Currently viewing the tag: "Sabillasville Environmental School"

Alisha Yocum

SES Receives Grant for Gettysburg Battle Field Trip

Sabillasville Environmental School – A Classical Charter (SES) received a grant from the American Battlefield Trust’s History Field Trip Grant Program.

The grant is awarded based on a competitive national application process. Mr. Hanna and Mrs. Isennock, middle school teachers at SES, applied and were awarded the grant to take their sixth and seventh graders to the Gettysburg Battlefield.

“This field trip is an exciting opportunity for our students to see and experience Gettysburg beyond the classroom and what it is like to be in the fields and locations where the turning point of the Civil War took place in 1863,” Hanna said. “We are incredibly grateful to the American Battlefield Trust for funding this opportunity for our Maryland middle school students.”

The American Battlefield Trust is the largest battlefield land preservation organization in the country, having saved more than 562,000 acres of hallowed ground across 24 states. The Trust focuses on providing educational opportunities for students, and during the 2018-2019 school year, over 7,500 students from 24 states benefited from the grant program.

Lottery Now Open for 2024-2025 School Year

As a public charter school, each year, SES opens up a lottery for available seats for the upcoming school year. The school offers grades K-8 and uses a classical curriculum that focuses on agriculture and environmental science. All Frederick County residents are welcome to apply to the lottery. There is no cost to attend. The lottery deadline is March 15. To find out more and to enter your child into next year’s lottery, go to

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

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

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

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

Sabillasville Environmental School

Pictured from left: (back row) SES Principal Dawn Getzandanner, Grange members Rodman Myers, Helen Troxell, and Jim Royer; (front row) third grade students Emma Beil, Garret Troxell, Parker Hahn, and Grange member Jane Savage.

Thurmont Elementary School

Pictured from left: (back row) Grange members Cathy Little, Sue Keilholtz, Jody Eyler, Sidney Moser, and Russell Moser, and Principal Karl Williams; (front row) third graders, Taylor Zais, Damien Miller, Jayce Oden, Lily Tankerlsey, and Kiley Little.

Sabillasville Environmental School – A Classical Charter School (SES) will open its lottery for the 2023-2024 school year starting in January. Those wishing to enter their child’s name for grades K-12 can enter online by going to The lottery drawing will take place on March 22 for any open seats that are available.

For those interested in learning more about the school and taking a tour, please attend the Open House set for January 17 at 6:00 p.m.

SES is a public charter school that is free to all Frederick County residents. The school offers a classical curriculum with a focus on agriculture and environmental science.

For questions, please email or call the school at 240-236-6000.

Joan Bittner Fry

The Beginning

The early settlers knew the value of education. After Sabillasville was laid out, a log school house was built at the western end of the village. School was maintained there for some time, the building was also used for public meetings and church services. Some of Maryland’s greatest men made addresses in that old building. After the stone schoolhouse was built, on the then-Wagaman farm, this log house was used as a residence, and the post office was kept there at two different times. 

The stone schoolhouse was used for school purposes until 1871, when a brick building was built on the eastern side of Sabillasville. It was made into a two-room building in 1885. About the middle of the 19th century, a long building was built at Deerfield and was used as a schoolhouse, for religious worship, and for other public purposes, among which was holding the elections of Hauver’s District. In 1888, a two-room building was built on the same ground at Deerfield. 

A Record Herald article tells of the 61-year history of Mr. Earl Eby (1886-1994) working at the polls in Hauver’s District, Frederick County. Mr. Eby and his wife, Mabel, owned Eby’s Grocery Store in Sabillasville. He recalled the first election he attended, around 1907. In those days, votes were hand-counted under the eyes of party watchers. When he joined the election board, elections were held in the log schoolhouse at Deerfield.

From mid-1920s

Foxville Elementary School, built in 1924, was closed in 1961. The 60 students enrolled there were transferred to Wolfsville Elementary School until a suitable facility could be provided for the Sabillasville-Foxville area.  The former building at Sabillasville, erected in 1927 with an addition in 1934, housed 140 students through the close of the 1964-1965 school year.  Because of the limitations of the basic building, many services, which had come to be regarded as necessary and desirable, were unavailable to these students.

The present Sabillasville Environmental School was the culmination of years of work and hope for residents of the area. Actually, two former elementary schools were immediately represented in the area served by the new school.  

It was with great enthusiasm, therefore, that residents of the area greeted the announcement that a new school would be built. Construction began July 20, 1964. In September 1965, the new school opened with an enrollment of 240 students.

Sabillasville People Happy With School (Excerpt from an article in Frederick News—Post by Richard Shafer, Staff Writer)

The $640,000 request was approved by County Commissioners on July 6.  Fifteen and one-tenth acres of level farmland were purchased by the school board in August and September of 1963 from Mrs. Ruth E. Lewis, Mr.  & Mrs. Ralph Miller, and Mrs. Grace A. Lantz, all near Sabillasville, for a total of $12,872. The badly needed school is slated for completion before the 1965-1966 school year begins.

In 1927, a brick school building was built on the eastern side of Sabillasville and housed 140 students through the 1964-1965 school year.

The badly needed new school was built on 15 acres of farmland and opened in September of 1965 with 240 students.

Courtesy Photos

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

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

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

For more information, visit

James Rada Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Rada Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Within a few weeks, founding group members of the Sabillasville Environmental School—A Classical Charter, will know if their hard work has paid off. Over the past year, the group wrote a charter school application as a solution for keeping a school in Sabillasville.

If approved, the public charter would operate out of the current Sabillasville Elementary School building. As a public charter, the school would be free and open to all students in K-8 who live in Frederick County.

The group is proposing a school that will teach a classical curriculum, with a focus on environmental science, which will include several hands-on learning projects, such as a green house and garden space and market days where students will apply math and business skills to sell their produce. If approved, the charter would start operation in August 2022.

On August 18, the superintendent of Frederick County will make her recommendation to the Board of Education as to whether or not they should approve the charter application. On September 10, the Board of Education will conduct a final vote on approval of the charter school application.

Founding group members are encouraging community members to email their letters of support for the school to the Board of Education prior to their final vote on September 10. Emails may be sent to For more information about the Sabillasville Environmental School, visit their Facebook page.