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Catoctin High School physical education teacher Mike Franklin was named the Frederick County Public Schools 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year during Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban’s “Prize Patrol” visit to his school. The school system’s most prestigious award recognizes outstanding representatives of the teaching profession. In addition to teaching physical education, Franklin chairs the department at his school. He also teaches Fitness for Life through the FCPS Virtual School, coaches baseball, coordinates the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge, and chairs his school’s ROAR Club. He has earned numerous awards including 2014 Maryland Outstanding PE Teacher, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award, and was named 2017 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.

“We had 70 outstanding Teacher of the Year nominees,” said Alban. “Mr. Franklin’s emphasis on positivity and service to others makes him an excellent representative of quality teaching in Frederick County.”

“There is no more powerful tool than praise,” Franklin says and explains that he believes in the “catch ‘em being good” philosophy of encouraging students to succeed.

“I believe in celebrating successes daily. I’ve seen the power of a compliment or even a simple phone call home to let the parents know their child is awesome.”

One challenge we face in education, he adds, is that “we must make sure that students are ready to learn. We have hungry students, homeless students, students who are battling through family issues.” Teachers can help them develop abilities to manage emotions. “I want my classroom to be a 90-minute vacation from whatever challenges the students are facing in life,” Franklin explains.

As a coach, he asks players to fist-bump a statue as they prepare for athletics practice to signify, “I’m changing attitudes.” He advises scholar-athletes that when they make an error they can take their hat off to signify they let go of their frustrations and put it back on when they “have their minds right” to move forward. Likewise, during the school day, teachers help when they meet students at the door with a positive greeting and help them to do something to identify that they have figuratively “changed hats” and are ready to learn. The most powerful tool we have is our minds, says Franklin: “A compliment can make a kid feel like a million dollars when he’s broke.” 

Principal Bernie Quesada shares this wholehearted endorsement: “Mr. Franklin has made a difference for thousands of children in Frederick County in his coaching, mentoring, teaching, and, most importantly, the example he sets for all those who are in his class or work with him. His involvement with the community and the impact he has had on our area are remarkable. Just this past holiday season, he organized a food drive and came to work early every morning to stand outside as the buses arrived and collect items for the local food pantry. That is one of hundreds of examples of selfless actions he has shared as a teacher and colleague. You will not find a more influential teacher leader in FCPS.”

FCPS will celebrate Franklin and each school-selected Teacher of the Year at a special event Friday, May 10 from 4-6 p.m. at Tuscarora High School. The Board of Education will honor Franklin at their meeting on Wednesday, September 11. He and other Maryland district Teachers of the Year will receive honors at a state-wide gala on October 25. Of the 24 local Teachers of the Year, one will be selected the Maryland Teacher of the Year and go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year award.

Franklin was grateful to receive gifts from community organizations supporting the FCPS Teacher of the Year. Signifying the year 2019, Stauffer Funeral Home donated $2,019, FERKO donated $500, Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre donated tickets valued at $100, and Fountain Rock Restaurant Group donated a $150 gift certificate.

2019-2020 Teacher of the Year Michael Franklin with (left to right) his children Haylee Bentley, Kaylee Franklin and Kathan Franklin, and his wife Kristie Franklin

Tara Wilhide (pictured above), a Catoctin High School senior, was homeless for three years. In April, she received a $2,000 scholarship and recognition from School House Connection, a national  organization that assists students experiencing homelessness. She was one of the 11 students from around the country to receive this award at a ceremony in Florida. 

Wilhide was chosen for this honor based on her essay on the impact of her experience as a homeless high school student and her determination to succeed despite her situation.

The journey from homeless student to national scholarship recipient began when Wilhide moved out of her home when she was 14 years old.

“Both my parents suffer from substance abuse, and they have since I was five,” said Wilhide.

She was determined to stay in school and get an education, so she found temporary places to stay with friends or other family members, sometimes slept in the park, and worked three jobs to support herself.

When she was 15, Wilhide joined SHIP (Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership) of Frederick County, a non-profit organization that, according to their website, “seeks to lift up Frederick County’s homeless youth so that they can realize their best potential, complete their education, and be poised to break the cycle of poverty they find themselves in.” 

Wilhide’s success and confidence earned her a place on the Youth Advisory Council. Ashley Bennett, SHIP Counselor, said, “As a leader of our SHIP Youth Advisory Council, she has also joined our staff members in attending the 1st Maryland Symposium in Youth Homelessness in May 1-2, 2019. She was invited as a presenter in a youth leadership panel, highlighting the  challenges and barriers youth have in accessing community support services.”

Wilhide has advice for students who are in this situation: “I know it is scary and a lot of them think ‘I don’t have it that bad.’ When I was told that I was homeless, I thought that I was not homeless. I have a place to live. I’m staying somewhere. But if you are not living with your parents, and you are working jobs to support yourself and are struggling in school because you don’t have someone to help you out with things, more than likely you need help. It’s okay to ask for help, and the people who are here to help you aren’t here to make your life harder.  They are here to make your life easier, and they are going to try their best to do that for you.”

The Catoctin High School Envirothon teams won many awards at the recent county competition. Team 1 members—Sophia DeGennaro, Isabel Rozo, Fernajen Tundag, Kallan Latham, and Karianna Strickhouser—won first place overall, and first in the Forestry category and fifth in the Issues categories. Team 2 members—Wyatt Payne, Cheyenne Van Echo, Josephine Bujold, and Kiandra Strickhouser—won first place in the Soil category and sixth place overall.

April Wells, science teacher and Envirothon coach, said “The team is in training and looks forward to the state competition at St. Mary’s College on June 19-20, 2019. They are also looking forward to improving for the county competition next year since only one of the five is a senior.”

Olivia Ecker, who is in the Academy for the Fine Arts dance program, was selected as an All-County dancer. Also, at the State Dance Festival in January, she was chosen as an Honorable Mention All-State Dancer.

Eliza Phillips and Zachary Savage, Catoctin High seniors and third-year Academy of Fine Arts music students, presented their “Capstone Projects” in May.

Hannah Poole, Skyler Payne, and Lauren McFarland  participated in All-County Chorus. Skyler Payne was also selected for All-State Chorus.

Senior Mady Crampton is Catoctin High School’s nominee for the Human Rights Award. Maddie was recognized at a banquet held at Dutch’s Daughter on April 25, 2019.

Senior Wyatt Payne won The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Award and the Excellence in Conservation Award at this year’s FCPS Science and Engineering Fair.

James Rada, Jr.

At the beginning of the school year, staff at Thurmont Middle School noticed that the boys’ bathrooms smelled fruity, which is not a smell most people associate with boys’ bathrooms.

That was when the staff realized that e-cigarettes and vaping had become a problem with middle-school students.

The Thurmont Middle School PTA and Thurmont Addiction Commission sponsored “Teens and Vaping: What Every Parent Needs to Know” at Catoctin High School on April 8. Stephanie Kimble, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program manager with the Frederick County Health Department, gave about three dozen parents and students an overview of vaping.

Vaping is the use of a small electronic device that aerosolizes nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals that the user inhales. The devices are often called e-cigarettes or e-pens, but the most-popular device is a JUUL, which looks like a flash drive. A small JUUL pod is inserted into the JUUL, which has the equivalent nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. It also has a variety of other chemicals.

“Kids call it the iPhone of electronic cigarettes,” Kimble said.

The FDA does not regulate these devices, and they are often marketed to youths. For instance, you can purchase skins to decorate a JUUL, just as you can purchase skins for smartphones.

JUUL, because of its small size, presents a challenge for parents and educators in part because it is easy for teens to hide. Many students also falsely believe that JUULs don’t contain nicotine.

“JUUL does not sell a device that does not contain nicotine,” Kimble said.

Besides nicotine, Kimble said JUULs contain benzoic acid, glycerol, propylene glycol, natural oils, and extracts.

“Glycerol is found in foods,” Kimble said. “The stomach can digest it. The lungs can’t.”

Among the risks of vaping are: (1) Exposure to nicotine, which is addictive and can hinder brain development in youths, which continues until age 25; (2) Exposure to toxic substances; (3) Increased likelihood to smoke; (4) Injuries from malfunctioning vaping devices; (5) Poisoning from direct exposure to some of the chemicals used; (6) Exposure to heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead that the aerosol picks up from the metal coils.

While tobacco usage among students has been trending downward for years, health officials worry that vaping usage will show an upward trend. Right now, the data for the devices, which have only been around since 2015, is still being collected.

If caught vaping, students can receive a citation, just as they would if caught with alcohol.

Kimble said parents need to learn what vaping devices look like and what the risks of vaping are. They should talk to their children about the risks and set a positive role model by not vaping themselves.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) announced the five teachers advancing as finalists for the 2019-2020 FCPS Teacher of the Year Award, the county’s most prestigious award for teachers. Every school in FCPS is asked to nominate at least one outstanding teacher every year to be selected as the county’s Teacher of the Year. This year, after several stages of review that included interviews and submitting essays and other materials, FCPS has narrowed the field to five outstanding finalists.

Local Catoctin High School’s Michael Franklin (pictured left) is one of the five finalists. Franklin teaches physical education and chairs the department at Catoctin High School. He also teaches Fitness for Life though the FCPS Virtual School, coaches baseball, coordinates the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge, and chairs the ROAR Club. He has earned numerous awards, including 2014 Maryland Outstanding PE Teacher, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2017 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.

The other four finalists are Leslie Byrd, Linganore High; Lydia Kowalski, Tuscarora High; Matthew McVay, Monocacy Middle; and John Yoho, Brunswick High.

FCPS will announce the winner of the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year award later this spring. View the list of 2019 nominees and their photos online at www.fcps.org/toy.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at the new Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Strafford Drive, just off of Lawyer’s Lane, from Route 550 South of Thurmont.

Social hour will begin at 5:00 p.m., with the meal served promptly at 6:00 p.m. The classes ending in 4 or 9 will receive special recognition. Several basket raffles and a 50/25/25 raffle will take place.

Six graduating seniors, related to Thurmont High School Alumni, will receive $1,000 scholarships. The cost for the evening is $23.00 per person, which should be mailed to Viola Noffsinger, 12510 Creagerstown Road, Thurmont, MD 21788 (before May 16).

All alumnus of Thurmont High School and Catoctin High School classes (1969-1972), and friends, are encouraged to attend.

Visit the alumni Facebook page: Thurmont High School Alumni Association. Questions, special reports, or other information may be sent to vmnoff@ gmail.com or call 301-898-9898.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School (CHS) student-athletes play a huge role in the development and success of our school programs.

Several athletes in particular out-performed the rest, taking the next step with their education and athletic career in pursuing their respective sports at the collegiate level.

Nine students at CHS signed their letters of intent to commit to being a student-athlete after graduation this spring: Melanie Topper—Hood College Basketball, RJ Mellor—Messiah College Lacrosse, Cam Baumgardner—Kutztown University Track and Field, Raegan Smith—Salisbury University Softball, Hunter Grimes—Saint Vincent College Football/Lacrosse, Ashley Mayton—Shepherd University Softball, Derek Rivera—Hagerstown Community College Golf, Victoria Bryant—Stevenson University Volleyball, Caitlyn Naff—University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Volleyball.

These students spent all year working and competing with their teams to prove to colleges and universities that they are ready to move forward with their athletic and academic careers, and that is something that did not go unnoticed by coaches, friends, and fans. 

Less than 17 percent of all high school athletes pursue collegiate sports, so these select few who are able and willing to push forward are surely something special.

All nine athletes signed together and took pictures with their coaches, family, and friends at the high school’s annual signing day. The balance between studies and athletics can be difficult to manage, but each Catoctin High athlete has proven they can compete and succeed in both, and they will look to continue that trend over the coming years. Congratulations to the athletes and families, and keep making the Catoctin Area proud!


Pictured from left are: (sitting) Melanie Topper, RJ Mellor, Cam Baumgardner, Raegan Smith, Hunter Grimes, Ashley Mayton, Derek Rivera, Victoria Bryant, and Caitlyn Naff; (standing) Girl’s Basketball Coach Amy Entwistle, Boy’s Lacrosse Coach Neil Metzgar, Football Coach Doug Williams, Softball Coach Jessica Valentine, Golf Coach Tyler Auscherman, and Volleyball Coach Sherry Levering.

Catoctin High School is selling limited edition, custom-made art prints to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Catoctin High School. The prints are of Thurmont High School; Emmitsburg High School; and Catoctin High School, as it looked when it opened fifty years ago.

The artwork was commissioned especially for Catoctin High School and created by talented artist Kim Flabbi. Kim is a long-time staff member of Catoctin High School, as well as a former coach and student. 

“I was very excited and feel honored to have been asked to create this artwork for my alma mater to celebrate this special anniversary,” said Flabbi. 

The school is selling fifty numbered and artist-signed prints, ready for framing. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate program, which recognizes outstanding alumni.

To purchase a print, visit Catoctin High School’s main office between 7:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. If you have questions, call the school at 240-236-8100.

Kim Flabbi with a custom-made print.

Courtesy Photo

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded Scholarships worth over $95,000 to area students! Scholarships are available to all graduating high school level seniors from a Maryland State accredited public, private, and/or home-school program who reside within the Catoctin High School district boundaries as per the Frederick County Public School district map.

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, 2019.

The successful applicant and 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 www.thurmontmasons.com.

The Emmistsburg High School Association is accepting scholarship applications. Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded in May to deserving students. Any Catoctin High School senior or graduate who is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, including trade schools, is eligible if he/she resides in the Emmitsburg School District. This includes Emmitsburg 21727, Rocky Ridge 21778, and Taneytown 21787 (Taneytown boundary is determined by Bridgeport on route 140). 

Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution.

Selection is based on having a 3.0 or higher grade point average, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, 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 (Ryan Zimmerman at 240-236-8082) or by calling Phyllis Kelly at 717-642-6963.

All applications must be received by May 10, 2019.

The CYA Basketball 2nd Annual Shoot-A-Thon event was held on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at Catoctin High School. It was a great success. Committee members planned an action-packed, fun-filled day for all the players that participated. The Shoot-A-Thon featured concessions, music, a face painter, and a bunch of high-fives and hugs. There were plenty of smiles, great shots, entertaining games, and community bonding that conveyed the spirit of our Cougar family.  

CYA is pleased to announce the raising of $9,600 from the event. In addition, over 500 non-perishable canned foods were collected that were donated to the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Food Banks.

Prizes were awarded for highest percentage foul shots made in seven groups, as well as the highest fundraiser. Winners were recognized at the Lady Cougars last home game of the season on February 15. Congratulations to all the winners: Austin Van Echo, Raegan Smith, Ethan Tokar, Corine Jewell, Kourtney Bell, Parker Davis, Colton Gray, Cooper Wiles, Dalton Reed, Abbey Shaffer, Melanie Topper, Drew Nicholson, Derek Nicholson, Jacob Kiltsch, Kaydense Cox, Eli Yocum, Emily Wetzel, Kamryn Goodin, Ava Ganjon, Paige Sweeney, and Brayden Grable. Winners of the canned food raffle include Olivia Morroni, Eli Yocum, Logan Berg, and Chase Cregger.

Student volunteers with the canned goods collected during the CYA Basketball 2nd Annual Shoot-A-Thon.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Locally, we’re at war. We’re not in an obvious battle, it’s a hushed one. Our casualties are many. Our enemy is addiction. Through the efforts of the Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC), and several other groups and individuals, we’re starting to fight back in the Catoctin area.

Chris Schildt of Thurmont wasn’t our area’s first casualty of addiction, but his death was one that inspired collective action to do something to help and prevent addiction. In his case, a street drug addiction began after using prescribed drugs for a sports injury. Chris had a bright future ahead of him. He was an athlete, a 2009 graduate of Catoctin High School, a 2015 graduate of Shepherd University, he had a job, he coached youth sports, and he had recently become a father, when he died in June 2016 from an overdose, or bad batch, of heroin.

Chris didn’t want to die, but addiction has no geographic, demographic, moral, financial, age, or racial boundaries. We honor him, all who have passed, and all who battle addiction, by seeking solutions and resources in the Catoctin Community. It’s time that we all become proactive in attack to defeat this enemy from which no one is safe, because even if we don’t have an addiction ourselves, we may have a family member, friend, or neighbor who does.

Addiction is a disease that is believed to be caused by a genetic predisposition that can react to stimulants and immediately cause addiction. The reference to addiction in this article is not only on drugs since addiction comes in many forms, with drugs, smoking, drinking, and eating being the most obvious, and sex, tanning, pulling out your hair, and social media being examples of the less obvious.

Chris’ death was the spark of intention for his father and mother, Ed and Karen Schildt of Thurmont, who joined in the efforts of others who had already started fighting, healing, and helping to deal with this enemy they never saw coming. The Schildts’ path to recovery in mourning was to do something, anything.

Ed said, “We were supported tremendously when our son passed. We stood in a receiving line at Stauffer Funeral Home for ten straight hours with Chris’ death. We were supported during the days and weeks and months afterward. When clarity came back, we said, ‘What can we do? How do we say thank you?’ The Schildts held an educational awareness event in April of 2017, called “Introduction to the Enemy,” during which the auditorium at Catoctin High School was filled.

Ed explained, “The ‘Introduction to the Enemy’ event puts addiction in the room with you as the monster that it is, and then it shows you the struggles. In the end, you’re supporting those who are dealing with a disease. It’s not a problem. It’s a disease.” He added, “This is a topic

[addiction]

that doesn’t normally draw a crowd. It made people more aware. From that, the community said, ‘What’s next?’”

The result of that first event was a challenge for Ed and Karen to continue to step up. Former Mayor and current Thurmont Town Commissioner Marty Burns attended that first event and told Ed that his opinion of addiction had changed because of it. From that point, Marty involved the Town of Thurmont and there were follow-up meetings and then the opportunity to create the Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC).

TAC stands upon three pillars: Educational Awareness (Ed Schildt, Pillar Lead), Support and Recovery (Myra Derbyshire, Pillar Lead), and Prevention and Outreach (Susan Crone, Pillar Lead).

Educational Awareness is the broadest pillar and encompasses everything; Support and Recovery is a positive thing because it’s all about supporting people in recovery or seeking recovery; and Prevention and Outreach, that’s where Susan Crone’s FUSE Teen Center comes in; young people are shown alternatives to prevent addiction and provide positive options and results.

TAC is a growing group of advocates, who are providing information and resources to the community and empowering those who are doing good things in this battle right now.

The FUSE Teen Center is one example of a program TAC is empowering. Susan Crone is the founder of FUSE, a teen center where participants are encouraged to interact with each other without technology. This program has been running for a while now, and participants are truly having a blast.

Susan is a tenured teacher at Thurmont Elementary School, who stepped up to do something about the addiction and suicide frequency she was noticing. She is joined by many volunteers to operate FUSE, and they’re currently meeting at the Trinity United Church of Christ on East Main Street in Thurmont. It is a social option for teens from sixth to twelfth grade, from 4:00-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Fridays from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Teens may come to just hang out with each other, play games, and be creative, or they can bring homework and FUSE volunteers will do their best to lend a hand. They are always looking for ideas and volunteers.

“FUSE is a place where teens have the undivided attention of volunteers who are there because they care about the future for them. We will do whatever we can to help them find the treasures that are already inside them waiting to be found,” said Susan.

To learn more, check out FUSE Teen Center on Facebook.

Chastity Fox, founder of the Music is Medicine Foundation nonprofit, is an advocate for addiction recovery after losing her brother, Richard “RJ” Holmes, to a heroin overdose in October 2016. She is close to opening The Path—Peer Recovery Community Center, which will offer free peer-to-peer addiction support with certified Peer Recovery Specialists. This is another project that TAC is empowering.

Other services at PATH include music therapy, yoga, meditation, classes for the community, family support groups, job-seeking skills, resume writing, and other resources that help a person with addiction become a functioning member of society.

This resource center is located at 31B Water Street in Thurmont. TAC is supporting it and assisting with the operation. There is an immediate need for volunteers, especially a person to write a business plan and a grant writer. Other needs are for donations of furniture and things like a television. Like the Music is Medicine Foundation on Facebook or call Chastity at 240-440-2020 or e-mail RJsLastingStrengthFoundation@gmail.com.

There’s so much that is being mixed in marijuana, cocaine, and heroin that’s not known. These aren’t pharmacists out there. They’re street dealers. They’re getting the cheapest ingredients to make the most profit, and they’re preying on people with addiction.

To become a warrior in our community’s battle against addiction, visit the Thurmont Addiction Commission on Facebook or seek out any of the resources in this article.

Theresa Dardanell

See someone alone. Reach out and help. Start With Hello! In September, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) participated in the third annual Sandy Hook Promise Start With Hello Week. This national anti-violence campaign encourages students to reduce social isolation with acts of kindness that starts with just saying hello. Schools created activities to promote a welcoming and inclusive place for all students.

Catoctin High School

Catoctin High School (CHS) students started the week by decorating outside the cafeteria with slogans to promote the Sandy Hook Promise Campaign. On “Hey Day Thursday,” students and staff were given name tags and the challenge was to greet new people. Representatives from the Mental Health Association distributed information, and students were given the opportunity to sign up for the Out of the Darkness Walk. A team will represent CHS during this walk at Baker Park. On “Green Out Friday,” students and staff wore green in support of the campaign, and a group picture was taken of students spelling out “Hello” on the baseball field. School Social Worker Debbie Wivell said, “It was wonderful to see many students and staff participate in the Hey Day. This early in the year, teachers and students are still getting to know each other and this is important. Green Out day was also a success.”

Thurmont Middle School

Students at Thurmont Middle School (TMS) had lots of opportunities to connect with each other. On “Hey Day Monday,” they started by saying hello to new people. The challenge on Tuesday was to make sure no one sat alone at lunch. TMS student Charlotte Bradley said, “I really liked the lunch activity of not sitting alone, where we sat with students based on our interests. The lunch activity seemed to really encourage inclusiveness and connectedness with students that we don’t normally talk to.” School Counselors Becky Krauss and Sherry Bueso agreed that Wednesday’s activity was also very successful. They said, “We are thinking that the positive post-it-notes were the most successful because most of our students participated in their classes. Students left positive, encouraging messages on their desks to be received by the next student sitting there.” The challenge on Friday was to perform a random act of kindness for a teacher or student. Principal Daniel Enck said, “The various activities that our students, staff, and community members participated in throughout the week helped bring our school community closer together. Additionally, the activities allowed students to see the benefits of reaching out to other students who they may not typically interact with. I can’t thank our students, staff, and community members enough for all of their efforts in making Start with Hello week such a success.”

Thurmont Elementary School

Students at Thurmont Elementary School especially enjoyed having community members greet them in the mornings during the week.  Special guests included directors from the FCPS central office; Mayor John Kinnaird; Keyote, the Frederick Keys mascot; athletes and cheerleaders from Catoctin High School; members of the Thurmont Police Department; Boy Scout Leaders; and employees of the local Kountry Kitchen restaurant. Activities during the week were geared toward making all students feel welcome. They had daily ice breakers during lunch and courtesy lessons on how to introduce yourself to a new person. Darby Carson said, “It helps people and makes them feel like they matter. I think we should keep doing it and let that legacy live on.” Claire Daly said, “It is helpful for those kids who don’t have a lot of friends. They won’t be so lonely.” Tyler McCallion said, “Once you get to know people more, you realize you could be really good friends.” Shalina Weitzel said, “Start With Hello Week makes us feel inspired to help other kids.” School Counselor Tammy Brotman said, “I think this is a really important message to give our students.  Having Start with Hello Week gives students both the opportunity but most of all the courage to try reaching out to others.  We are trying to build a culture of kindness, and this is a great way to continue to support that goal and really make it a genuine part of what we’re about at TES.”

Sabillasville Elementary School

Sabillasville Elementary School (SES) students started the week with one important word: Hello. On Tuesday, they wore clothing that displayed something about themselves so that they could learn about each other. School Counselor Niki Kayser said, “The students and staff really enjoyed sharing why they chose the shirt they did. It encouraged them to learn a little more about their peers’ interests.” Students performed random acts of kindness on Wednesday and participated in special activities on Thursday and Friday.  Kayser said that she received positive feedback from staff and students and heard the comment, “It’s important to be kind all the time!” many times during the week. She also said, “I feel this message is wonderful! It’s a simple way to help create a more connected and inclusive school community. This message reminds us to encourage and support one another on a daily basis, and to understand how important it is to help students learn how to be accepting of others and to see that all it takes to make a difference is just a few simple words.”

Emmitsburg Elementary School

Emmitsburg Elementary School (EES) will be incorporating the idea of friendship throughout the school year to support the Leader In Me Positive Behavior Intervention System. Activities for the week included wearing green on Monday, signing a school banner on Tuesday, breakfast buddies on Wednesday, sharing stickers on Thursday, and making posters on Friendship Friday. School Counselor Sarah Fawley said, “The students really enjoyed working with other students in making their posters. They enjoyed the morning greeters in the front lobby, who greeted students with ‘hello’ and passed out stickers and pencils.” She said that students were more aware of others; they invited other students to sit with them at lunch.

Fawley also said, “This message is very important. There is so much power in five little letters (Hello) that can impact someone’s day or life forever.”

Starting the Day by saying “Hello” at Thurmont Elementary School: Dr. Keith Harris, FCPS executive director of Accelerating Achievement & Equity; Debra O’Donnell, TES principal; students, Adania Kreitz, Darby Carson, Carolyn Mercer, Claire Daly, Tyler McCallion, Chase Jackson, Summer Bostic, Tristan Lease, Shalini Weitzel, Warren Schafer; and Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.

Photo by Theresa Dardanell

Austin Fogle has earned the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout. Austin’s Eagle Scout project was to rebuild the outdoor chapel at Camp West-Mar, located off Route 77 near Foxville. With the help of Troop 1011 scouts and adult volunteers, the old walls were removed and new walls were built. Over a couple of weekends, the project took 460 volunteer hours to complete. Austin was inspired to take on this extensive project after a camping trip there, when he noticed caution tape affixed to trees keeping people from entering the chapel area. Having experienced his first scout camping trip at Camp West-Mar, this location held special meaning to him.

Austin has demonstrated leadership in a variety of roles, having served three terms as Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 1011; Vice Chapter Chief of the Order of the Arrow; Assistant Senior Patrol Leader of Jamboree Troop 1440; and Wilderness Pledge Guia at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.

Austin is a senior at Catoctin High School, where he has maintained perfect attendance and belongs to the National Honor Society, Frederick County Career and Technology Center Technical Honor Society, and is a Skills USA local competition winner in Carpentry. Austin is also a member of the Frederick Church of the Brethren, where he serves as greeter and usher.

The project wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations made by Frederick Brick Works, Robert W. Sheckles Inc., York Building Products, Barrick and Sons, and Federal Stone Industries Inc.