Currently viewing the tag: "Catoctin High School (CHS)"

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the Thurmont Lions Club honored two students at its Education Night program. Each year, the club presents a Lion Award to a Catoctin High School (CHS) student and a Junior Lion Award to a Thurmont Middle School (TMS) student who has volunteered the most hours.  Each student is presented with a certificate and a check.

The Junior Lion Award was presented to a Thurmont Middle School eighth grader, Morgan “Mo” Baker, who earned his service learning hours at the 4-H Shooting Sports Club. He volunteered throughout middle school on a regular basis, recruiting and educating the public about 4-H shooting sports and gun safety. He has sold raffle tickets, participated in clean up days, and sold food at events.

When asked about his service learning, Mo indicated it gave him something good to do with his time. He also learned some construction skills while volunteering. During his years in middle school, he earned a total of 258 hours of service, which is the highest number of hours for any eighth grader.

The Lion Award was presented to Catoctin High School senior, Noah Barth.  During his four years at Catoctin High School, he has accumulated a very impressive 1,075.5 hours of service. Noah has served as a camp counselor at Camp Round Top for the Your Farmers Safety Camp for the past four years.   In addition, Noah has served in a variety of service roles with Catoctin’s award-winning FFA organization, led by Amy Jo Poffenberger; as a volunteer at the Frederick County soup kitchen; and as the manager of the CHS football team for the past three years. Noah has also helped with the CHS unified tennis team for the past two years, under the direction of Coach Charmane Nesbit, and has been a member of the CHS varsity tennis team for the past four years, under the direction of Coach David Gadra. 

Pictured from left are Lion George Bolling, Noah Barth, TLC President Julie El-Taher.

The award-winning documentary Heroin’s Grip is scheduled to be shown at Catoctin High School, located at 14745 Sabillasville Road in Thurmont, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. This free event is open to the public and is sponsored by The Town of Thurmont, The Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC), and FUSE Teen Center.

 Heroin’s Grip tells the story about the heroin and opioid epidemic from the viewpoint of those on the front lines of this national crisis. The film features a Thurmont family and other Frederick County families whose lives have been affected and forever changed by addiction, and includes stories from those currently using, people in recovery, as well as perspectives from law enforcement, healthcare workers, judges, prosecutors, and others who deal with people in this crisis every day. Ultimately, the film gives hope for the user and for the families who’ve been affected.

The film is produced and directed by Emmitsburg resident, Conrad Weaver.  The first lesson Conrad Weaver learned about heroin, as he worked to produce his new film Heroin’s Grip, was that no one is immune. Addiction captures rich and poor alike.

As one reviewer writes, “This movie is so relevant to what families are experiencing across our country. Anyone with a child should see this film. How do we keep our kids from falling into addiction? Heroin’s Grip will put it into perspective for you.”

Maryland currently ranks as the sixth deadliest state for drug overdoses.  During 2018, there were 55 fatal opioid-related overdoses, and 279 non-fatal overdoses in Frederick County alone. Within the United States, there were over 72,000 opiod-related deaths in 2017.  This is an epidemic that spans across all ages, races, and economic groups. This film gives the viewer a view of the crisis from all perspectives. 

All ages are encouraged to attend. Donations of canned foods will be accepted for the local food bank.

For more information about Heroin’s Grip, visit Follow us online at

Theresa Dardanell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Each year, high schools in Frederick County are invited to choose one of their students to receive the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County.” The purpose of the award is to honor students who are helping to make our world a better place by promoting the values of peacemaking, conflict resolution, and respect for all people. This year, all eleven public high schools and two private high schools in Frederick County selected a student to receive the award.

The award comes with a $200 check for the student, and a $100 contribution to the charity of the student’s choice. Eliza chose Heartly House, which provides comprehensive services for victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse, rape/sexual assault, and child abuse.

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

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

James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin High School (CHS) recognized its graduates who had gone on to find success post-high school during its 4th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 20, 2018.

“We’re here to connect the future with the past,” said Teacher Mike Franklin.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were the freshmen and senior classes at CHS. They were the future that Franklin wanted to show what can be accomplished by graduates from the school. Many of the graduates said that when they were students, they wouldn’t have believed that they would be honored as a distinguished scholar. However, they had applied themselves in their chosen fields, seeking to do the best work. It was an effort that succeeded for them in academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

This year’s ceremony was dedicated to the memory of 1LT Robert Seidel, a member of the CHS Class of 2000, who was killed in Baghdad in 2006.

Besides graduates from the school, former staff members Gail Slezak and Earl Miller were also recognized for the impact they had on the lives of Catoctin students. Slezak was a music teacher at CHS when it opened in 1969.

“I was eager to meet the challenge of creating a music program here at Catoctin High School,” Slezak said. In 1970, Music Theory students actually wrote the school’s alma mater using skills that she taught them.

Miller was the principal of CHS from 1984-1996. He called his time at the school, “the most significant chapter of my career,” in part, because he was shaping the school in his own community.

“The decisions you are making in high school will shape the life you will live later as an adult,” Miller told the students.

Kerry Dingle, Class of 2001, was the academics inductee. She is an appellate litigator with the Securities and Exchange Commission, protecting investors from financial fraud. She gave the students some tips on understanding and taking control of their finances. It is only in doing that, she said, that they would be able to build the life they wanted.

Justin Albright, Class of 2009, was one of the athletics inductees. Although his athletic skill helped him earn a college degree, today he works as a software engineer. He told the students to be true to themselves and have patience.

“Good things will come to you as long as you continue working hard and continue doing the right things,” Albright said.

Sean Reaver, Class of 2001, was also an athletics inductee. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate now serving in the Marine Corps, Reaver urged students to set their goals high and to not be afraid of failure because it would help them learn and get better.

Craig Mayne, Class of 1996, was the business inductee. Mayne, who owns the Ace Hardware store in Thurmont, recounted some of his personal struggles and struggles as a student. He told them that they don’t necessarily need to attend a fancy college to be successful, but they do need to work hard and strive to be the best that they can be.

Randy Waesche, Jr., Class of 1972, was the public service inductee. An active member of many community organizations, Waesche urged the students not to coast but to push themselves to do more.

David Ammenheuser, Class of 1980, was the arts and humanities inductee. He told the students that adults don’t have all the answers, but they are there to listen and help. However, the students also need to listen and absorb what knowledge they can to figure out the answers to their questions.

Principal Bernie Quesada noted that the inductees and their achievements were part of what helped make CHS a “landmark of success.”

The pictured CHS Distinguished Graduate inductees are: (from left) Gail Slezak; Craig Moyne; David Ammenheuser; Sean Reaver; Randy Waesche, Jr.; Kerry Dingle; Earl Miller; and Justin Albright.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.


In honor of the 50th anniversary of Catoctin High School (CHS), the football and cheerleading teams are pleased to announce that at the October 26, 2018, game, they will be inviting their past players and members to walk out at half-time and be recognized by graduation year as honored alumni of CHS programs. They are excited to invite the community to join in the celebration of the school’s sports history, as well as watching this year’s Cougars beat Clear Spring on their march to playoffs 2018. Go, Cougars!

Theresa Dardanell

After a first place win at the Frederick County Envirothon competition, the Catoctin High School (CHS) team placed sixth (out of seventeen teams) at the state competition in June at the Maryland 4-H Environmental Education and Camping Center in Garrett County.  In the Wildlife competition, they were awarded second place.

The members of the CHS team, named The Primary Successors, were Zack Carter, Samantha Grimes, Edison Hatter, Jimmy Kempisty, and Devin Shorb. With the help of advisors April Wells and Ron Albaugh, the five seniors (now graduates) prepared for the competition that included tests in five areas: aquatics, forestry, soil, wildlife, and a fifth topic that changes every year (this year, it was rangeland management).

The students met not only during school hours but also on their own time to learn as much as possible about each topic. Preparation included absorbing information from books, diagrams, field guides, and websites, as well as hands-on training. When I met with the students during one of their practice sessions at the school, they were preparing for the aquatics test by identifying various fish. They know and rely on each other’s strengths during testing. Wells said that they each take one part of the exam and then work together to finalize their answers. It was obvious that they work well together as a team and that they have fun at the same time.

Pictured from left are Edison Hatter, Devin Shorb, Samantha Grimes, Jimmy Kempisty, and Zach Carter.

During the Thurmont Lions Club Education Night ceremony on May 9, 2018, four scholarships were awarded to Catoctin High School (CHS) seniors.  Three scholarships are awarded competitively based on academic achievement, participation activities, and financial need. These students not only achieved honors, but also spent many hours performing volunteer work, along with participating in a wide variety of activities. Community service is one of the most popular extracurricular activities for high school students to do in their free time. These volunteer hours are very impressive when your application is reviewed for college acceptance.

Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Cameron Hewitt, who will be attending the University of Maryland; Avie Hopcraft, who will be attending Baylor University; and Sean Miller, who will be attending Rensselaer Polytech Institute.

Hannah Barth, recipient of the Vic Jagow Scholarship, was awarded $1,250 for her fourth year of a four-year scholarship. She will be attending the University of Wisconsin. The student receives the scholarship for four consecutive years, depending on grade-point average

These scholarships are made possible from the Community Birthday Calendar fundraiser that has been granting these scholarships for over forty-six years. These deserving seniors and the Thurmont Lions Club thank supporters for their generosity.

Catoctin High School (CHS) has formed a 50th anniversary planning committee. The committee members are looking for memorabilia from the last fifty years that can be photographed, scanned, and/or displayed in the school for the 2018-2019 school year. The lobby will be “rejuvenated” this summer to display items from each decade. This is a GREAT opportunity to share your fondest memories from your high school years with the current generation!

In addition to the above, families where multiple generations have graduated from CHS, visit to find out how to contribute to this celebration this year!

The Student Government Association of Catoctin High School will present several activities to celebrate the anniversary. Look for a 50th anniversary table and display during the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show in September 2018. On October 5, 2018, a reception will be held for alumni in the school’s cafeteria before the CHS Homecoming football game. On this evening, CHS alumni will receive student-priced admission to the Homecoming game.

The CHS Sports Boosters will also host activities to commemorate the anniversary. Stay tuned for details about these and more upcoming events and activities that commemorate the school’s anniversary.

Congratulations to the Catoctin High School (CHS) students who competed in the 2018 Maryland State SkillsUSA contests held on April 13-14, 2018.

Once again, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) students performed extremely well, earning 22 gold medals, 19 silver medals, 7 bronze medals, and 2 voting delegates.

All first-place gold medal winners have earned the right to represent Maryland and compete in the SkillsUSA National Competition (in Louisville, Kentucky) in late June.

Cheyenne Scobie—1st, TV Multimedia Broadcast News Production; Olivia Dart—1st, CAD Career Pathways Showcase: Manufacturing; Samantha Smith—1st, Cosmetology Nail Care (Contestant); Dalton Wine—Automotive Tech Voting Delegate; Isaac Storer—1st, Web Design Web Design;

Nathan Schwartzbeck—1st, Ag Metals Welding Fabrication; Rachel Burns—2nd, CAD Career Pathways Showcase: Arts, Audiovisual Tech and Communication; Emma Appel—2nd, TV Multimedia Television (Video) Production; Keegan Coolidge—3rd, AOHP First Aid/CPR; Kaleb Sellers—3rd, Digital Design Screen Printing Technology. Way to go, Cougars!


Theresa Dardanell

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

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

Cast of Auntie Mame.

Tech Crew members for Auntie Mame.

The Catoctin High School (CHS) Sports Boosters will hold its 9th Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 2, 2017, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the CHS Cafeteria.

Cougar apparel, blankets, stadium seats, hats, and miscellaneous novelty items will be available for your Christmas shopping. There will be light refreshments.  Payment may be made by cash, check, or credit card for Sports Boosters items. Organizations within CHS and sports teams will be invited to have their current fundraisers available for your Holiday purchases (cash or check will be accepted by each individual group or team).

For more information, please contact Bob Marlow at 443-829-3809.

Theresa Dardanell

Everyone who attended the Free Community Meal at Catoctin High School (CHS) on April 11, 2017, enjoyed pizza, pasta, garlic rolls, salad, and cake. The dinner was provided at minimal cost by Rocky’s Restaurant in Thurmont, and the cakes were donated by Trinity United Church of Christ.  The CHS Outreach Committee sponsored this event to show unity and to bring people in the community together. Susan Weaver, CHS guidance counselor and Outreach Committee chairperson, said that many of the students, school staff, and families, in the Catoctin feeder area, attended the dinner. It was a time to relax and enjoy the company of neighbors and friends. Tables were set up with activities for children and teens. The “smaller kiddo activities” table had coloring books, Easter craft activities, markers, and pencils; the “bigger kiddo activities” table had board games.

Weaver said that the first community dinner, which was held in the fall, was a great success. She shared a heartwarming story with me.  During that dinner, a couple sat down with a woman who was sitting alone. Because it was close to Thanksgiving, they asked her what she was doing for the holiday. She began to cry and said that she had nowhere to go. They immediately invited her to have dinner at their home. Food really does bring people together!

The Outreach Committee also has a BFF (Backpacks For Food) program to provide food on the weekends for students who might otherwise go hungry. Each week, food donated by parents, staff, students, and community organizations is collected, sorted, and packed in backpacks by volunteers. These backpacks are distributed to about sixty students at Catoctin High, Thurmont Middle, Sabillasville Elementary, and Thurmont Elementary.

Friends and Neighbors enjoy a Free Community Meal at Catoctin High School

Theresa Dardanell

Catoctin High School (CHS) is one of four Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) high schools chosen to participate in the One-To-One Device pilot program, in which all students receive a Chromebook to use at school. Students have the option to also take the Chromebooks home or choose the “bring your own device” option and use their own devices, to include laptops, tablets, or smartphones, at school as well as at home.

A Chromebook is similar to a laptop but is designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet. Most applications and documents “live in” the cloud.

CHS English Teacher Kathy Herrmann explained that her students work with Google Classroom. This web service allows students to check assignments, get extra help, and communicate with the teacher at school and at home. She also uses websites like Kahoot and Quizlet, which promote interaction between students in class.

CHS Media Specialist Kate Mills said that students have many databases and reference books available online; with the Chromebook, they can access them at any time, instead of just during computer lab. Teachers incorporate “acceptable and responsible use of the internet” as a part of their lessons.

Assistant Principal Kelly Kirby said that because the students are enthusiastic about using technology, the teachers can redirect that interest into their instructions. Lessons have been redesigned for online use, and teachers were given training on how to use online resources. “The response to the One-To-One program has been positive for teachers and students.”

Students in Kathy Herrmann’s class use Chromebooks, with the website Kahoot.

Catoctin High School (CHS) is back at it again! CHS Art Teacher Laura Day’s students entered the 2017 Vans Custom Culture Contest for a second time. Last year, CHS placed in the Top 50 in this national contest, and they hope to make it again to the second round, which is the public voting stage.

Public voting is open, and you can cast your vote until May 10, at 5:00 p.m. Voting can be done by visiting the and clicking on Catoctin H.S. under the Northeast Region.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization of Catoctin High School (CHS) is accepting nominations for the 2017 awards. 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.

Nomination forms can be picked up in the front office of CHS or be downloaded online at and submitted by May 1, 2017. Nominees will then be provided with an application form.

Applications must be submitted by June 1, 2017, and award recipients will be selected and notified by June 15. The 2017 Distinguished Graduate Award Ceremony will be held at 10:00 a.m. during the school day on November 21, 2017.

Each year, senior and freshman class members at Catoctin High School (CHS) are invited to the school’s annual Distinguished Graduate Honoree Induction Ceremony that takes place during school. The Distinguished Graduate Organization, made up of retired and current CHS staff members, started the program last year as a means to show students their potential by allowing them to meet and hear about former graduates of CHS who have made a significant impact on others. One graduate is recognized each year in the categories of Academics, Arts & Humanities, Athletics, Business, Public Service, and former Catoctin Staff Members.

On November 22, 2016, the ceremony was held. The National Anthem was sung by Mr. Richard Troxell, Lily Bean made introductions, and CHS Principal Bernard Quesada gave opening remarks. Current ninth and twelfth grade students introduced each of the inductees.

Tyler Jessee introduced the Former Catoctin Staff Member Honoree, Ann Bonitatibus. Dr. Bonitatibus began her career as an English and math teacher at Middletown High School, then became assistant principal at Frederick and TJ High Schools. She advanced to become principal at New Market Middle, then principal at Catoctin High from 2001-2005. Before being appointed superintendent for the Conejo Valley Unified School District in California in July of 2015, she served several roles within the Frederick County Public Schools system, including director of High Schools, associate superintendent of Secondary Schools, and chief operating officer. Through all of these diverse roles, she created forward-focused visions that were supported by school communities.

Dr. Bonitatibus talked about her experiences at Catoctin, in relation to other jobs she’s held. She shared a timely message about freedom of expression, which was relevant to current times, with the presidential elections taking place.

Phoenix Staub introduced Academics Inductee Joshua Ballew, Catoctin Class of 2003. Dr. Ballew is one smart man! He graduated valedictorian for his graduating class, was awarded the Outstanding Senior Scholar award his senior year, and named a Maryland Distinguished Scholar finalist and National Merit Commended Scholar. He graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, with a bachelor’s degree and a double major in mathematics and physics in 2007. He served as a teaching assistant in the Department of Mathematics and earned departmental awards in both the physics and mathematics departments. He was inducted into the college’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

He continued his education by earning his PhD from the University of Maryland College Park in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Scientific Computation, with his dissertation entitled Mathematical Topics in Fluid Particle Interaction. He is currently a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, where he continues his research into fluid-particle interaction models and teaches various college math courses. Dr. Ballew has been published in several peer-reviewed journals. Interestingly, he’s written questions for the Frederick County Academic Tournament.

A humble man, Dr. Ballew talked to the students about his time at Catoctin, and his experiences throughout his education.

Taylor Crum introduced the Public Service Honoree, James “Jim” K. Hamrick, CHS Class of 1981. Jim and his wife, Pamela, reside in Thurmont and enjoy visits from their four grown children and six growing young granddaughters. Jim and Pam enjoy “two-wheel therapy,” while riding motorcycles and participating in the charitable Hogs and Heroes Motorcycle Foundation of America.

While attending the University of Maryland as an engineering student, Jim opted for a vocational change to law enforcement. He began this career as a University of Maryland Police Officer, graduating the police academy in 1985. Over the next twenty-five years, he rose in rank to Major and obtained a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland in 2000. In February of 2011, Jim was hired as the chief administrative officer at the Maryland police and Correctional Training Commissions in Sykesville, Maryland. As of July 2016, he now serves as the chief of police at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.

Outside of law enforcement, Jim is involved in the community. He is a life member and Chaplain of both the Guardian Hose Company and the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service. He served for several years as a founding member of the Board of Directors of The Source Christian Radio AM 1450, WTHU. Jim is also an ordained pastor, and the founding pastor of St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lewistown.

Jim’s message to the students was that life is full of twists and turns, but living in service is a very fulfilling path.

Owen Bubczyk introduced the Athletics Inductee, Kathy Messner Stevens, CHS Class of 1998. Kathy is a true inspiration. Two weeks after graduating from Catoctin, she was driving a vehicle that was hit from behind and pushed into the on-going path of a tractor trailer. The near-fatal auto accident almost left her paralyzed. It is truly awesome to listen to the experiences of this great athlete, who transferred her drive to succeed into a drive to survive and thrive. The physical devastation of the auto accident could only be met head-on with true grit and faith as she battled to recover from a broken neck, fractured back, ruptured spleen, and punctured lung, among other injuries.

Prior to the accident, Kathy was a champion athlete: a two-time national high jump champion; twelve-time Maryland State Champion; county champion; and held MVAL, regional, and championship titles. To this day, she holds state records for high jump and triple jump.

Before the accident, she had earned a full athletic scholarship to Penn State University. After intense rehabilitation and physical therapy, Kathy joined the Penn State Track and Field team seven months after her accident. She competed all four years, and served as team captain her senior year. She met, or bettered, her high school performances in the jumping events and earned the Nittany Lion True Grit Award.

In 2012, she was inducted into the Alvin G. Quinn Frederick County Sports Hall of Fame. She is currently a private coach, and assists at Oakdale High School. She has also coached for the Catoctin Youth Association and Catoctin High School

Kathy’s degree from Penn State was in Kinesiology. She’s currently earning her Master’s Degree in transpersonal psychology from Atlantic University. She owns her own hypnotherapy and massage business, Transform & Revive, LLC in Woodsboro, Maryland.

Kathy’s message to the students was very inspirational, siting faith and the unwavering support of her mother and her late father to sustain the “true grit” she exemplifies in her achievements. Kathy has a nine-year-old son, Zachary Evan.

Adam Fields introduced the Business Inductee, Deb Abraham Spalding. A common path for graduates of CHS may be to attend Frederick Community College and then move on to a four-year college. Deb did this, graduating from Towson State University with a B.S. in Physical Education and concentration in sports management. That degree allowed her to pursue the profession of providing recreation services, which she did while serving as recreation superintendent with Frederick County Parks and Recreation.

In 2003, she resigned from Parks and Recreation to start her own business. She is currently the publisher and owner of the local newspaper, The Catoctin Banner, and owner of E Plus Copy Center and Promotions in Emmitsburg. She has also coached field hockey and basketball for various organizations.

Deb related to the students by identifying similarities they all experience as students at Catoctin. While a student at Catoctin, Deb was vice president of her sophomore class and president of her junior class. She played field hockey, basketball, and tennis, and participated in chorus and school musicals. She was raised on the mountain in Foxville, attended Sabillasville Elementary School, and then Thurmont Middle School.

She is a graduate of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Frederick County Program, attended Oglebay School of Management, and completed coursework towards a Master’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management at Frostburg University.

She has two children, Lydia (CHS Class of 2015) and Hayden (current CHS junior) and lives in Thurmont.

Hannah Belt introduced the Arts & Humanities Inductee, the greatly talented, internationally-known lyric tenor, Richard Troxell, Class of 1979. Richard has been thrilling audiences with his beautiful voice in leading roles in opera houses and on concert stages around the world.

His career skyrocketed when he appeared as Pinkerton in Martin Scorcese’s film version of Madame Butterfly in 1996. Not your normal opera singer, Richard’s career has ranged from being a recurring guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to climbing out of the sewers of Seville as Don Jose at Sydney Opera House in Carmen, to singing the National Anthem for Major League Baseball games to completing his latest CD, Classic Broadway.

In October of 2015, Richard sang and danced his way on to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, debuting in Michael Mayer’s “Rat Pack” production of Rigoletto while at the same time covering the road of Der Maler in Lulu and Alfred in Die Fledermaus.

Richard started singing at the age of four, along with his parents, belting out Broadway tunes at Lions Club benefits and singing hymns in the church choir. He received his operatic training at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He currently resides in the countryside of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Lisa Lovelace, who is a dancer and choreographer, and their two sons, Wilder and Shane.

His message to the students was that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Catoctin is a great place to start.

For more information about his program or to submit the name of a nomination for a future distinguished graduate, please email Keith Bruck at


The 2016 Distinguished Graduates are: (from left) Deb Abraham Spalding, Business Honoree; Dr. Ann Bonitatibus, Staff Honoree; Richard Troxell, Arts & Humanities Honoree; Kathy Messner Stevens, Athletics Honoree; James Hamrick, Public Service Honoree; and Joshua Ballew, Academics Honoree.

The Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association (EHSAA) is pleased to announce the winners of their annual EHSAA scholarship program. Four $1,000 scholarships are awarded each year. However, this year an additional $1,000 scholarship was awarded, thanks to an anonymous gift from a member of the Class of 1965. It was given in memory of all those deceased in that class (Kenny Krom, John Wagerman, David Naill, Clyde Hahn, Joseph Beale, Robert Ulrich, Gary Valentine, and Suellen Knipple Barbe).

The scholarship applicants were judged on involvement in school and community activities. Their academic work, financial need, and honors were also considered, along with their work experience.

The four scholarship recipients are graduating seniors at Catoctin High School (CHS) and were recognized at the school’s annual awards ceremony on May 31, 2016. Megan Millison, daughter of Sheri Wetzel and Phillip Millison, plans to attend Salisbury University and get a Master’s Degree in social work to help trauma patients. Maya Swiderski, daughter of Deborah Wivell and William Swiderski, plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania to start her degree to become a veterinarian. Kayla Umbel, daughter of Chad and Sandy Umbel, plans to attend Virginia Tech to study in their dairy science program. Marah Williams, daughter of Richard and Joan Williams plans to attend Towson University to become an audiologist.

The fifth recipient is Taylor E. Shank, a former graduate of CHS, currently attending Clemson University, working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. She is the daughter of Duane and Anita Shank.

All recipients will be recognized at the Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association’s 92nd Annual Banquet, to be held October 15, 2016.

Mike Franklin, a health and physical education teacher at Catoctin High School (CHS), was formally presented the 2016 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award by Hood College during its graduate school commencement on May 14, 2016.

Sponsored by Hood College, this award is presented each May to a Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) teacher who has had a significant impact on young people.

Franklin learned that he is this year’s honoree when the FCPS “Prize Patrol,” led by Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Markoe, visited him at Catoctin High School. The central office and school administrators and staff, as well as students, were present to congratulate him.

Principal Bernard Quesada nominated Mr. Franklin for the award on behalf of Catoctin High. He cited Mr. Franklin’s twenty years as a “shining example for all children that he works with, either in his classes; as a baseball coach; or in his youth camps, working with elementary school students,” adding that Mr. Franklin’s “leadership and positive impact in our school is immeasurable….His ethical foundation has influenced thousands of children in our community,” wrote Mr. Quesada. “Mike Franklin is a driving positive force for students long after they leave the halls and fields of Catoctin High School.”

Catoctin school counselor Dana Brashear agreed that Mr. Franklin is an extraordinary teacher.  “Mike Franklin is the backbone of Catoctin High School. He has been a teacher and coach for twenty years and has impacted thousands of students….He combines lessons with character-building opportunities.”

Mr. Franklin has spent his entire teaching career, since 1996, at Catoctin High. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University, and completed his master’s in exercise science from McDaniel College. He is taking education administration courses from the University of Phoenix.

He has been the head coach of CHS baseball since 2000, and is on the Virtual School leadership team, the Frederick County PE Council, and PBIS Leadership team. He is the CHS baseball summer camp director, and formed the Frederick County Baseball Coaches Association in 2012. He also started the CHS Fired Up Friday program.

The late Samuel Eig of Gaithersburg, Maryland, established the Tressler Award to recognize Dr. Tressler, a Giles professor emeritus of early childhood education, who taught at the college from 1964 to 1990. Dr. Tressler chaired Hood’s Education Department for eighteen years and served on the school’s graduate school council for twelve years.


Mike Franklin is pictured with FCPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Markoe (left) and FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban (right) at Catoctin High School, after learning that he is the 2016 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award honoree.

Courtesy Photo

Six Catoctin High School Seniors Sign College Letters of Intent

Six seniors at Catoctin High School (CHS) eagerly awaited to sign the documents that would soon take them off to their next step in their athletic and educational careers. As proud family, friends, and coaches poured into the high school’s gymnasium on February 29, 2016, CHS Athletic Director Kevin Macmullen handed out pens to each student in preparation. As the students began to sign, their coaches (Valentine, Franklin, Williams, and Olsen) remembered star moments of each individual and spoke of how proud they were of each one of their athletes.

Katie Shugars will be attending Frederick Community College and playing on the Women’s Softball team. Kristen Fox will be attending Stevenson University in Maryland, playing on the Women’s Soccer team. Four seniors will be moving onto a college football program: Noah Dell, attending Frostburg State University; Payne Harrison, attending Mercyhurst University; CJ Simmers, attending Juniata College; and Braden Thomson, attending Bridgewater College.


Pictured from left are seniors Katie Shugars, Kristen Fox, Payne Harrison, CJ Simmers, Braden Thomson, and Noah Dell.

Thurmont Middle School PTA to Award Two Scholarships

The Thurmont Middle School (TMS) PTA is awarding two scholarships to qualified Catoctin High School seniors. You must apply by Friday, April 29, 2016. Applicant must have attended TMS for one full school year. View the advertisement on page 6 for more details.

Thurmont’s Masonic Lodge #155 Offering Two Scholarships

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded scholarships worth over $75,000 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.

Scholarship application forms are available at the Catoctin High School guidance office and at the Thurmont Regional Library.

Interested students must complete an application and return it on or before April 30, 2016.

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

Thurmont Elementary Hosts its Annual STEM Night

Thurmont Elementary School hosted its annual STEM Night, where students showed off their skills in all aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math. Every year, STEM Night has grown, with this year having over eighteen stations of interactive fun, spread throughout the school for the community to stop, look, learn, and play. Can you take two dixie cups and one 3×5 index card, make a bridge with it, and then stack forty-six large and ninety-three small metal washers on it without the bridge collapsing? Fourth grader Tegan Mott holds the record.

Students research projects included topics such as fastest cars, bottle rockets, the solar system, why candy is sticky, and many more. TriState Astronomers was on hand with their 8” 40 mm IP Celestron reflected telescope, which allowed everyone to take turns looking at craters on the moon, up close and personal.

This event could not happen without the support of the Catoctin community.  Thurmont Elementary School would like to thank the following: Gateway Market, Rocky’s Pizza, Weis Markets, Jubilee Foods, Bollinger’s Family Restaurant, Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, Food Lion, Subway, Wendy’s, Fratelli’s Thurmont Kountry Kitchen, Shamrock, Catoctin High School, Walkersville High School, Mrs. Brawner and NIH/NCI, Mr. & Mrs. Child, Boy Scout Troop 270, Cub Scout Pack 270, TMS Olympiad Team, Thurmont Public Library, Catoctin Zoo, TriState Astronomers and TEPS PTA for helping to make STEM Night a success.

Mother Seton School Students Map Their Way to Winning in Annual Geography Bee

Do you know in which country Mount Kosciuszko is the highest peak? Jack Guinan (Grade 6) and Emma Adams (Grade 8) could tell you! (It’s Australia.) The Mother Seton School students placed first and second respectively in the school-wide Geography Bee held on February 3, 2016.

First-place winner Jack went on to qualify for the Maryland State Geography Bee, to be held on April 1, 2016, in Owings Mills and will be broadcast on Maryland Public Television. Only the Top 100 scoring students are eligible to take part in the State Bee. Jack is the only seventh-grader and only Catholic school student from Frederick County to be selected. The Top 10 state winners will move on to the National Geography Bee, which will be held in May of this year. The National winner receives a $50,000 college scholarship. The National Geography Bee is in its twenty-eighth year and is sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

Elizabeth Vines, Middle School teacher and Geography Bee Coordinator, said that participation in the Bee is a fun way to promote the value of understanding the world around us. “I tell the students they are global citizens,” she said. “The Bee is one of the ways in which we try to broaden their minds.”

With it being easier than ever before to connect with others on a global scale, it’s crucial for students to have an understanding of their neighbors and where they come from. Classic subject matters such as geography provide the necessary frame of reference for students to reach that understanding, and programs like the Geography Bee provide a forum for students to challenge themselves.

Guinan and Adams competed against other classmates who were selected after the initial classroom screening, including: Ethan Little and Vincent Reaver III (Grade 4), Jameson Doll and Brendan Guinan (Grade 5), Emma Wivell and Alyssa Corsetty (Grade 6), Larisa Tayler (Grade 7), and Kirstyn Bockelmann (Grade 8).


First-place winner and runner-up of MSS Geography Bee, held February 3, 2016: (from left) Jack Guinan (Grade 7) and Emma Adams (Grade 8).

Thurmont High School Alumni Invited to Celebrate 100 Years

Be the first alumnus to register for the 100th Anniversary Banquet of Thurmont High School Alumni to be held on Saturday, June 4, 2016, at the Lewistown Fireman’s Activities building, located at 11101 Hessong Bridge Road in Lewistown.

Social hour begins at 5:00 p.m., followed by the banquet of fried shrimp, turkey, and trimmings. During the program, the graduating classes ending with 6 or 1 will receive special recognition, three scholarship recipients will be announced, door prizes will be distributed, and a very special musical performance from Nashville, Tennessee.

So pass the word to your high school friends and send in your reservation(s). The cost is $25.00 per person; checks made payable to Thurmont High School Alumni and mail to Viola Noffsinger, 12510 Creagerstown RD, Thurmont, MD 21788. The first one received will be awarded a free meal.

Note: The open time for scholarship applications is March 30 to April 30. Check the Community Foundation of Frederick County website for applications.

Four $1,000 Scholarships Offered

The Emmistsburg High School Association is accepting scholarship applications.  Four one thousand dollar scholarships will be awarded in May to deserving students. Any Catoctin High School senior or graduate enrolled in an institution of higher learning, including trade schools, is eligible if he/she resides in the Emmitsburg School District. This includes Emmitsburg 21727, Rocky Ridge 21778, and Taneytown 21787 (Taneytown boundary is determined by Bridgeport on route 140).  Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution.

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

Applications may be obtained by contacting the guidance department at Catoctin High School (240-236-8082 Ryan Zimmerman) or calling Phyllis Kelly (717) 642-6963.  All applications must be received by May 10, 2016.

Thurmont Lions Club Lions Work to Increase Literacy in our Community

Lions Clubs International President Jitsuhiro Yarnada has announced a program to Lions to strengthen the service challenge to get resources to develop hands-on projects to help children in need. President Yarnada has implemented a Reading Action Program to help give the gift of literacy. Education and literacy are crucial to helping our students grow. They are the keys to overcoming poverty, disease, and other social issues.  As children’s book author Dr. Seuss wrote, “The more you read, the more things you’ll know.  The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

The Thurmont Lions Club has taken great strides to help bridge the gap between literacy and education, and has supported the Literacy Program for many years. This year, the club donated a drawstring backpack containing a Dr. Seuss book, Look for the Lorax; a Dr. Seuss bookmark; and a Dr. Seuss coloring book and crayons to the kindergarten classes at Thurmont Primary, Lewistown Elementary, and Sabillasville Elementary schools (127 students), to be used to help celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, which took place on March 2. The book chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, which everyone needs. This project will also apply to the club’s Environmental Program. Hopefully, the Dr. Seuss book will encourage the children to read.

The Literacy Program co-chairpersons, Lions Susan Favorite and Joyce Anthony, delivered filled backpacks to the Lewistown Elementary and Sabillasville Elementary Schools (Lion Susan) and Thurmont Primary School (Lion Joyce).


Thurmont Middle School Spirit Show Choir

The Broadway Life is a busy one! The Thurmont Middle School (TMS) Spirit Show Choir continues practicing their hearts out, getting their routines down, and perfecting those smiles to prepare for competition season. They are fast approaching their first event in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on March 19, 2016. In April, they will be traveling to the bright lights of New York City to compete at Brooklyn College.

The kids are extremely excited about this trip and continue to raise funds in order to create an unforgettable experience. They are holding an All-You-Can-Eat Pizza and Salad Night at Rocky’s Pizza in Thurmont on March 14, 2016, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Adult tickets will be $10.00 each; senior citizens and children (ages twelve and under) are $6.00. You may contact any show choir member to get your ticket in advance or you can get your tickets at the door. Please come and support these talented kids!

The Thurmont Spirit Show Choir, directed by Mrs. Berna Laforce, consists of forty-three TMS members. The routines this year are all performed to Broadway-style music, and the kids’ costumes are just as bright as their personalities. There are also upcoming competitions at Hershey Park and Oakdale High School, both in May. The group also performs at Thurmont Middle School in May as part of the Spring Concert.  They appreciate all of the community donations and support that has enabled the group’s continued success.

Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization Accepting Nominations

Nomination forms can be picked up in the front office of Catoctin High School (CHS) or can be downloaded from the CHS website at Nomination forms must be submitted by May 1, 2016. Nominees will then receive an application to be completed by June 1, 2016.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization committee will determine the award recipients by June 21, 2016.

Catoctin Area 2016 Teacher of the Year Nominations

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

This award is open to Pre-K through Grade 12, full-time teachers, in these public and nonpublic schools in the Catoctin feeder school system: Catoctin High School; Thurmont Middle School; Thurmont Primary School; Thurmont Elementary School; Sabillasville Elementary School; Lewistown Elementary School; Emmitsburg Elementary School; and Mother Seton School.

All nominees will be recognized at a reception on April 21, 2016, and one finalist from each school will be announced. The Teacher of the Year will be selected from these finalists by a committee of community leaders and will be announced at the Thurmont Lions’ Education Night on May 11, 2016.

Nomination forms are available at, at the Thurmont Regional Library, and the Thurmont Town Office. You may also pick up a form at your child’s school. Forms are due by March 23, 2016 (all information needed for filling out the nomination form and submitting it is included on it). This is a truly meaningful way to show your appreciation for that teacher who has made a difference in your child’s life and in the school community.

Williams Awarded International Leo of the Year 2015

SCHOOL -- Marah Williams Leo of YearOn October 28, 2015, during the Thurmont Lions Club annual charter banquet, Marah Williams, a senior at Catoctin High School, was awarded International Leo of the Year 2015. Also in attendance were Lion Wendy Candella, CHS Leo Club advisor, and District Lion Eileen.

The Lions Club International, District 22W level, may nominate one high-achieving Leo each year for this medallion and certificate award. The Lions Club is an international service organization.

Marah is one of thirty-one award recipients from around the world, out of 44,000 members. This year, there are ten international Leo’s from the United States and twenty-one Leo’s from various countries around the world: Japan, Australia, India, Nigeria, and Italy, to name a few. Prior to becoming International Leo of the Year, Marah was awarded Leo of the Year, and Regional Leo, and is the current Catoctin High School Leo Club president.

Frederick County 4H Therapeutic Riding Program Spring Session Begins April

The Frederick County 4H Therapeutic Riding Program’s (TRP) spring session begins on April 23, 2016.  The program provides education, socialization, recreation, and therapy to more than seventy-eight individuals each spring and fall at no charge. The program, a 501c3 non-profit organization, will begin its thirty-second year of service to Frederick County citizens with emotional, physical, and/or mental disabilities. Students ride one hour per week for seven weeks during each session without charge. Class instructors and physical and/or occupational therapists design specific programs for each student, direct the implementation of these programs, and monitor the progress of the students.

Each of their riders requires a “team”: a horse leader and one or two side walkers. The “teams” are an invaluable asset to their program. They assist riders with completion of riding tasks and encourage the “I can do attitude.”

Also, each student rides a specific horse with specific equipment, deemed necessary by the instructors and therapist, thus requiring a capable Barn Crew to groom and ready the equine therapist for their job. Volunteers are the heart of this good work.

Volunteer Training Day for all prospective volunteers will be on Saturday, April 16, 2016, at the farm, from 9:00 a.m.-noon. If you have never attended volunteer training, please come and join the TRP family. For more information, check them out on Facebook or visit their website at

cross country 2 (1)Catoctin Girls’ Cross Country team set several new Catoctin High School (CHS) records and personal records during the Maryland State 2A Cross Country Meet at Hereford High School on Saturday, November 14, 2015. As a team, Catoctin came in third place, scoring 141 team points, among the 2A schools. This marked the best finish ever by Catoctin High School’s Girls’ Cross Country team. It also marked the first time Catoctin had three girls in the top twenty finishers at states, and the first time three girls have run under 21 minutes on the challenging Hereford cross country course.

At states, the top five finishers for each school are assigned points based on their individual running times on the course. A team’s number six and seven runners’ scores are figured in the event of a tie. The team with the lowest amount of points wins.

Catoctin’s Cross Country Coach Terri Gibbons said, “It’s based on who the top five are—that day. If someone doesn’t have a good day, that counts against you.” She added, “At Hereford, we ran a three-mile course with big hills. It’s a very difficult course.”

Coach Gibbons is known for motivational team taglines. This season’s team motto, “Rankings mean nothing and race day means everything!” was proven true, as reflected in race-day results at Hereford.

Julien Webster ran seventh place overall, with a time of 20:02.84. She is a junior at Catoctin and was Catoctin’s number one finisher at this state competition. She ran the fastest time in CHS school history that any girl from Catoctin has ever run on the Hereford course.

Bella Kreiner earned thirteenth place overall, with a time of 20:29.11, a new personal record on the course. A senior and team captain, she ran as number two for Catoctin on Saturday.

Lillie Perella earned nineteenth place overall, and also ran a new course personal record, with a time of 20:41.13. She was the number three runner for Catoctin at Hereford.

Catoctin’s powerful top three: Julien, Bella, and Lillie, had a phenomenal season. Coach Gibbons said, “Often times, the three of them crossed the finish line before most teams’ number two runner! At the county championship they were third, sixth, and seventh.”

Rachel Waldron placed forty-third overall at state and ran number four for Catoctin, with a time of 22:12.31. She ran a new course personal record, beating her time at a meet on the same course in September by over two minutes.

“22:12 is an impressive time on this hard course. She shaved over two minutes in a month and half. That is extremely impressive,” said Coach Gibbons.

Sienna Caselle earned eighty-second place overall, with a time of 23:41.82, a new course personal record for her. She ran the number five spot for Catoctin at states, with her first run under twenty-four minutes at Hereford.

Courtney Orndorff placed ninetieth, with a time of 24:18.02, also a new course personal record. She was the number six runner for Catoctin at Hereford.

Kia Braithwaite ran ninety-fourth place, a new course personal record time, earning the number seven spot for Catoctin on Saturday. She’s been anywhere from number four to number seven this year.

Seniors and team captains, Bella Kreiner and Maura Williams, gained and shared great work ethics as part of this team. About the team’s thoughts before the state meet, Bella said, “We felt pretty confident; we’ve been a strong team over the year. It’s all on attitude and the mental game… We encourage each other. We’ve been faster than we ever have before.”

Congratulations to Catoctin’s Boy’s Cross Country finishers. Paul Slotwinski finished fifteenth, his best state finish; and Keith Gasior ran a course personal best time. Special thanks to coaches Ryan Lenhart, Leah Stone, and Jami Campbell, who have helped tremendously this season.

Good luck to Julien Webster and Bella Kreiner, who will compete in New York at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Cross Country Championship that takes place while this newspaper is at press.

Congratulations Catoctin Cross Country for a great season!

catoctin cross country (2)

Pictured from left are Coach Ryan Lenhart, Coach Leah Stone, Kia Braithwaite, Rachel Waldron, Sienna Caselle, Bella Kreiner, Courtney Orndorff, Julien Webster, Lillie Perella, and Coach Terri Gibbons.