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As spring comes to an end and gardening season has begun, it is a great time to start planning for your entries for the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, Maryland’s largest community show! The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show will be held Friday-Sunday, September 6-8, at Catoctin High School. The event was started 68 years ago with the intent to highlight agriculture, a strong part of our community’s heritage.

The show offers residents who live within the Catoctin feeder area the opportunity to showcase their best vegetables, fruits, flowers, arts and crafts, and baked goods. Offering youth and adult categories, judges determine the best from each category, which are awarded ribbons at the Show, and premium checks are mailed to the winning exhibitors after the Show.

The cream of the crop (pun intended!) are selected and highlighted on the table of grand and reserve champions during the event. So, as you plant your garden and flowers or are working on your next craft project, consider entering your items in the Community Show.

Look for Community Show books with details on all the categories and requirements at local businesses throughout the community starting in late July.

Entries can be submitted on Thursday evening, September 5, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., as well as on Friday morning, September 6, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., in the gymnasium and the agriculture department area of the school.

The Community Show’s new website is currently under construction. For more information, view the advertisement on page 34.

Catoctin residents submit entries of vegetables for the Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show each September.

with Michael Betteridge

Catoctin High School spring sports began with some pretty big news. With the retirement of Athletic Director Keith Bruck, who moved up north to take over at Fairfield, Catoctin began the search process for a new athletic director. 

Since WTHU arrived on the sports scene in 2008, Catoctin High School has had three great athletic directors: Tom Sherald, Kevin McMullen, and Keith Bruck. 

Sherald was a local guy all the way and Kevin McMullen was, too. Keith Bruck worked at Catoctin for 22 years, with his eye on the job all the way back to when he was assistant athletic director for eleven years, and finally landed his dream job as athletic director for the past six years. All three of these guys were local products.

Now, Catoctin has gone all the way to Waldorf, Maryland, to find its next athletic director: Brett Campbell.  Campbell, the former head basketball coach of the St. Charles Trojans, guided his team all the way to the 3A State Championship at College Park this past March, where they lost by three points to Northeast. Coach Campbell and his family have moved to Thurmont, and we welcome him into our Cougars family! A special shout-out to Coach Rich who stood in as temporary athletic director during the search process. Thanks, Coach Mike!

Spring sports are finished at Catoctin, so let’s put a ribbon on a great season.


What can you say about Coach Franklin and his guys. Year after year, game after game, they always “bring it.” Sitting atop the dugout, over and over again, I would smile while I listened to Coach Franklin “coaching up” his players. At times, he would laugh, at times he was stern, but he never let his players off the hook without a smile and a twinkle in his eye when he spoke to them. Every player on that team knew that Coach Franklin and his staff had their backs. 

Catoctin had some exciting bats this year. Brayden Grable batted .392 on the season, followed by Bryont Green at .340.  Castellow provided some clutch hitting, along with Jake Bell, Garrett Worth, Gavin Watkins, and Patrick Morlan. Last year, the team to beat was Clear Spring. This year, Brunswick ended the Cougars season in the regionals.


We couldn’t help but wonder what this team would have been with Taylor Smith in the circle, but between the Cougars amazing bats and some pretty awesome pitching from Aubrey Courtney and Kassidy Kreitz, the pain of Taylor’s injury faded into the distance. 

Catoctin softball led all categories in county softball at the plate. Bralyn West had an amazing season! She led the county in hitting, with a .679 batting average and 6 homers.  Meghan Gray led the county in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 34. Kassidy Kreitz had 7 homers and 31 RBIs, second place in the county.  Courtney and Kreitz took on the role in the circle to overpower opponents for a combined 15 wins. That is not too shabby for the smallest high school in Frederick County to lead in all those categories. The Lady Cougars battled all the way to the regionals, where they ended the season against Liberty.


Catoctin boys and girls pulled the No. 3 seed in the brackets, where they both lost to Middletown—the boys in the semis, and the girls in the regional finals.

Track and Field

The Catoctin boys track team won their meet at Fort Hill in the regionals with some notable standouts.

Senior Furious Trammel captured first in the 400 meter dash, the Triple Jump, the Long Jump, and in the 4×400 meter relay with teammates Ronald Etzler, Gavin Sheetz, and Dennis Lease. Gavin Sheetz placed second in the 110 meter hurdles and third in the 300 meter hurdles.  Gabriel Riling won the 1600 and 3200 meter runs and placed second in the 800 meter run. Dennis Lease won the 800 meter run. 

The Catoctin girls track team finished eighth in their meet with a fourth place show in the 4×800 meter relay run by teammates Olivia Baker, Katelyn Bell, Anjiston Casne, and Keira Taylor.


Finishing in the playoff brackets in singles for the boys was Zach Kerr and for the girls was Grace Bell. In boys doubles: Daniel Martin and Jackson Starliper; girls doubles: Anessa Stauffer and Lillian Holden; and in mixed doubles: Elliana Mucker and Magnus Moore.

To the Catoctin spring sports seniors, Brayden Grable, Bryont Green, Anthony Kinnamont, Patrick Morlan, David Shipton, Gavin Watkins, Garrett Worth, Charles Dougherty, Randy Hall, Alexander Hauk, Ben Krauss, Haydn Matthews, Vince Reaver, McKenna Gisrael, Malin Grongstad, Allison Kelly, Abbey Shaffer, Anessa Stauffer, Bryce Bowers, Santiago Canadas Fraga, RJ Etzler, Wayne Ferson, Anthony Kinnamount, Dennis Lease, Timothy McCarthy, Gabriel Riling, David Stitely, Furious Trammel, Meghan Gray, and Reagan Miller: Thanks for all you have done for Catoctin sports during your high school careers. May your new journey be even more successful!

Jeremy Johnson, CYA Football & Cheer President

The world of youth sports continues to be a foundation for our community and the future of our next generation. Over the years, there have been both good and not-so-good things that have occurred in youth sports. With that being said, the thing that stands out the most and remains steady and strong is opportunity. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for the youth to participate, no matter the age, sex, level of skill, or economic status. As part of CYA Football & Cheer, we pride ourselves in opportunity for all.

Over the last year, the launch of Frederick County High School Girls Flag Football has inspired us and motivated a new pilot program within MVYFL (Mountain Valley Youth Football League) to start a Girls Flag Football program for Grades 6-8.

As one of the largest and most successful local youth football associations in the area, MVYFL has the opportunity to develop a feeder girls flag football program for our area high schools. Through our outreach and connections throughout the community, we have a high probability of success for many years to come.

The Girls Flag Football Program’s goals are to promote physical fitness, build self-confidence, foster teamwork, develop leadership skills, offer college opportunities, and challenge gender stereotypes. The league vision allows girls to participate in both cheerleading and flag football.

Starting after Labor Day, the program will have a jamboree-style game day every other weekend through the end of October, with the possibility of a playoff format. The participating MVYFL directors are working diligently to plan and develop the most successful program possible.

Our local leadership at CYA Football & Cheer has also spent countless hours helping to develop this new opportunity for our local youth, as well as the youth of participating MVYFL teams across most of Frederick County.

For further information on the program, please visit and click on registration.

Congratulations to Catoctin High School student Kayla Delcid for being named a 2024 Carson Scholar. Kayla was chosen because she demonstrated the highest standards of academic achievement, integrity, and civic and social responsibility.

With this honor, she will receive a $1,000 scholarship award that will be invested for her college education. In addition to the scholarship money, she will receive a medal and a certificate. 

Kayla will be honored at the Carson Scholars Fund’s 28th Annual Maryland Awards Banquet on Sunday, May 19.

Are you looking for a scholarship? Check the Community Foundation of Frederick County (www.Frederick for the scholarships offered by the Thurmont High School Alumni Association.

The application’s new final date is April 15, 2024. You must be a graduating high school senior and related to someone that graduated from Thurmont High School or from Catoctin High School, classes of l969 to l974.

Then remind those that did graduate during those years that the annual alumni banquet will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex. Any questions may be directed to Viola Noffsinger at 301-418-1760 or by email

Alisha Yocum

The community came together for its annual Catoctin Feeder Community Night on January 24 at Catoctin High School. Families from all the feeder schools within the district, including Catoctin High (CHS), Emmitsburg Elementary (EES), Lewistown Elementary (LES), Sabillasville Environmental (SES), Thurmont Elementary (TES), Thurmont Primary (TPS), and Thurmont Middle (TMS), came together for a chance to share dinner together, connect with local community agencies, and watch some cougar basketball! Dinner was provided thanks to donations by the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Lions Clubs, as well as the Parent Teacher Associations/Parent Teacher Organizations from LES, SES, TPS/TES, TMS, and CHS.

Essays and drawings from students who wrote about what they love about their Catoctin Community were on display. Kindness seemed to be the re-occurring theme that students highlighted in their writings. This year’s essay winners were:


Analee Winfrey, LES

Aidan Clark, SES


Franek Zielinski, TES

James Dugan, TES

Middle School

James Clements, TMS

Are you looking for a scholarship? Check the Community Foundation of Frederick County for the scholarships offered by the Thurmont High School Alumni Association.

The application is open February 15 through March 15, 2024. You must be a graduating high school senior and related to someone who graduated from Thurmont High School or from Catoctin High School classes of l969 to l974. Remind those that did graduate during those years that the annual banquet will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the Thurmont Ambulance Event Complex.

Any questions may be directed to Viola Noffsinger at 301-418-1760 or by email at

Mr. Trice’s Catoctin High School Forensic Science students received some real-life advice from the Guardian Hose Company of Thurmont for their arson experiment.

This was a thoroughly engaging activity for the students. The fire company personnel provided very in-depth and interesting information about what they look for and how they can tell when a fire is not accidental. They had some real scenarios that they shared with students. The students created the structures (shown above) and wrote a story of the events that occurred in the structure prior to the fire. Many thanks to our local firefighting heroes for sharing their time and expertise.

Catoctin High School recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 8th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 21.

Principal Jennifer Clements welcomed the students and guests, expressing pride in the school’s plentiful distinguished alumni.

The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization was formed in 2015 to honor alumni in the areas of academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

This year’s alumni were honored for achievements in academics, public service, and arts and humanities, who have made a difference in the state or nation.

The ceremony also recognizes former Catoctin High staff who have had a significant impact on students.

Susan Weaver was one of the Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductees. She worked as a school counselor for 32 years, about half of that at Catoctin High School. She also coached JV basketball, varsity volleyball, and softball. She also worked at the ticket gate with colleagues, officiated athletic events, and enjoyed pep rallies. Susan recently moved to Delaware and enjoys biking the Eastern Shore bike paths, golfing, walking on the beach, and has recently started playing pickleball.

Brian Persse (Class of 1999) was the Public Service Inductee. He is a senior analyst with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, where he leads high-visibility audits of the National Highway Traffic Safety and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials administrations.

Jeff Barber (Class of 1994) was the Business Inductee. After graduation, Jeff pursued a career in farming and construction. He started Playground Specialists Inc. in 1998 at the age of 22. Through the past 25 years, while keeping the company located in Thurmont region, Playground Specialists has installed large custom playgrounds all over the region, totaling almost $250 million in revenue, and becoming one of the leaders throughout the world in the recreation market. He also opened Thurmont’s first ice vending machine, Twice the Ice, and purchased Maple Run Golf Course.

William Delawter (Class of 2004) was the Athletic Inductee. As a sophomore at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, he pitched on the state champion baseball team before transferring to finish his high school career at Catoctin the following year. He continued playing baseball at UMBC at the Division 1 level.

He has been named a Frederick County’s Player of the Year, earned a spot on the Brooks Robinson All-Star Team, was a Team Maryland Selection, a JUCO All American, UMBC Pre-Season All-American, and 1st Team All-Region, just to name only a few. In 2009, Will was inducted into the Chesapeake College Hall of Fame.

Will earned an associate degree from Chesapeake College and a bachelor’s degree on a full scholarship to UMBC, where he played baseball at the Division 1 level. He also obtained his master’s degree from Frostburg University.

He is now a teacher at Whittier Elementary School, but he has been an assistant baseball coach at Catoctin High since 2015.

Jeff McAfee (Class of 1982) was the Arts and Humanities Inductee. After graduating Catoctin High in 1982, Jeff started working for the State of Maryland in the division of Maryland Environmental Service as a Water Plant Operator for 10 years. From there, he moved to the Maryland Park Service and worked at South Mountain Recreation area as a Park Technician for 11 years. Jeff then transferred to Maryland Wildlife Division and is currently a Wildlife Technician.

Robert Viti is the second Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductee. Robert started his educational career as a Social Studies teacher at Dundalk Middle School and eventually transferred to Frederick County Public Schools, where he continued teaching Social Studies. He then became an assistant principal with Frederick County Public Schools and eventually landed at Catoctin High School, where he also took the role as Behavior Support Specialist. In 2016, he was inducted into the Frederick County Soccer Hall of Fame. He is also a lifetime member of the National PTA, as well as an honorary chapter FFA member of Catoctin High School.

Distinguished graduates are shown (left to right) Susan Weaver, William Delawter, Jeff McAfee, Robert Viti, Brian Persse, and Jeff Barber.

Photo by Keith Bruck

Madison and Jordyn Ohler at the 67th Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show. Jordyn was the 2023 Reserve Champion, Market Beef.

The following were the Champion and Reserve Champion winners at the 67th annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show held September 8-10, 2023 at Catoctin High School in Thurmont.  Each Champion and Reserve Champion winner will receive additional premium money which will be mailed by November 15, 2023. Thurmont’s Bollinger’s Restaurant will provide a $10.00 gift certificate to each Department Champion and Emmitsburg’s Carleo Pizza will provide a $5.00 gift certificate to each Reserve Department Champion.

Champion & Reserve Champion Winners

The following were the Champion and Reserve Champion winners at the 67th annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show held September 8-10, 2023 at Catoctin High School in Thurmont.  Each Champion and Reserve Champion winner will receive additional premium money which will be mailed by November 15, 2023. Thurmont’s Bollinger’s Restaurant will provide a $10.00 gift certificate to each Department Champion and Emmitsburg’s Carleo Pizza will provide a $5.00 gift certificate to each Reserve Department Champion.

Fresh Fruits: Champion—Kylie Robertson (Concord Grapes); Reserve Champion—Kylie Robertson (Sugar Giant Peaches); Fresh Vegetables: Champion—Kara Wolf (Green Cabbage); Reserve Champion—Edward Hahn (Onions); Home Products Display: Champion—Charlotte Dutton; Reserve Champion—Angie Matthews; Canned Fruit: Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Applesauce); Reserve Champion—Donald Stanley (Other – Golden Nectar); Canned Vegetables: Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Carrots); Reserve Champion—Carrie Bankard (BBQ Sauce); Jellies & Preserves: Champion—Melissa Kinna (Peach Peel Jelly); Reserve Champion—Angie Mathews (Apple Butter); Pickles: Champion—Pam Long (Pepper Relish); Reserve Champion—Bridgette Kinna (Catsup); Meat (Canned): Champion—Pam Kaas (Venison); Reserve Champion—Pam Kaas (Canned Beef); Home Cured Meats: Champion—Catoctin FFA Alumni (Country Ham); Reserve Champion—Catoctin FFA Alumni (Country Ham).

Baked Products – Adult Division: Cake: Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Other Cake – Yellow Cake with Raspberry Filling/White Icing); Reserve Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Coconut Cake); Honorable Mention Cake—Burall Brothers Scholarship—Maxine Troxell (Devil’s Food Cake); Bread: Champion—Deborah Howd (Bread – Other); Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Bread, Other – Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl); Pie: Champion—Maxine Troxell (Raspberry Pie); Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Pecan Pie); Sugar Free Baked Products: Champion—Joyce Kline (Sugar Free Cake); Reserve Champion—Shirley Greene (Bread, Other (Cinnamon); Gluten Free Baked Products: Champion—Deborah Howd (Gluten Free Bread – Babka); Reserve Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Chocolate Chip Cookies); Misc. Baked Product: Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Chocolate Cupcakes); Reserve Champion—Linda Seiss (Peanut Butter Fudge).

Baked Products – Youth Division (Ages 11-18): Cake: Champion (In Honor and Memory of Mearl McCleaf)—Abby Harrington (Chocolate Cake); Reserve Champion—Masyn Sanders (Pumpkin Cake with Buttercream Icing); Misc. Baked Product: Champion—Caroline Clark (Apple Pie); Reserve Champion—Masyn Sanders (Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread).

Baked Products – Junior Division (Ages 10 & Under): Cake: Champion—Lexie Cox (Chocolate Cake); Reserve Champion—Ryleigh Ensor (Carrot Pineapple Cake); Misc. Baked Product: Champion—Jeremiah Matthews (Candy Mocha Truffles); Reserve Champion—Jeremiah Matthews (Other, Hard Candy).

Fabric and Fiber Arts Department: Overall Dept. Champion—Heather Wivell (Child Patchwork Quilt – Hungry Catapiller);

Overall Dept. Reserve Champion—Preston Clark (Sewn Item – Men’s Coats – Vest); Crocheting: Champion—Shirley Greene (Child’s Afghan); Reserve Champion—Penni Wiltrout (Misc. Crocheted Animal/Doll); Cross Stitch: Champion—Connie Miller (Cross Stitch); Reserve Champion—Leah Souris (Cross stitch picture); Crewel, Embroidery & Needlepoint: Champion—Shirley Greene (Embroidered Pillows); Reserve Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Christmas Decorations – Plastic); Knitting: Champion—Elizabeth Hoover (Decoration – Patty Pan Squash); Reserve Champion—Phyliss Ecker (Adult Sweater); Quilts & Quilted Items: Champion—Heather Wivell (Child Patchwork Quilt); Reserve Champion—Deb Long (Quilt Sampler); Sewn Items: Champion—Preston Clark (Vest); Reserve Champion—Caroline Clark (Jacket); Misc. Fiber Items: Champion—Charlotte Dutton (Fiber item – Bunny Doll); Reserve Champion—Tracy Lewis (Hand Woven Twill Wool Scarf).

Flowers & Plants: Champion—Linda Seiss (Holiday Silk Arrangement); Reserve Champion—Cathy Ligsay (Cut Herbs).

Fine Arts: Champion—Bryne Lee (Pastel Painting); Reserve Champion—Don Brooks (Acrylic Painting); Arts & Crafts: Champion—Bill Stottlemyer (Wood Craft); Reserve Champion—Charlotte Dutton (Rock Painting).

Color Photography: Champion—Mike Miller (People-Posed); Reserve Champion—Debbie Wiles (Landscape – Sanibel Island); Black & White Photography: Champion—Mike Miller (People-Posed); Reserve Champion—Deborah Howd (Animals/Birds/Reptiles).

Corn: Champion—Mary Ellen Clark (Best Stalk of Corn); Reserve Champion—Jim Kaas (Hybrid Corn); Small Grain & Seeds: Champion—Preston Clark (Shelled Corn); Reserve Champion—Mattee Lambert (Triticale); Eggs: Champion—Ashley Atkins (Brown Eggs); Reserve Champion—Ashley Atkins (Blue Eggs); Nuts: Champion—Edward Hahn (English Walnuts); Reserve Champion—Kevin Long (Black Walnuts);

Rabbits: Champion—Bailey Wolf (Breeding Female); Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Breeding Rabbit & offspring, 1 female); Poultry:

Champion—Laura Dutton (Farm Exhibit – 1 rooster and 1 hen); Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Poultry Exhibit – 1 rooster); Dairy Cattle: Champion—Gavin Valentine (Ayrshire Winter Calf); Reserve Champion—Kiley Little (Holstein Calf); Dairy Goats: Champion—Laura Dutton (3 year old & under 5); Reserve Champion—Tyrone VanEcho (2 year old); Hay: Champion – Mary Ellen Clark (Alfalfa Hay); Reserve Champion—Rodman Myers (Orchard Grass Hay); Straw: Champion—Rodman Myers (Barley Straw); Reserve Champion—Caroline Clark – (Wheat Straw);

Junior Department (Ages 10 & Under): Champion—Jack Campbell (Eggs, 1 dozen); Reserve Champion—Emma Santos (Misc. Craft – Sock Craft); Youth Department (Ages 11-18): Champion—Makayla Comer (Patriotic Photo – Color); Reserve Champion—Grace Mannix (Misc. Craft. – Reese Peanut Butter Cup); Beef: Champion—Kadence Offutt; Reserve Champion—Jordyn Ohler; Beef Heifers: Champion—Makayla Comer, Reserve Champion—James Hewitt II; Sheep: Champion—Peyton Davis; Reserve Champion—Chloe Keilholtz; Ridenour Lamb—Caroline Clark; Swine: Champion—Joshua Wivell; Reserve Champion—Peighton Rhinehart; Market Goat: Champion—Chloe Glass; Reserve Champion —Alyssa Costa; Decorated Animal: Champion—Brayden Whetzel; Reserve Champion—Kiley Little.

Dave Harman (at podium) hosts the 67th Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s opening ceremonies held on Friday night, September 8, at Catoctin High School. Also shown are Community Organizations Flag Ceremony participants John Hoke (left) of Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge #155 and Tim Bentz (center) of Thurmont’s Guardian Hose Fire Company.

Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs (left) announces the 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, Caroline Clark.

Maxine Troxell, Champion Pie Baker, holds her Raspberry Pie, standing with Caroline Clark (2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador) and buyer Josh Ruby of Forever After All Farms, who had the winning $350 bid which benefits the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show. Josh Ruby was also the auctioneer for the annual Baked Goods Auction.

Photo by John Kempisty

Pet Show Winners

The 2023 Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show Pet Show was held on Saturday, September 9 at Catoctin High School. There were 17 exhibitors who exhibited 46 pets at the Community Show. Judges were Mary Ann Harbaugh and Dr. Ray Ediger who both did an excellent job judging all of the pets.  Many thanks to the Pet Show Committee of Dave Harman, Dave Johnston, and Kristen Myers, who all helped with the event. The Grand Champion winner received a $25.00 gift card donated by Tractor Supply Company, and the Reserve Grand Champion received a $15.00 gift card, donated by The Dirty Dawg. Each participant received treats for their animals and free ice cream cone wooden coins that were donated by Roy Rogers. 

Winners were: Cat with Prettiest Eyes: 1st— Heather Rice, 2nd—Matt Rice; Cat with Longest Whiskers: 1st—Matt Rice (1½ inches); Cutest Cat: 1st— Matt Rice, 2nd—Heather Rice; Smallest Pet: 1st—Jada Morgan, 2nd—Deborah Boisvert, 3rd—Kelly Slaughter; Dog with Waggiest Tail: 1st—Morgan Kolb, 2nd—Kelly Slaughter, 3rd—Deborah Boisvert; Prettiest Dog (25 lbs. & under): 1st—Will Valentine, 2nd—Kelly Slaughter, 3rd—Vanessa Wilhide; Prettiest Dog (26 lbs. and over): 1st—Kara Wolf, 2nd—Jan Tyler, 3rd—Janelle James; Best Costumed Pet: 1st—Will Valentine, 2nd—Savannah Cregger,  2nd—Morgan Kolb, 3rd—Brielle Green; Pet with Most Spots: 1st—Nikolai Poffenberger, 2nd—Matt Rice, 3rd—Brielle Green; Largest Pet (by height): 1st—Jan Tyler, 2nd—Brielle Green, 3rd—Kelly Slaughter, Honorable Mention—Nikolai Poffenberger; Most Unusual Pet: 1st—Nikolai Poffenberger, 2nd—Jada Morgan, 3rd—Heather Rice; Best Trained Pet: 1st—Janelle James, 2nd—Denise Mosher, 3rd—Kelly Slaughter; Grand Champion—Will Valentine with his dog; Reserve Grand Champion—Deborah Boisvert with her dog.

Abby Harrington (second from left), Youth Grand Champion Cake Baker holds her Chocolate Cake standing with Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, and buyers Caleb McCleaf and Craig McCleaf of Mountain Gate Family Restaurant who had the winning $1,200 bid. The Youth Division (Ages 11-18) Grand Champion Cake is In Honor & Memory of Mearl McCleaf and benefits three youth-related funds: Thurmont Grange Scholarship, Catoctin FFA’s National FFA Convention Trip, and Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters Scholarship.

Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, stands with Lexie Cox (middle), Junior Grand Champion Cake Baker, holding her Chocolate Cake with buyer Former Delegate Daniel Cox. The Junior Division (Ages 10 & Under) Champion Cake, which sold for $350, benefits the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Food Banks.

Cheryl Lenhart (second from left), Grand Champion Cake Baker, holds her Yellow Cake with Raspberry Filling & White Icing, standing with Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, and Mountain Gate Family Restaurant buyers, Craig McCleaf and Caleb McCleaf. The $1,050 winning bid for the Champion Cake benefits the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show.

Catoctin Mtn. Log Sawing Contest Winners

The 38th Annual Catoctin Mtn. Log Sawing Contest was held on Sunday, September 10, with the winners as follows: Women’s Team: 1st—Caroline Clark and Peyton Davis (5.31.80); 2nd—Analese Abruzzese and Ella Burrier (12.59.72); 3rd—McKayla Comer and Alyssa Costa (17.54.43); Men’s Team: 1st—Cadin Valentine and Gavin Valentine (6.07.03); 2nd—Brayden Whetzel and Gavin Valentine (6.22.17); 3rd—Cadin Valentine and Dylan Ridinger (6.28.93); Men and Women’s Team: 1st—Mark Valentine and Jessica Valentine (1.42.82); 2nd—Elizabeth Schubel and Quamari Willard (3.28.21); 3rd—Quamari Willard and Analese Abruzzese (4.20.96); Children’s Team: 1st—Garrett Troxell and Myles Kuhn (9.06.33); 2nd—Trenon Latham and Preston Clark (10.14.31); 3rd—Elizabeth Schubel and Jason Green (15.10.25).

Cheryl Lenhart (second from left), Reserve Champion Coconut Cake Baker, holds her winning cake, standing with Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, and buyers, John and Maggie Doll, with a $750 bid, along with their granddaughters, Eva and Lyla Doll. The proceeds from this cake benefit the Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters.

Brayden Whetzel’s sow & seven five-week-old Crossbred piglets were enjoyed by all ages at the Community Show. Brayden is pictured on the right, showing one of the piglets to one of the many visitors in the Agriculture Center area.

The Grand Champion Swine was a 250-pound Crossbred hog, owned by Joshua Wivell, and purchased for $2,500 by Wolfe Auctions. Joshua’s parents are Justin and Brittney Wivell, and sister, Addie. Joshua’s grandparents are Phil and Shelly Wivell and Andy and Trish Hahn.

Winners of the 42nd Annual Robert Kaas Memorial Horseshoe Pitching Contest on Sunday, September 10 (from left): (back row) 2nd place team of Richard Brown and Donald Kaas, Sr.; (middle row) 1st place team of Johnny Buhrman and Carl Willard; (kneeling) one of the 3rd place winning team members of Gary Hoffmaster and David Miller.

Reserve Champion Bread (from left):  Caroline Clark, 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador; Maxine Troxell, Reserve Champion Bread Baker (Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl Bread); and buyers, Chris and Susan Windsor of Windsor Customs LLC, who had the winning $75 bid, which benefits the Thurmont Grange.

In Memory of Patricia Ann (Myers) Johnston, Community Show Historian, who passed away in May 2023, one of her sister Cheryl’s 1st place cakes—a Black Walnut Cake—was auctioned to benefit the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s Improvement Fund. A grand total of $7,000 was raised from many community citizens and businesses! Patty’s family members (from left): brother Bobby and his wife, Karen; husband, David Johnston, holding the Black Walnut Cake; dad Rodman Myers, and sisters Cheryl and Andrea.

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is the largest in the State of Maryland. The strength of the show and the strength of agriculture in Northern Frederick County stands on the shoulders of the volunteers who proudly teach and carry that heritage forward from generation to generation. The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin FFA Chapter, Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters, the Maryland State Grange, and the Maryland Agricultural Fair Board. This annual Community Show comes together each year through the efforts of hundreds of dedicated volunteers and has been bringing the Thurmont and Emmitsburg communities together since 1957!

with Michael Betteridge

Comfort Is The Enemy Of Greatness

Our hometown Catoctin Cougars’ fall sports season began on August 9 at 7:00 a.m. at Catoctin High School, when our guys and gals came streaming through the doors of the school, carrying their gym bags, equipment, and hopes and dreams for the fall 2023 high school sports season. Football, soccer, cross country, field hockey, volleyball, and golf are in full swing with everyone returning to practice exactly two weeks before the first day of school on August 23.

One of the biggest changes at Catoctin is the new artificial turf field, installed throughout the month of August. Some athletes like the artificial surface because it is faster, and some prefer natural grass because it is more forgiving. The one undeniable thing is that you can play on the artificial surface no matter what the weather and that is precisely why Frederick County has upgraded the final four high schools in the county that had natural grass fields:  Brunswick, Catoctin, Tuscarora, and Walkersville. Money was allocated by the Frederick County Council in the form of a $10 million Maryland state grant, specifically to upgrade those four schools. And that didn’t sit well with the boosters at Governor Thomas Johnson High School, who raised $200,000 to fund their new turf field in 2021, which took years to raise. Had they waited two years, that money could have been used to benefit the student-athletes because the county and state would have paid for the field. Timing is everything! 

There are those who think Catoctin won the lottery with its new field and others who think turf fields harm the environment, cause more injuries, and cost more in the long run with an 8- to 10-year life cycle. Like it or not, Catoctin football, soccer, and lacrosse will be played on an artificial turf field from now on.

But, new fields are not the only change in the fall sports season. Early in August, the Central Maryland Conference (CMC) announced a complete realignment of all the teams in the CMC. Clear Spring was added. The CMC now has 16 schools in the league and has been broken down into two divisions: a small school division with 1A and 2A schools and a large school division with 3A and 4A schools. The small school division will consist of the Antietam and Gambrill subdivisions, and the large school division will consist of the Potomac and Spires subdivisions. Catoctin has been placed in the small school Antietam division, along with Clear Spring, Boonsboro, and Smithsburg. Catoctin football will not be affected by these changes in the CMC since there is no CMC championship for football.  The football postseason is guided by the Maryland Public School Student Athletic Association (MPSSAA).  For sports other than football, there will now be two CMC championship trophies awarded: one to a small division school and one to a large division school.

Every year at the start of the football season, I like to hang around the Catoctin practice fields, workout areas, and sports classrooms to prepare myself for play-by-play coverage on the radio. I have been doing play-by-play on WTHU here in Frederick County now for 15 years. Just like high school sports, preparation is everything. I also attend the Catoctin football chalk talks and scrimmages, but what I really enjoy is learning from the Catoctin coaches.

Recently, while attending a Catoctin football practice session, Head Football Coach Mike Rich said something to his players that was timeless. I was moved by the words of advice he gave his players. He told them that “comfort is the enemy of greatness.” He is right! Getting up at 5:00 a.m. to make a 7:00 a.m. football practice is uncomfortable. He reminded his players that at that very moment, their classmates were still on vacation and probably in bed asleep. He challenged them with the notion that not everybody belonged in that room. Showing up is easy, but putting in the hard work every day is what will make them Catoctin football players. After Coach Rich was done, I wanted to put on a helmet and pads and suit up to play myself.

Coach Rich, now in his fourth season at Catoctin, is highly motivational. He is building something special on Sabillasville Road, and it’s starting to pay off.  Coach Rich keeps pounding his mantra into players over and over again. He calls it the three B’s: Be consistent! Be relentless! Be accountable! Excellent advice for teenage athletes.

Senior Haydn Matthews and Shamus Stull will share time at quarterback this season, surrounded by a very large offensive line. Haydn has matured from last year. He is big and strong and has a cannon for an arm. Stull is a player to watch this season. He ran with teammate and track star Brody Buffington in the 4×100 relay track team. This kid is a burner! With Matthews’ size, arm, and athleticism and Stull’s speed, defenses will go nuts trying to figure out how to adjust to that QB tandem. Robeson and Watkins are huge on the offensive line, with teammates Randy Hall and Braydon Bagent, this could be one of the best o-lines since 2019. At wide receiver, they have real legitimate speed in Charlie Dougherty and Vince Reaver. One of the biggest surprises last year was Logan Malachowski. Logan is a big, strong target with good instincts and a deep threat to take the ball away in a crowd, which he did several times last year in the end zone. The most amazing thing about Logan is that he has only played football for one year. This is his second year ever playing organized football. Logan was also a big part of the Cougars 2023 baseball team, playing centerfield and pitching in relief. I am really excited about this wide receiver corps!             

Speaking of baseball, somehow coaches convinced Eddy Titchom, who helped Coach Franklin with the baseball team last spring as a manager, to suit up and play football. He is huge! The biggest guy on the team. He will make an immediate impact on this team. And, finally, junior running back Jake Bell looks bigger and stronger than ever and will carry the load in the backfield behind the wall up front with his teammate running back Wayne Ferson, a thunder and lightning tandem.

The defense is anchored by one of the strongest defensive backfields in recent history. Charlie Dougherty will play both ways, but according to coaches, he is one of the best safeties they have seen in a long time. Charlie will call the plays for the defense. Expect big things from Charlie this season, sticking his nose in there and busting up the opponent’s offense and reading the quarterback’s eyes in the backfield. Pound for pound, the defense is special and the time spent in the weight room this year shows. These guys are big, strong, and athletic. Offense is fun, but defense wins games!

This team is on board with Coach Rich’s three B’s, and with a new turf field to add to the excitement, this Cougars football team will consistently and relentlessly pound their opponents all the way into November. 

I predict a very special season for the 2023 Catoctin Cougars football team. On Friday, September 1, the season began at Catoctin High School on their brand new “field of dreams.”  Come on out to the new field and cheer our Catoctin Cougars football team to victory. Catoctin can’t win without its twelfth man. That’s you!

Thurmont Grange No. 409 was proud to present scholarships to three Catoctin High School 2023 graduates who will be pursuing their higher education goals.  All scholarship recipients are exceptional students and very involved in community service, as well as many extracurricular activities. Tanner Seiss will be attending University of Maryland, Abby Moreland will be attending Wilson College, and Morgan Ridenour will be attending Hood College. 

A donation was also made to the college fund of the grandchildren of Thurmont Grange members Bob and Carolyn Wiles, whose son, Dales Wiles, passed away unexpectedly last year.

Congratulations and best of luck to Tanner, Abby, Morgan, and all of our 2023 graduates.

Pictured from left are Niki Eyler (Scholarship Committee Chair), Addison Eyler (Committee member), Tanner Seiss, Morgan Ridenour, Abby Moreland, and Susan Crone (Committee member).

The 67th annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show will be held at Catoctin High School, 14745 Sabillasville Road in Thurmont, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 8, 9, and 10, 2023. All events throughout the entire weekend are free.

There’s great news for Community Show bakers of all ages! Most baked products classes have an increase in their prize money, and classes have been added for both the Youth Department (ages 18 and under) and the Junior Department (ages 10 and under).

Entry of exhibits will take place in the gymnasium and agriculture department area on Thursday evening, September 7 and on Friday morning, September 8. Commercial exhibits and community organization displays will be set up throughout the facility all weekend.

This year’s Friday night (September 8) Opening Ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium, with the 45th Annual Community Organizations Flag Ceremony, followed by the 2023-2024 Catoctin FFA Chapter Ambassador announcement. The annual Baked Goods auction will begin immediately following the program at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Grand Champion and Reserve Champion cakes, pies, and breads will be sold at 8:00 p.m.  

On Saturday, September 9, the Community Show is open to the public from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. In the Agriculture Center area, the Market Goat, Beef, Sheep, and Swine Show and Fitting & Showing Contest will start at 9:00 a.m.  

The Pet Show’s free registration takes place in front of the school, with the competition starting at 10:30 a.m., for 12 Pet Show Classes.

On Saturday, September 9, the Thurmont Academy of Self Defense will provide martial arts demonstrations in the auxiliary gym, and the Linda Elower Studio of Dance and The Gospel Ridge Bluegrass Gospel Band will perform in the auditorium.

Mountain Gate Family Restaurant will cater and serve a Roast Turkey and Baked Ham Buffet on Saturday, September 9, from 3:00-6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, to benefit the Thurmont Grange. 

The 49th Annual Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters Market Goat, Beef, Sheep & Swine Sale will be held on Saturday night, September 9, at 7:00 p.m. in the Agriculture Center area. All buyers are welcome to attend and purchase animals, which are exhibited by 4-H and FFA members.   

On Sunday, September 10, the Community Show is open to the public, from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Activities begin in the Agriculture Center with the Dairy Goat Show, followed by the Dairy Cattle Show. The Decorated Animal Contest begins at 11:00 a.m.

Mountain Gate Family Restaurant will be catering and serving a Fried Chicken & Pulled Pork BBQ Buffet on Sunday, September 10, in the cafeteria, to benefit the Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters.   

Sunday afternoon activities in the Agriculture Center include the 38th Annual Log Sawing Contest, a Pedal Tractor Contest, and the 42nd Annual Robert Kaas Horseshoe Pitching Contest near the softball field. 

On both Saturday and Sunday, the Petting Zoo will be in the Agricultural area, while a sow with its piglets will be on display all weekend. There will also be face painting and pony rides. 

Additional activities throughout the weekend include food trucks and food stands, the annual book sale, a Quilt & Afghan Show, and Thurmont area historical photos.

By early August, the Community Show booklets will be available in local businesses. All citizens of our Catoctin community are encouraged to enter exhibits for free to see what prize they may win and be a part of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, the largest Community Show in the State of Maryland! 

Departments include Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Home Products Display, Canned Fruits, Canned Vegetables, Jellies & Preserves, Pickles, Meats, Baked Products, Fabric & Fiber Arts, Flowers and Plants, Arts, Fine Arts, Arts and Crafts, Photography, Corn, Small Grains and Seeds, Eggs, Nuts, Poultry & Livestock, Dairy, Goats, Hay, Junior Department (Ages 10 and under), and Youth Department (Ages 11-18).

Exhibits must be removed on Sunday, September 10, from 3:00-5:30 p.m. Prize money will be mailed to the winners by November 15, 2023.

The Community Show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin FFA Chapter, Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters, the Maryland State Grange, and the Maryland State Agricultural Fair Board. The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show has been bringing our communities together since 1957!

Visit the website for detailed information: View the advertisement on page 22.

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

The first two scholarship recipients are seniors at Catoctin High School (CHS).  Lily Bingman, daughter of William and Jennifer Bingman, is planning to attend Coastal Carolina University in the fall. Mackenzie Orndorff, daughter of Tommy and Michele Orndorff, is planning to attend Mount Saint Mary’s University in the fall. 

The final three recipients were former graduates of Catoctin High School.  Attending Mount Saint Mary’s University, career goal in the area of law, is Savannah Morris, daughter of Julie and Charles Morris. Attending Oklahoma State University, majoring in agricultural communications, is Rianna Chaney, daughter of Becky and Lee Chaney. Attending Butler Community College, career goal in agricultural communications, is Sheridan Chaney, daughter of Becky and Lee Chaney.

This year, EHSAA was able to give out a fifth $1,000 scholarship, in memory of Edward and Margaret Meadows.

All recipients will be recognized at the Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association’s 98th Annual Banquet to be held October 16, 2023. We wish them all success.

Pictured from left are Ray Ediger, Essay Committee; Harold Staley, Essay Committee; Zoe Wetzel, essay winner; Loberta Staley, Essay Committee; Patty Golf, Essay Committee; and Frank Warner, Lewistown Ruritan President.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club sponsored an essay contest for the students at Catoctin High School and Thurmont Middle School on “The Importance of Volunteerism,” with the hopes that this subject would spark a renewed interest in volunteerism for the students in our community. Zoe Wetzel, a student at Thurmont Middle School, was awarded first prize of $100 during the dinner/meeting of the Lewistown Ruritan Club for her essay on “The Importance of Volunteerism.” In her essay, Zoe wrote that “volunteer groups strengthen the communities they belong to and that few services are more honorable than volunteerism.”

Joanna Genemanse from Catoctin High School was also awarded first prize for her essay on “The Importance of Volunteerism.” In her essay, Joanna stated that “Volunteering is not only beneficial for the community, but also adds to the volunteer’s quality of life and well-being.” Unfortunately, Genemanse was unable to attend the dinner/meeting.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club was proud to present these awards to two of our local students.

The Lewistown Ruritan, also known for their famous chicken BBQs, has served the Lewistown/Thurmont Community since 1960. The club members work to enhance the quality of life through community service and to make our community a better place in which to live and work.

Blair Garrett

There are a lot of great athletes coming up in the Catoctin region.

We’ve had state championships in football and baseball in just the past few years. We’ve had phenomenal teams and coaches put together stellar post-season runs to give us years of exciting high school sports action.

But we’ve also had some students who have become standouts among the standouts. Brody Buffington of Catoctin High School has become one of those athletes.

Buffington’s performances for the track team this season have been electric, so much so that he’s become a nationally ranked runner in his categories.

“I’m ranked No. 2 in the nation in the 100 meter, and I’m fifth or sixth in the nation in the 200-meter dash,” Buffington said.

Buffington’s successes for the team were really something of a happy accident. Track had been an option to keep in shape for his primary sport, but once his shoes hit the track, the sky was the limit for the senior.

“Last year, I did indoor track to keep up with my conditioning for my outdoor sport, lacrosse,” Buffington said. “I found out I was really good at running, so I sacrificed lacrosse for an opportunity at track and field.”

Buffington’s efforts have translated into a lot of personal growth and plenty of post-high school opportunities. “ I’m going to run in college,” he said. “I committed to the University of Georgia.”

The University of Georgia has a special athlete headed its way come next season. Buffington has excelled in his short time with the Catoctin track team, setting multiple school and state records.

“He’s got the school record in the 100- and the 200-meter dash, and both of his records are the fastest in the state of Maryland,” Head Coach David Lillard said. Not only has Buffington made a splash at the regional and state level, but his appearance at the biggest of stages made a statement for the Catoctin standout.

“At Indoor Nationals, I got second place for the 60- and the 200-meter dash,” Buffington said.

Adjusting to a new sport as a high school junior is no easy feat. Becoming a nationally ranked athlete in that sport in such a short time seems near impossible. The past two seasons for Buffington have been a tight learning curve, but it’s no surprise that he’s exceeded expectations with a great coach and team behind him.

“He’s [Coach Lillard] molded me into the person I am today,” Buffington said. “I make a lot smarter decisions, I’ve sacrificed a lot, and he’s trained me to where I am right now, so I’m very grateful for my coach.”

The work isn’t done yet, though. Two huge opportunities to prove he’s one of the best in the nation still lie ahead. “I have a longer season than a lot of the guys because I have New Balance Nationals and the Junior Olympics over the summer,” Buffington said. I’m still putting in the hard work and going over the little details.”

The team’s season finishes with the turn of the month, but that hasn’t stopped Coach Lillard from polishing up on the parts of Buffington’s game that really make a difference.

“One of the main things we’re working on is the turn coming out of the 200 meter into the straightaway,” Lillard said. “We’re still doing some block work and still trying to work on some power, but the key thing is just trying to stay healthy and still trying to fine tune.”

With a steadfast work ethic and passion for improving on the details of his game, Buffington’s improvements are sure to carry him far into his post-high school career.

While Buffington graduates after this season, the team has plenty of up-and-coming athletes to look forward to for next season.

Keep an eye out for your favorite Cougar athletes hitting the track once again in late 2023.  

Brody Buffington competes at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March 2023 in Boston.

Catoctin High School’s first-ever “Ride your Horse to School Day” was held on Thursday, April 6.

Ava Ganjon, Trinity Spidle, Taylor Knott, and Kylie Putman rode their horses to school as a representation of Catoctin’s Equine Club. Teachers and students were intrigued to see horses at their school, which brought their small Equine Club more attention and, hopefully, more members in the years to come. There are already more people hoping to be involved next year! The students would like to extend a big “Thank You” to DFC Davis and CPL Barrera for escorting them on their safe ride to the high school.

Pictured from left are Kylie Putman riding Cara, Ava Ganjon riding Cody, Taylor Knott riding Snowflake, and Trinity Spidle riding Gucci; (standing in front) morning escorts, CPL Berrera and DFC Davis.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Congratulations to Catoctin High School’s Class of 2023 for graduating this month! Every year, Catoctin’s graduation is held at Mount Saint Mary’s University’s Knott Arena, where hundreds of students, staff, families, and friends gather to celebrate graduating students’ incredible accomplishments. Years of aspiration and perseverance, ups and downs, and joy and sorrow unite in this one event. Looking out, you’d see Catoctin’s passionate band, a stage seated with admirable speakers, and, of course, a sea of blue caps and gowns. You would hear the band play “Pomp and Circumstance,” feet shuffling—perhaps from nervousness or exhilaration, or a combination of both—and the crowd buzzing with excitement. 

Seeing this, one may wonder: How did we get to this point? A happening as important as this one must require much preparation. What transpires behind the scenes leading up to this celebration? To answer these questions, I sought out three diverse perspectives: one from graduating senior Emma Stream, one from event coordinator David Gadra, and, finally, one from row manager, Russell Headley.

As mentioned previously, graduation is a pivotal milestone for students, which gives rise to a wide array of powerful emotions. “As graduation moves closer, I feel incredibly nervous, yet relieved,” described Stream. “All of my hard work has finally paid off, and I’m relieved and overjoyed at the thought of starting a new chapter in my life. However, I’m nervous because of starting this new chapter, although I know things will eventually work themselves out.”

Many refer to high school as one’s best years of life, but that doesn’t mean high school is free from sacrifices. This sentiment is echoed by Stream, who explained, “There have been many mistakes that I have made in my life. One of the biggest ones I feel I made is sacrificing my mental health for school. The sacrifice of mental health is never worth it, no matter how well you do, as true happiness and content cannot be measured by the grade that you get in some high school class that you will barely remember in 20 years.”

Fortunately, these hardships are opportunities for seemingly boundless growth. “There have definitely been shifts in my mindset throughout the years, but the biggest change in my mindset has been letting go,” reflected Stream. “In freshman year, I would work myself to death and to the brink of exhaustion, but, as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that the stress isn’t worth it. By taking breaks, you tend to do better and feel better.”

The aforementioned growth is apparent to the staff members who treasure witnessing this lively gleam in students’ eyes. “Seeing each senior class, which are all different, growing and maturing after four years is very special to me!” said Gadra. “The facial expressions of each student walking across the stage is priceless as they realize what they have accomplished and the new journey that is in front of them.”

Despite the cheer that floods the Knott Arena each year, the organization process itself is no simple task. “It takes a team and hundreds of man hours to prepare,” Gadra reported. “[I] had a principal once tell me that a school can make many errors but graduation is not one of them. [Organization necessitates] a lot of meetings and divisions of responsibilities! I have done it for so long that it is a tried-and-true process. [It] starts at the beginning of the year all the way through graduation. [As the event coordinator, there is] some [pressure]–just do not want to make a mistake for the students or families!”

Headley, “a proud and enthusiastic Catoctin High School row manager looking forward to [his] 24th Catoctin High School graduation,” eloquently articulated the work behind hosting graduation: “There is a great deal of ‘behind the scenes’ work that our CHS graduation organizers, Dave Gadra and [guidance counselor] Shannon Byrnes, are involved in, from coordinating the lining up, entrance, and exit, to choreographing Catoctin’s iconic musical performances, speeches, and other features of the graduation ceremony, to organizing (and correctly pronouncing!) the names of scores of graduating seniors, in a high-pressure environment, while doing these important things in front of a large crowd that has a very vested interest in the proceedings which are being filmed by hundreds of cell phones and cameras.”

What’s more, Headley holds a unique perspective about graduation. “Personally, my favorite parts of every graduation are the musical performances that our courageous students deliver every year-typically, a live performance of our great country’s national anthem, followed by a live performance of a relevant song that serves as both a tribute and a farewell to each year’s graduating class,” he expressed. “Another thing about Catoctin High School graduations that impresses me every year is the fact that we always have seniors who have chosen to serve their country in our great nation’s military, and I love how we typically take a moment to recognize these courageous young men and women, who have made that patriotic and courageous choice to serve. I also love to see our military color guard, who always make a dignified, solemn, and stately entrance, bearing the flags of our country and state, reminding us that freedom isn’t free, and many soldiers have given what Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion’ to preserve America’s freedom.”

Once more, Headley emphasized the effort Catoctin staff commit to each graduating class–understandably so! “Another thing that impresses me every year at Catoctin High School’s graduation is the fact that a very high percentage of Catoctin’s faculty, and all of our school’s administrative and guidance team enthusiastically volunteer to take part in our graduation ceremony, either by putting on their graduation robes or by assisting behind the scenes with taking tickets, helping with parking, assisting with the seating of guests, delivering speeches, reading the name of graduates, handing out diplomas, and hundreds of other activities that contribute to an exemplary and memorable graduation ceremony each year. I have to give a special ‘shout-out’ to Dave Gadra, who has been coordinating Catoctin’s graduations for quite a few years–I am guessing that Mr. Gadra has been taking on this leadership role for ten to fifteen years, at least, and he is always positive, patient, and very enthusiastic in leading our seniors for several graduation practices and hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes work, [which] culminate each year in a superb graduation ceremony.” Evidently, not only should the students be commended during this ceremony, but all of the invested staff members should be, too! Every year, this event is able to run as flawlessly as possible thanks to their dedication and diligence. As a Catoctin student, I appreciate staff members’ (often undervalued) invaluable and consistent hard work which they generously put in on top of their already-busy schedules.

Catoctin, as a relatively small school, boasts an unrivaled sense of community. This sentiment of achievement and belonging is prominent during graduation where everybody is basking in each other’s light. If you’re a student, I’ll leave you with a piece of insightful advice from Stream: “Anything worth doing is worth doing with half effort, because you know what’s better than a 0? A 75, or even a 50. While those grades might not be what you want, they are still better for your grades and are better for your mental health, as they allow for you to move past the barriers your mind has set.” Otherwise, I’ll leave you with Headley’s rhetoric: “it is a time of joy; it is a time of nostalgia; and it is a time of hope and promise.” The beauty of community shines bright this time of year.

Congratulations, Catoctin’s Class of 2023! Best of luck to all of you!

Did you know that Catoctin’s faculty has the tradition of forming a “tunnel” or a “chute” to give new graduates a pathway from the Knott Arena to the staging area and the back exits, where the graduates can bid their final farewells with their classmates and meet with their parents? I didn’t, either, until Headley clarified this! Graduation’s immaculate organization is remarkable!

Mount Saint Mary’s University’s Knott Arena, photographed by Gregory Koch

Thurmont Grange #409 is offering two scholarships to any 2023 Catoctin High School graduating seniors who will be attending a technical or trade school, community college, or four-year college.

Applicants are required to submit one letter of recommendation, an essay about how furthering your education will have a positive impact on your community, and your official high school transcript.

Scholarships will be awarded on May 31, 2023. Applications may be obtained by emailing or contacting the Catoctin High School Guidance Department at 240-236-8100.

All applications must be received by April 30, 2023.

The Distinguished Graduate Committee at Catoctin High School is now accepting nominations for the 2023 Distinguished Graduate Awards. 

Nominations for this year must be submitted by May 1. For information regarding the Distinguished Graduate program and nomination forms, visit the Catoctin High School website at call Catoctin High School at 240-236-8100.

Deb Abraham Spalding

On a sunny, 11-degree morning in early February, Warren Schafer was making snow at his house in Thurmont.

Schafer is a 15-year-old freshman at Catoctin High School. While society and social media lead us to believe that high school freshmen are sitting behind their cell phone apps and cell phone cameras or mesmerized behind their computers immersed in someone else’s imaginary world in video games, be assured, Schafer is, too!

The difference between the average freshman and Schafer—an avid skier and ham radio operator—is that he’s using some of that time to continually challenge himself to make a better snow-making gun than those currently used in the ski industry. 

Thus, Thurmont’s “Snow Man” has been revealed!

Two years ago, Schafer’s snow-making prototype was his science fair project in middle school. He won first place in the Frederick County Science Fair in the Environmental Sciences category. He has taken that prototype and improved upon it again and again. The original design was built with parts from the local hardware store, and now he’s custom building them out of aluminum.

It is his goal to ultimately design and create a more efficient snow-making nozzle, one that uses less air, less electricity, and less water to produce more snow in less time than the current industry standards. Oh, and he’s recycling, too!

When asked if he’s achieved his goal this year, Schafer simply stated, “Yes, I have!” It’s a continual process.

Schafer explained, “We can make (a wet) snow when it’s 33 degrees if the humidity is really low. Snowmakers combine temperature and relative humidity together to create what’s called a wet bulb. As long as the wet bulb temperature is below 28 degrees, we can make snow.” 

Schafer recycles water from the backyard pool. Rainwater catches on a tarp on the pool while a pump sits on the tarp and pumps the water into a big tank. A hose connects to the tank and feeds the water to the snowmaker that is powered by a small pressure washer.

At the time of our visit, Schafer had created a sled run with snow four to six inches deep at the bottom and two feet deep in the middle, and he had just started building the hill.

The two-foot base in the middle took about two hours to create with Schafer’s tiny snowmaker. A feat that is impressive even to the novice! Imagine, in the near future, being able to create a snow run in your own backyard using Schafer’s snow-making system that you can purchase at the local hardware store.

Schafer will continue to improve his design more and more to advance the system until he’s satisfied. At that point, he will make his system fully automated from controls at his computer. There may even be an app for that!

Warren Schafer is shown with his snow-making system. The swimming pool and collection tank are shown to the left, leading to the electric connection, power washer, hose, tripod, and snow-making gun.

Warren Schafer is shown adjusting his snow-making system in February.

At the Potomac District Ruritan Convention, on behalf of the Lewistown Ruritan Club, Loberta Staley accepted the Gold Award given for the Potomac District Ruritan Community Service. This award is given to motivate individuals and clubs to higher levels of achievement and to recognize and reward those that have accomplished outstanding results.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club is proud to be an organization of positive people doing positive things in our community. They take pride in the things they bring to the community.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club is also presently sponsoring an essay for students at Catoctin High School and Thurmont Middle School on the importance of volunteerism. The club is sponsoring this contest because they feel that volunteerism creates a sense of pride and patriotism. Entries must be submitted by April 3. Essays should include all pertinent information; i.e. name of student, grade, and contact information, and be submitted to the Lewistown Ruritan, 10935 Old Frederick Road, Thurmont, MD 21788.

Pictured from left are Paul Lewis, Potomac District National Representative; Erich Fronck, District Governor for the Potomac District; and Loberta Staley, Lewistown Ruritan

Members of Catoctin High School National Art Honor Society have spent countless hours working to perfect a painting that will be hung in the FCPS Learning Leadership Center in Walkersville. Each high school was given the challenge to create a painting that represents their school community. The artwork will be displayed at the center in the designated rooms named after each high school.

Under the direction of art teacher, Laura Day, the four seniors who worked on the piece—Skylar Caballero, Natalie Savage, Abigayle Bowley, and Abigail May—wanted to make sure that the majority of the school’s population was represented. Nestled in the heart of the Catoctin Mountains, it’s a place where everyone fits in, from the athletes to the artists, the FFA kids to the skateboarders. Tight-knit friendships and school pride are what bring us all together.

Pictured from left are Skylar Caballero, Abigayle Bowley, Abigail May, and Natalie Savage.