Cree, and Mia Ferraro.

Attention graduating seniors! Are you related to a graduate from Thurmont High School or Catoctin High School up through the class of 1974? Are you looking for a scholarship?

Check the Community Foundation of Frederick County website at for the scholarships offered by the Thurmont High School Alumni Association. Applications are being accepted from March 1 through March 31, 2022, only.

Seniors, remind your parents, grandparents, and their friends that the Thurmont High School Alumni banquet will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the Thurmont Event Complex. Any questions, call 301-418-1760 or email [email protected].

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 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 Stephanie Steinly no later than April 8. They can be mailed to Lion Stephanie Steinly, 24 Lombard Street, Thurmont, MD  21788. Please include “2022 Teacher of the Year” on the subject line if emailing.

Forms are available online at or by contacting Stephanie Steinly at [email protected]

The Thurmont Lions Club 2022 Teacher of the Year will be selected from the finalists by a committee of community leaders and will be announced at the Thurmont Lions Club’s Education Night meeting on May 11, 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact Lion Stephanie Steinly at [email protected] or 301-271-3268.

The dedication of the First Baptist Church of Thurmont’s portable classroom building was held on Sunday, January 30. Director Bruce Conley, Blue Ridge Baptist Association, and Pastor Jay Beard consecrated the building with a prayer of dedication and thanksgiving to God and pronounced it the Family Life Center. 

The building will house the First Baptist Church of Thurmont’s kids and youth ministries, as well as serve as a place for church gatherings and meetings. The church is located at 7 Sunny Way in Thurmont. 

For more information, visit the website at

This spotlight will continue for a few months until all who submit are published. Please email your student’s name and phone number to [email protected] to be included.

Dylan Wangness

Dylan Wangness played in both the football and baseball state championship games. He also runs track, and, at the print of this edition of The Catoctin Banner, was at the state championships in Easton, Maryland, for track as a sprinter, running the 4×2 with Layne Stull, Brody Buffington, and Joshua Glass. This team had the best time for Class 1A schools going into the state competition.

Dylan’s favorite high school memory is the football state championship game because football has always been his main sport. He said, “When I was younger and would watch Catoctin play, I dreamed of playing on that field. Then, when I actually got there [to high school], I thought it would be so cool to win the state championships. I got the opportunity to, and we did it.”

In school, he stayed on the honor roll and participated in the ROAR Club, Outdoor Club, and Crazies Club. He logged service hours at Rocky’s, team breakfasts, and Glory Days serving food. Dylan works seasonally at Scenic View Orchard in Sabillasville.

While at Catoctin, he’s attended CTC for HVAC and plumbing. He’s hoping to have a job in HVAC and plumbing after graduation. In preparation, he’s going to job fairs and networking. He’s also going to state championship for Skills USA for HVAC and plumbing in April.

In his free time, Dylan spends time with friends, plays video games, rides four-wheelers, and enjoys fishing and hunting.

To the community, Dylan said, “Thanks for supporting all the opportunities through four years of high school that helped me become the man I am today.”

Layne Stull

Layne Stull feels his high school career accomplishments are winning the state championship in baseball, competing in state championships for track (despite not ever running track prior to his senior year and running the 4×2 relay), and maintaining good grades throughout high school, even in AP classes. He’s played football, baseball, and ran track for Catoctin.

He’s grateful for the little things in the high school experience like walking the halls with friends, sitting in the parking lot with friends, and just hanging out.

His hobbies are hunting, fishing, and playing paintball. He’s always worked on the farm, throwing straw and planting/picking crops.

After graduation, Layne plans to attend Hagerstown Community College, and eventually enter the police force with the ultimate goal of becoming a detective.

Layne’s message to the community is: “Tell everyone to keep on keeping on and never give up on whatever they want to do. Everything is achievable. I want to thank everyone in the community for being supportive to the school, me and my friends, and our athletic teams, of course.”

Wyatt Davis

Wyatt Davis is the Catoctin High School Class of 2022’s salutatorian. Wyatt’s dream was to play football at Penn State, and he was accepted academically, but an injury to his foot during his sophomore football season led to foot surgery and two screws in his foot.

That was a brief setback for a determined Wyatt. While also playing basketball, baseball, and throwing shot put in track, he started training during his junior year to become a better offensive lineman in football. He trained and attended camps and recruiting events for exposure to college recruiters. His training paid off. He has committed to Shippensburg University to play football for the next four years.

Wyatt has participated in school clubs. He’s not just in the National Honor Society, he’s in the Spanish, Math, and Science Honor Societies, also.

His favorite high school memory was winning the football state championship as a sophomore. He said, “The community support and school support through that was unreal.”

He works on his family’s small beef cattle farm in Emmitsburg. Between that, football, 4-H, and FFA, you could find him volunteering often. After training for football as a customer with Hawg Performance, Wyatt serves as a mentor to Hawg’s 4th-6th grade youngsters.

Wyatt said, “I would like to thank everybody for their support with our athletic teams and for always believing in us even though times were rough. Everyone still came out and supported us. Thanks to all the people who pushed me to be in the position I am today.” He added, “I would like to thank God for all of the Glory of this event. He’s the real reason I’m in this position.”

Wyatt Davis, Dylan Wangness, and Layne Stull

Photo of the three friends after their last high school football game

Close friends, Layne Stull, Wyatt Davis, and Dylan Wangness started out playing flag football together in elementary school and continued playing sports together through middle school and high school. Layne took two years off from football but came back this past season, so all three seniors could play together. Dylan and Wyatt played the CHS football state championship their sophomore year. All three participated in state championships during their high school careers, even achieving more than one state championship in that time in other sports, baseball and track.

After receiving the last and final approval from the Frederick County Board of Education in December 2021, Sabillasville Environmental School has been moving forward with plans to open it’s doors at the start of the 2022/23 school year at the current Sabillasville Elementary School building.

On January 23, 2022, the school opened up enrollment to all Frederick County residents in grades K-6 (7th and 8th grades will be added in the second and third years of operation).

The deadline to enroll is March 11, 2022. Seats will be filled through a lottery process being held on March 21.

For more information, visit

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded scholarships worth over $100,000 to area students! Scholarships are available to all graduating high school 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 (see FCPS District Map at website:

Mary and Robert Remsberg Memorial Scholarship Award

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.

Bernhard “Bernie” Cohen Memorial Scholarship Award

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


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 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, 2022.

The successful applicant and their 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

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin High School (CHS) recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 6th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony in November 2021.

Principal Jennifer Clements told the audience, “Catoctin High School is a place of deep roots and strong traditions. Our history is so rich because of the incredible staff and students who have walked these halls, making a positive impact on our school and our community.”

It is that tradition and those people that the school celebrates with its Distinguished Graduate Program. The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization was formed in 2015 to honor alumni in the areas of academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

The 2021 program recognized alumni from the arts and humanities, academics, and public service sectors. It also recognized two former CHS staff members.

Former teacher, John Koepke, taught, coached, and advised students at CHS for 35 years. During the program, he passed on some advice from his father to the students in attendance. “Life is full of cool moments. Enjoy the cool moments.”

He also shared some advice from Dr. Jack Graham, a Texas pastor, and it was to PACE yourself through life. However, Koepke added his own words for the acronym.

Patience helps peace.

Acceptance helps attitude.

Confidence helps commitment.

Embrace encouragement.

Rebecca Chaney, Class of 1982, was the arts and entertainment inductee. She is an author, speaker, and livestock and dairy judging coach. Her twin daughters, Sheridan and Rianna Chaney, who are seniors at CHS introduced their mother.

“You need to remember to dream big,” Cheney told the students. “Never waver from your dream and goals. With hard work and determination, you can achieve incredible things in this life.”

Brian Haines, Class of 2000, was the academics inductee. He is currently an assistant principal scientist at Merck, working in regulatory affairs.

He told the students not to give up on their goals. However, you need to work to make them happen. “Dig in just a little harder and not give up after setting a goal,” Haines said.

Maria Smaldone, Class of 2010, was the public service inductee. Her professional career has been spent in social work, and she is currently the senior neighborhood resource coordinator at Neighborhood Housing Services in Baltimore. Her sister, Raphaela Smaldone, a CHS senior, introduced her.

She said, “My normal is probably not your normal…considering someone’s context (their normal) is critical to understanding their thoughts, their feelings, and their motivations.” She added that this understanding will help bridge “trust gaps” between people of different backgrounds. She urged the students to get to know someone with a different normal and listen to them and learn from them.

She also told students not to, “pigeonhole yourself too soon into what you think you’re good at or what you think is good for you. There are so many other things out there, and you are capable of so many other things than you can give yourself credit for.”

Curtis Howser, a former industrial arts teacher and school counselor for 44 years, was another former CHS staff inductee. He served as a counselor at CHS for 18 years.

He said. “Be part of the solution rather than someone who just talks about it.”

Pictured from left are: (standing) Curtis Howser, John Koepke, and Bryan Haines; (seated) Maria Smaldone and Rebecca Chaney.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

The Thurmont Grange #409 recently presented dictionaries to all third-grade students at Lewistown Elementary School. This is a community service project called “Words for Thirds” and all of the third grade students in the Catoctin feeder system have also received dictionaries (Sabillasville, Lewistown, Thurmont, and Emmitsburg Elementary Schools).

The Grange is an agricultural organization, which is deeply rooted in the community. Many of its members are farmers, business men and women, and its focus is on community service, legislation, education, and agriculture.  Many of our members hold local, county, and state offices to promote the Grange.

Every year, the Grange helps at events such as the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, the Frederick Fair (where we put in an exhibit at the Farm and Garden Building), the Catoctin Colorfest, and the annual Cookie Walk in December, to name a few. The Grange holds a Veterans’ Appreciation Night in October, and has also donated funds and items to the Thurmont Food Bank, Catoctin FFA, Boy Scouts, Catoctin Safe and Sane, and so forth. 

The dictionary has many features, such as the history of the Presidents of the United States, the solar system, sign language, and also the longest word in the United States.

Lewistown Elementary—Shown presenting the dictionaries are: (back row) Cheryl Lenhart, Thurmont Grange member, and Principal Belinda Fockler; (front row) Mila Davis, Lauren Hunter, Mady French, Grace Cassella, Olive Rinker, and Brayden Lovejoy, all third-grade students at Lewistown Elementary School.

Thurmont Elementary—(front row) Thurmont Elementary School third-graders, Alayna Conrad, McKinnly Glotfelty, Connor McGrew, Owen Ott, and Jaiden Poole; (back row) Grange members, Jodi Eyler, Rodman Myers, Karl Williams (TES Principal), Carol Long, Sue Keilholtz, and Nancy Wine.

Emmitsburg Elementary— Robert Wiles, Shane Baker, Emily McMahan, Sophia Myers, Jaxon Reaver, and Amber Madigan (Principal).

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 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!!”