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Hoffman’s Market Closes

Deb Abraham Spalding

Should auld acquaintences be forgot? We don’t think so!

Hoffman’s Market has closed and its building has been sold, but local children of all ages in Thurmont remember stopping at the market across from Thurmont Middle School and purchasing subs, sodas, and penny candy. These memories will not be forgotten.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids grow up,” Michelle Hoffman said. She added, “Little kids who used to come in from the elementary and middle school now come in with their own kids.” The Hoffmans themselves have had four generations of Hoffmans grow up in the store. The youngest is now three years old.

“It’s bitter sweet,” Sharon Hoffman said when she closed the door to customers at 5:00 p.m.on December 12, 2023, after almost 37 years in business.

She and her late husband Reno opened Hoffman’s Market at 405 East Main Street in 1987. The market was known for scrumptious deli sandwiches. “We make them fresh every morning. We pick good meats and my daughter, Michelle, makes them,” Reno Hoffman explained to The Catoctin Banner in 2009.

Recently, Thurmont’s mayor John Kinnaird shared, “Other than a short time as a hair dresser shop this has been a community general merchandise store. I remember first going there with my parents when we moved to Apples Church Road in 1961. Generations of kids have stopped here after school at what was known as the East End Grocery to grab some penny candy, an ice cream bar, or some soda pop. Charlie Hobbs ran the store for many years and I also remember Pinky Ambrose having it for a time. Everyone probably remembers when it was known as the ‘Purple Store.’ Lots of memories for sure!”

The Hoffmans sold the building at auction in November and on December 12, they held a customer appreciation day for customers to stop in for a sandwich, a piece of cake, and to talk about old times. Then they prepared the sale of the store’s inside contents at an auction the upcoming Saturday.

When asked if they felt Reno would approve of the sale and closing of the store, Sharon said, “The last thing he told me was, ‘Sell that damn store!’” If you knew Reno, that’s just the way he would say it. He was ornery and loved by many. The market was for sale several times before Reno passed.

In the store, it felt as if Reno’s spirit was still around. Michelle said, “We heard him yesterday several times. He was making his presence known!”

The Hoffmans hold their customers and community in high regard. Sharon said, “Thank you for all the wonderful years of kindness, patronage, and friendship. We’ve made a lot of friends that we consider family.”

Note: The Hoffmans have been long time supporters of The Catoctin Banner.  The market served as a distribution point where readers could pick up a copy of our latest edition. We are grateful.

Michelle Hoffman (left) is shown with her daughter Nicole Wentz, and her mother Sharon Hoffman on December 14, 2023 preparing the market’s contents for public auction Saturday, December 16, 2023.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

December 12, 2023, was Customer appreciation Day at Hoffman’s. Pictured left to right are Karen Kinnaird, John Kinnaird, Sharon Hoffman, Michelle Hoffman, Kinsley Wentz, Bradley Wentz, and Nicole Wentz.

Courtesy John Kinnaird

Customers miss Reno Hoffman. He was ornery but sweet with a tell-ya-like-it-is manner. Here he is pictured in an August 2009 Catoctin Banner photo. He passed away October 19, 2021. He and Sharon were married for 56 years and purchased the former Anna’s Market building in 1987.

Photo by Carie Stafford

The Hoffmans handed out 2024 calendar keepsakes to visitors.

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.

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

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont Middle School Administrative Secretary Christine Newman was going through the long-unused cabinets in the old records room of the school when she came across a time capsule of sorts.

The cabinets contained books of middle school class photos from the 1969-1970 school year (its first year as Thurmont Middle School), graduation announcements, newspaper clippings about the building, and the student ledger with who attended Thurmont School in the building in early decades of the 20th century. The student ledger is essentially the school record of each student, showing their personal information, classes taken, and grades.

Newman also found three battered loving cups that had been awarded to students for various achievements.

Parts of the current Thurmont Middle School building were constructed in 1915 when the building served 11 grades. The gym and cafeteria were added in 1949 along Summit Avenue. The building has since undergone renovations and rebuilds and has served the community at the middle school since Catoctin High School opened in 1969.

Newman showed the items to Principal Janine Smith. She realized what they were and realized these pieces of local history belonged with the Thurmont Historical Society.

Newman and Smith presented the items to Ronald Pearcey, Thurmont Historical Society treasurer, last month at the school.

The items are available for research and viewing at the Thurmont Historical Society.

Thurmont Middle School Principal Janine Smith, Administrative Secretary Christine Newman, and Thurmont Historical Society Treasurer Ronald Pearcey look over the historical documents that were recently found at the school.

On Monday, October 17, the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Lions Clubs are hosting a Candidates Forum for candidates running for Frederick County Council in District 5 and At-large, as well as candidates for County Executive. The County Council candidates include District 5—Mason Carter (R) and Julianna Lufkin (D); At-large—Tony Chmelik (R), Phil Dacey (R), Renee Knapp (D), Brad Young (D). County Executive candidates are Jessica Fitzwater (D) and Michael Hough (R).

The Lions Club holds these candidate forums as a service to our community so that residents of Northern Frederick County can hear directly from candidates about issues that concern them and so that they may be better informed voters.

The forum will be held at the Thurmont Middle School Cafeteria, located at 408 E. Main Street in Thurmont. The entrance and parking are off Summit Avenue. It will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Monday October 17 and end around 9:15 p.m.

The first part of the evening will be a forum just for County Council candidates and the last part of the evening will be for County Executive candidates.

Thurmont Middle School’s Rebecca Krauss (pictured right) was one of three school counselors recognized by Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) for the Frederick County School Counselor Association’s 2021 School Counselors of the Year.

School counselors have played pivotal roles helping students, parents, teachers, and community agencies navigate the global health crisis and help address physical, emotional, and social needs. There were 270 nominations for School Counselor of the Year.

Rebecca Krauss has been a school counselor with FCPS for 19 years. She, along with her counseling team at Thurmont Middle School, created a peer ambassador program with the goal of empowering students to become leaders and make positive connections with their peers. Two of the programs that she spearheaded were “Start with Hello Week” and “Kindness Challenge Week,” in which the peer ambassadors also helped to facilitate. She uses her training in Restorative Practices and Zones of Regulation in her work with students. Krauss has been a member of her School Improvement Team and Positive Behavior Team. She has also helped lead several small groups within her school with various partnerships, including Advanced Behavioral Health, Girl Scouts, and the Frederick County Health Department.Courtesy Photo

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

While people have been carefully navigating the daring dance with COVID-19, the world has been faced with lockdowns and restrictions.

In the resulting chaos, everyday life changed for us all. The stressful situation took a toll on those who were confined to their homes, sending some into a boredom frenzy and making others feel stir-crazy.

Although still relatively restricted, people have slowly adjusted over time and become very creative with what they do in their free time.

Many have stayed busy by engaging in hobbies, ranging from making face masks to writing stories. Others have committed to helping others during this time by supporting small businesses, supporting the food banks, providing for those who can’t go out, and much more. This has been beneficial to the community and its citizens in this time of need.

Besides supporting the community in various ways, there are other hobbies people have developed for fun. Personally, I’ve started writing more stories, drawing, painting, and trying new recipes. I also found a new hobby of crafting sticks into wands. It gives me a project to focus on that I have fun doing. Not only has this helped me cope with the sweeping lifestyle changes, but it’s helped me discover other interests as well.

Eighth graders Olivia Johnson of Western Heights Middle School in Washington County and Kendall Stuart, a home-schooled student, spoke of how they have occupied their time over the past year.

“I started writing and making TikToks more,” Johnson said. “That’s mainly what I’ve done to keep myself busy.” Although our conversation was brief, she went on to explain that there hadn’t been a whole lot she had become interested in, as writing takes up most of her time. This keeps her occupied during the time she isn’t in school.

Stuart committed time to personally enriching hobbies, “So far, I have started making YouTube videos, TikTok videos, and improving my makeup skills and dancing skills. I mainly focus on improving my makeup and dancing. I’m trying to work toward my goal of being a professional makeup artist.” Stuart agreed that these activities have kept her busy during her out-of-school free time.

Both have found pastimes that they enjoy and that keep them active. 

While randomly asking members of the community about their hobbies, the most popular answers were arts and crafts, such as wreath-making; drawing; painting; making face masks for the community; pursuing outdoor activities; and spending more time with family. It seems people have started doing activities they did not have time for before the pandemic. I feel like people have realized what they were missing before it all started.

The quarantine has given people time to connect with their families and to have more free time to explore creative outlets. It also taught many a lesson like cherishing what they have before it’s too late, and to be grateful.

Similarly, new hobbies such as cooking, storytelling, making online videos, creating music, designing, and far more, have been chosen by people along the way to keep away the lockdown boredom.

As time progresses, many will likely stick with the new hobbies and skills they gained during this difficult time.

Jayden Myers, Eighth-Grade Student at Thurmont Middle School

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, it has left many establishments and businesses closed down, including schools. Following the closings of schools, students and teachers began using an alternative to in-person classes in the form of virtual school. This has been a hard transition for many, as they were no longer able to meet in person and receive that one-on-one instruction. What was supposed to be only a few weeks of missing school to flatten a COVID curve, has turned into a long-term struggle for nearly a year. Students and teachers alike have been affected, and it leaves the decision of returning back to school questionable in many ways.

Students have their own opinion of online school, whether it be good or bad. As an eighth-grade student at Thurmont Middle School, I understand some of the challenges. One of the main issues that students face—myself included—is the ability to understand material in their classes. In school, learners could receive one-on-one help and get visual examples. Assignments are easier to comprehend when shown in-person rather than over a screen. Another issue that poses a challenge to students learning at home is distractions. As a student with ADHD, I sometimes have a hard time paying attention, and now that I’m home, I have many more distractions than I had at school. This is hard during online classes because my attention can quickly switch from my work over to something else, to the point I stop paying attention and I lose track of what I was doing.

In addition to the academic challenges, the loss of social interaction is also a concern.

The absence of social time greatly affects students. School provides social interaction with people rather than just a computer screen. Eighth-grader Olivia Johnson feels strongly against virtual schooling. “It’s the worst, and I hate it,” she said. “I would rather be in school to socialize, and it’s a lot easier to get help when you’re in school.” Liv continued to say, “It’s also a lot harder to focus because there are so many distractions.”

Liv’s days with virtual learning are challenging to say the least. “Every day, I have my main classes: E.L.A, science, history, and math. The days transition between A or B. On A days, I have one of my selected gym classes and tech. On B days, I have one of my extra classes and an extra help class for my last period,” she said. She explained that it switches every day, which makes it more difficult to follow her schedule. While this is just viewed through my perspective and Liv’s perspective, everyone feels differently about it, but the difficulties are apparent.

The in-school break has been tough for teachers, too.

For Michael Brown, a technology education teacher at Thurmont Middle School, virtual teaching is all new, and it hasn’t been easy. “One of the issues that I and other teachers have has been the plan on how to deliver instruction effectively,” Mr. Brown said. “Teachers also had to look at how to provide coherent instruction that was easily navigated and understood by all.” Mr. Brown continued, “The teachers had to think about how they would collaborate and plan together, especially for those who teach the same courses.”

These were just a few concerns that Mr. Brown and other teachers had as they began the journey into virtual instruction. As time goes on, the idea of returning back to school continues to be discussed, laying the foundation for new plans to be made for a safe return.

Mr. Brown also spoke of some of the aspects of returning to school. He talked about the safety measures and rules that students and teachers would need to follow in order to keep everyone safe and schools open, when the time comes.

Life Skills teacher Vanessa Yost added to our discussion. “We must make sure students, both online and in-person, have their individual needs met,” she said. Mr. Brown added on to that, “Things are changing quickly, and it’s adding more instructional complexity.” They both agreed that the transitions will be challenging. “However, we have great faith in our FCPS students to transition smoothly and continue to make excellent growth.”

Teachers have not been blind to their students’ struggles. Mr. Brown and Miss Yost agreed that virtual learning has been tough, with isolation, focus challenges, and time management pressures. They also noted that building relationships between students has been challenging.

Students will be meeting one another for the first time in many cases and will have to get to know one another on a more personal level, not behind a screen.

Since the start of virtual school, students and teachers have faced many transitions and have risen to these challenges with positivity. Although the road ahead in returning to school will have its bumps along the way, we will continue moving forward. As you can see, the issues students and teachers have faced are complex, but we are all learning and we will continue to get better each and every day. As this uncertain time progresses, teachers and students will still face challenges, and they will meet them head-on to the best of their abilities.

Thurmont Middle School is now providing free breakfast, lunch, and supper seven days a week. Meals are provided Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the cafeteria of the middle school, located off of Summit Avenue in Thurmont.

All families get a free lunch on those days and an additional pantry bag on Fridays for all children in their homes. These pantry bags have been graciously donated by several local businesses and organizations in the Thurmont community. Free clothing is also available on Fridays. 

During winter break, Thurmont Middle School’s cafeteria will be open, providing free meals on December 28 and 30, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. For any other information, please contact Kelly Pizza, community liaison at Thurmont Middle School, at 240-236-5103 or

The Catoctin Church of Christ gave the Thurmont Middle School Weekend Pantry Bag Giveaway 300 snack bags to be handed out to students desiring supplemental snacks for the weekend.

The Church of Christ is an autonomous Christian congregation that is associated with one another through Bible-only doctrine. It was established on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 27. The seed was planted in Thurmont in March 1996, when 15 members who were traveling to Frederick decided to make it their mission to establish the Lord’s church in Thurmont. The church speaks where the Bible speaks and is silent on issues where the Bible is silent. They believe in staying as close to the Biblical teaching as is humanly possible. 

The church has grown from 15 members to approximately 90 members at present. Bible classes are offered on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. for all ages, and worship follows at 10:00 a.m. Visitors are always welcome, and they encourage questions, “because if what we are doing is not found in God’s Bible, we will change.”

If visiting, they ask that you wear a mask in keeping with Maryland’s request to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. Church services are also broadcast live on Facebook (, along with a calendar of activities, which includes the annual pig roast held for the community on the first Saturday in June.

Courtesy Photo

Tamara Manahan; Connor Manahan; Glenn Murray, elder; Richard Long, minister; Janine Smith, principal; and Anita Shank, assistant principal.

Thurmont Middle School will be handing out lunches for Thurmont-feeder families on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., in the cafeteria of the middle school, off Summit Avenue in Thurmont, until December 31, 2020. 

All families get a free lunch on those days and an additional pantry bag on Fridays for all children in their homes. These pantry bags have been graciously donated by several local businesses and organizations.

For any other information please contact Kelly Pizza, Community Liaison at Thurmont Middle School 240-236-5100.

Thurmont Middle School will be handing out lunches for Thurmont-feeder families on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., in the cafeteria of the middle school, off of Summit Avenue in Thurmont, until December 31, 2020. 

All families get a free lunch on those days and an additional pantry bag on Fridays for all children in their homes. These pantry bags have been graciously donated by several local businesses and organizations.

For any other information please contact Kelly Pizza, Community Liaison at Thurmont Middle School 240-236-5100.

The Thurmont Lions Club held a benefit breakfast for Luke Bradley (pictured right) on July 18, 2020, from 7:00-11:00 a.m., at Bell Hill, located just north of Thurmont.

Luke is the 10-year-old son of Dan and Tracey Bradley, and the grandson of Rick and Judy May. Luke and his parents were present at the breakfast to thank everyone who came out to support the family. Luke will be in sixth grade at Thurmont Middle School in the fall. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was two years old and has suffered from many medical conditions. He has undergone numerous surgeries over the years, and he will continue to need more operations in the years to come.

The breakfast raised (profit from the breakfast and donations) over $4,000.  If you wish to donate to Luke’s struggle with his many health issues, you can go to and make a donation. These funds are an enormous help to Luke’s family to pay for his medical expenses. 

Pictured left to right:  Delaney Hench, Griffin Hench, Joanna Genemans, Cooper DeLauter, Tala Mott, Wyatt Ferson, Wayne Ferson, Michael Metz, Tegan Mott, Will Kimbark, Mike Sanders, and Ben Kimbark. On the team and not represented in the picture: Annalise Abruzzese, Evan Stream, Nora Dugan, and Ethan Williams. 

The Thurmont Middle School team placed third overall (behind both of Urbana’s teams) in the Frederick County Science Olympiad Tournament on January 25, 2020. Susan Mize coached the team with the help of assistant coaches, Jesse Love, Melissa Carter, Bill and Donna Kimbark, Jan Gennemans, and Patty Ferson. The team earned the following awards: 1st Place—Circuit Lab, Mousetrap Vehicle; 2nd Place—Write it Do it; 3rd Place—Disease Detectives, Elastic Launched Glider, Food Science, Reach for the Stars, Road Scholar; 4th Place—Anatomy, Boomilever, Crime Busters, Ornithology, Ping Pong Parachute, Water Quality; 5th Place—Density Lab, Dynamic Planet; 6th Place—Experimental Design, Fossils.

There will be a Community Food and Clothing Giveaway on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at the Thurmont Middle School cafeteria, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Please park in the back parking lot by the gym. Come and check out the winter coats available. Please bring your own bags for food and clothing. Hosted by Thurmont Middle School and the Maryland Food Bank.

Part 6: The Challenge

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Adelsberger said nothing when she arrived at her Aunt Anna’s house in Graceham on the first warm day of 1973. She should have been happy or at least in a good mood with the 68-degree temperature and sunshine. She also knew she hadn’t killed her teacher, and she wasn’t responsible for her classmate Christine Weber’s death either. It was a burden lifted from her conscience, but it had been replaced with another problem.

“What’s wrong?” Aunt Anna asked as she mixed some herbs and spices to a stew cooking on the stove. She looked like a witch at that moment.

“Nothing,” Sarah muttered.

“Sure seems like something’s wrong. You’re usually not so quiet. Are you having bad dreams?”

The dreams of Mrs. Zentz, her science teacher at Thurmont Middle School, had seemed too real when she had them. Sarah knew now that they hadn’t been her dreams at all, but projections meant to anger her.

“No, but…” Sarah looked her aunt in the eyes. “I suppose you already knew that!”

Anna Eichholtz stopped what she was doing and rinsed off her hands. “What are you talking about?” she asked as she dried her hands on a dish towel.

“I know about the dreams,” Sarah said. “I know you used me.”

Anna gave a light snort. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never used you. I’ve tried to help you.”

Sarah jumped up from her chair. “You tried to help you! You used me to get what you wanted.”

She hadn’t wanted to say anything to her aunt, but once she started, everything started to spill out.

“What I wanted?” Her aunt smiled. It was a nasty smile Sarah had never seen on her aunt before. It scared her.

Her aunt said, “As I recall, you’re the one who killed two people.”

“No, I know that now! Stop lying!”

Sarah turned and sprinted from the house. She ran across a field to Hoovers Mill Road. Then, she kept running until she reached her house.

* * *

Sarah’s nightmares returned that night. Mrs. Zentz attacked Sarah and tried to kill her. It didn’t anger Sarah now, though. Mrs. Zentz hadn’t killed her when she had a reason to. She hadn’t even been angry with Sarah for sending the birds to attack her, or rather, thinking she had sent the birds.

“I’m not afraid,” Sarah told the dream Mrs. Zentz. “You’re not real.”

Mrs. Zentz opened her mouth and growl came out. Her teeth lengthened and sharpened. Her hair grew shaggy. Spikes poked out of her back, and her fingers lengthened into claws.

The sudden shift startled Sarah, but she quickly calmed down.

Then the dream monster attacked, and Sarah screamed.

* * *

Monica Adelsberger ran into her daughter’s bedroom, still pulling her robe on. Sarah lay on her bed thrashing and yelling in terror but still asleep.

Monica shook her daughter’s shoulder. “Sarah, wake up. You’re having a nightmare.”

Sarah didn’t wake, but she quieted down.

Monica patted Sarah’s cheek. “Wake up, honey.”

Sarah calmed somewhat at her touch. Then her eyes opened, and Monica saw her daughter’s blue eyes had turned pale, so only the pupils showed.

Monica drew back sharply. She knew what this meant. She had seen it before. Something supernatural was in control of Sarah. It wasn’t a demon or spirit; Monica had fought that type of possession before. It had to be another witch.

Sweat beaded on Sarah’s brow, and her hands clenched into fists at her sides. Monica pulled sweat-dampened hair off her daughter’s face.

“Don’t be angry, sweetheart,” she whispered into Sarah’s ear. “Don’t give into the anger. Release it. She can’t control what isn’t there.”

* * *

Barbara Zentz startled the women of her coven when she walked into the clearing. Donna Eyler even screamed as if she was seeing a ghost.

Kate Montgomery looked from Barbara to Anna Eichholtz and back. “Anna said you were dead,” Kate said.

Barbara held her hands out to her side. “As you can see, I’m not. I’ve been … indisposed for a few days, but I’m back and ready to take my place among my sisters.”

The women in the circle nodded, but Anna shook her head. “I lead the coven now.”

“But you lied to us,” Kate said. “You told us Barbara was dead.”

“A slight miscalculation.” Anna’s light-blue eyes narrowed. “One that can be corrected.”

“You aren’t more powerful than me,” Barbara said.

“I don’t have to be. I have the coven’s power.”

Barbara had hoped Anna would give up her quest for power when she saw Barbara was alive. Unlike most witches who tried to work with nature rather than force it to their bidding, Anna would not give up her power now that she controlled the power of the witches in coven. The only way for Barbara to take back leadership of coven was for Anna to give up the power or for her to die.

“A coven is not for one person to control,” Barbara said. “You lead a coven, otherwise, you are a thief not a witch.”

Anna laughed. “You sound afraid, Barbara, because I’ve done what you are afraid to do.”

“We won’t let you control us!” Barbara shouted.

“I could care less about you,” Anna said.

She waved her hand, and Barbara grabbed at her throat. She dropped to her knees trying to catch her breath.

“Do you understand now? Even if you had used your power against me, it is the power of one. I have the power of many.”

Barbara knew what was coming and managed to throw up a shield, but when Anna’s power hit, it still felt like being punched in the face. Barbara staggered back but held onto the shield.

Anna struck again, and the shield broke with ease. Ease for Anna. It hurt Barbara so much she screamed.

Some of the other witches struck at Anna with different spells, but Anna’s power included theirs. Her shields easily deflected the spells.

The fire in the center of the clearing flared, spitting out fireballs. The women ducked and rolled out of the way of the flames. Anna would have jumped out of the way, too, but her shields stopped the flames.

Then she saw Sarah shamble into the clearing.

Sarah was tired and her head ached, but she had pulled herself out of the nightmare with her mother’s help. Now she had to stop her aunt.

“It’s over, Aunt Anna,” Sarah said. “Stop this before more people get hurt.”

“Sarah, Sarah,” Anna said in a soothing voice. “I am protecting you from people who would hurt you if they had the chance.”

“I don’t know these women. They aren’t causing me pain.” Sarah rubbed her temples. “You are.”

“I can stop the pain.”

Anna lifted her hand and threw Sarah backward. Monica ran out of the woods to help Sarah.

Anna laughed. “You shouldn’t have come, Monica. This doesn’t concern you. You walked away from this life.”

“And you pulled my daughter into it!” Monica yelled.

Sarah threw her arm out, but nothing happened to Anna. Instead, a hard wind blew through the clearing, nearly extinguishing the fire. Mrs. Zentz was right. Sarah had power, but she couldn’t control it. She had never been trained.

Anna raised an arm in Sarah’s direction. Sarah wanted to create a shield to block whatever her aunt would do, but she didn’t know how. She felt her mother’s hand on her back, and Sarah felt a shield form around the two of them. Although Sarah saw nothing, the shield felt oily for a few moments. Then the feeling vanished.

Anna’s blue eyes widened. She frowned. “Poor, poor, Sarah. You must worry over whether the police will find out what you did to Christine. Did Sarah tell you she killed a girl, Monica?”

Her mother didn’t reply, or if she did, Sarah didn’t hear it. She was caught up in a vision as if she was Christine Weber collapsing beneath the weight of thousands of birds. They clawed at her and pecked at her. Sarah screamed in pain, and a bird pecked at her tongue. She saw the birds. Many of them had their eyes closed as if they didn’t want to see what they were doing. Amid the pain, she could feel a presence pressing on them from behind, forcing them to attack when they just wanted to fly away.

“No!” Sarah screamed, although she wasn’t sure whether she said it or just yelled it in the vision.

She hurt all over. Her hair. Her toenails. How could Christine have endured all this?

“Stop, please stop,” Sarah pleaded.

And the birds stopped. It was as if they were frozen in air. She wasn’t free of them, but they had stopped the attack, which is what Sarah had asked.

Was she finally controlling the birds? Did she want to control them? Mrs. Zentz had said magic shared was more powerful than forced magic like her aunt held. The birds might not be witches, but they were influenced by magic.

“Can you help me?” she asked.

The answer came from far away not from the flock of birds surrounding her. “You can make us.”

“I don’t want to do that. I want to stop the woman who is keeping you here.”

“Yes, we want to go,” the voice said. Were the birds speaking to her as one?

“Then help me stop her.”

“We are afraid.”

“I will give you the power to protect and control yourselves.” Sarah thought she could do this. Her mother’s touch had given her control, without controlling her like Aunt Anna had.

“We would be free?”

“Yes, but first she must be stopped.”

Sarah remembered her mother’s whispered voice when she had been caught in the fevered nightmare Aunt Anna had created. Release it. She can’t control what isn’t there. Sarah had released the anger then and the nightmare faded. She tried the same thing now except with the power she felt within her.

She opened her eyes and dropped to her knees suddenly weak. Anna still stood with her hand out to her sides. The other witches were on the ground. Sarah still stood, and she could feel her mother’s hand on her back, soothing her and giving her control.

“You are strong, Sarah, but control is more important. Control allows you to take the power you want,” Anna said.

“Not if I’ve already given it away,” Sarah said.

The birds flew into the clearing. Anna shifted her stance, and Sarah could tell she had gone from attacking to strengthening her shield, expecting the birds’ attack.

They didn’t attack, though. They kept their distance, flying around Anna faster and faster. They started glowing red, but that shifted to orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Sarah wasn’t sure she was actually seeing it until she heard her mother gasp.

“What’s happening?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t know,” her mother said. “It’s beautiful. They look magical.”

As the colors shifted, the birds chirped and tweeted. It should have been a deafening chaos of noise, but the sounds blended so that Sarah could imagine it as a chant.

Inside the circle, Anna screamed, but the birds weren’t close enough to harm her.

“Are we free?” the voice asked.

“I don’t control you,” Sarah said.

The birds flew off in all directions. Sarah was sure when she left the clearing most of the millions of birds that had been invading Graceham for the past few months would be gone.

Anna was gone, but the birds hadn’t been close enough to attack. Yet, they had stopped her as Sarah had asked them to do.

She saw movement where her aunt had been. It was a crow left behind. Sarah walked over to the crow as it hopped around on the ground. Its wings didn’t look injured, but it couldn’t fly. Sarah was surprised only one bird had been injured in that swirling flock.

Sarah stopped near the crow, and it looked up at her with its blue eyes.

Sarah gasped and kneeled down closer to the crow. It didn’t move away. It just stared at Sarah.

“Hello, Aunt Anna.”

Who would have thought birds had a sense of justice?

Thurmont Middle School (TMS) has partnered with the Maryland Food Bank and will be hosting a free food and clothing giveaway each month. The giveaway day will be the first Thursday of each month in the school’s cafeteria, from 4:00-6:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Community Liaison Kelly Pizza at 240-236-5178.

Part 4: Vengeance

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Adelsberger sat in silence beside her Aunt Anna as Anna drove her new corvette along Main Street in Thurmont. Sarah had always enjoyed driving in her aunt’s flashy cars, but not this morning.

The principal at Thurmont Middle School had suspended Sarah for three days for backtalking and being insubordinate to Mrs. Zentz, her science teacher. The principal told Sarah she needed to calm down and get her priorities straight. She also had to apologize to Mrs. Zentz when Sarah returned to school.

That would not happen, no matter how long they kept her out of school.

Aunt Anna had picked Sarah up from school because Sarah’s mother worked in Frederick and couldn’t leave early. Her parents would have plenty of time to yell at her this evening, and Sarah had no doubt she would be grounded, too.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Aunt Anna asked.

“So, if I’ve got this great power, why didn’t it protect me from getting suspended?” Sarah asked.

Her aunt had told her weeks ago that Sarah had some sort of power like a witch, but not a witch. Sarah wouldn’t have believed her except for the birds she had apparently summoned to attack Christine Weber. The birds had kept coming to Graceham even after the attack, and now the tiny town had millions of birds living in it.

“Maybe it will protect you,” Aunt Anna said.

Sarah stared out the side window at the houses whizzing by. “How? I’ve been suspended already.”

“But you aren’t in danger from it…at least not yet.”

Sarah turned to face her aunt. “So the power only protects me when I’m in danger?”


“Who decides when I’m in danger? The power?”

“You do.”

“If I decided, then I wouldn’t have been suspended. Mrs. Zentz would be…”

“Would be what?”

Sarah shrugged. “Nothing.” Dead. She had been about to say, “Mrs. Zentz would be dead.” Sarah didn’t really feel that way, did she? She didn’t like Mrs. Zentz, but the teacher had done nothing so bad Sarah should want her dead. What was wrong with her to think that?

“The power is strong in our family,” Anna said. “Not everyone has it, but all those who have it are women.”

Sarah frowned. “Am I a witch?”

“Yes, I guess you could call us that, but we’re not quite witches in the way most women who practice witchcraft nowadays are.”


“So many of them don’t have the power. They are seeking it, but if they don’t have it, they won’t gain it. Our numbers have been growing because of the women’s liberation movement, but more of those women becoming witches are angry feminists rather than true witches.”

Sarah cocked her head to the side. “And we’re real witches.” It was a statement rather than a question.

“Yes, and if you choose, you can use your power to do good and protect yourself from those who have wronged you. Who has wronged you, Sarah? Who can you use your power against?” Anna asked.

“Does it always have to be against someone?”

Anna smiled. “Oh, yes, the only way to grow your power is to use it to dominate others.”

Sarah’s brow furrowed. That didn’t sound right.

“I’ve been dreaming about Mrs. Zentz since Christine disappeared,” Sarah said. “At first, we just argued. Now we fight in the dreams. I think she wants to kill me.”

“She’s your science teacher, isn’t she?”

Sarah nodded.

“And she’s the reason you’re suspended?”

Sarah nodded again.

“Then I think your dreams are showing you how your power can help.”

Sarah’s brow furrowed. “By getting in a fight with her?”

“Not literally showing you, but it’s showing you your power can help you like it did with Christine.”

Her aunt made the S-turn near the Moravian Church, which pushed Sarah against the door so that she was staring at the old church. She felt a wave of guilt.

“I don’t know how I did that,” Sarah said. “It scared me.”

“You thought about her. You focused on her so your power could focus on her. Then you got rid of the problem.”

Sarah’s parents grounded her for a week and gave her extra chores as punishment. They also agreed with the principal. Sarah had to apologize to Mrs. Zentz.

On the last night of her suspension, Sarah dreamed of Mrs. Zentz again. They fought, but this time, Sarah killed her. As Sarah choked Mrs. Zentz to death, Sarah felt happy, euphoric even. When she woke up, she still felt ecstatic. The feeling disappeared when her mother drove her to school, and Sarah had to apologize to Mrs. Zentz. Rather than shake the teacher’s hand, Sarah wanted to lunge at her and choke her. The feeling frightened her.

Sarah seethed throughout the day. It wasn’t right that she should have to apologize. She had already been punished.

When the school day ended, Sarah rode the school bus home. However, she didn’t get off at her stop. She continued on to Rocky Ridge, which is where Mrs. Zentz lived. Sarah had found her teacher’s address in the telephone book. Sarah walked to the side of the small rancher so that she couldn’t be seen from the driveway.

Think about her. Focus on her, Aunt Anna had said.

Mrs. Zentz got home around 4:15 p.m. Sarah watched her car turn onto the driveway. She tried to stare at Mrs. Zentz through the front window of her Volkswagen Beetle, but the sun reflected off of it.

Think. Watch. Focus.

Sarah watched the birds flying towards her from all directions – crows, blackbirds, cowbirds, starlings, grackles. They landed and moved in close together to form a wide band of feathers around Mrs. Zentz and her car.

The car door opened and Mrs. Zentz stepped out. She looked at the staring birds and then glanced around. Was she looking for more birds or someone to help her?

Unconcerned, Mrs. Zentz started to walk toward her front door. The birds parted before her, but they weren’t hopping away. They toppled over and slid out of the way without Mrs. Zentz even touching them.

More birds arrived and flew at the teacher, but they seemed to bounce off an unseen wall and fall to the ground. Another flock flew in and was rebuffed, but Sarah could see Mrs. Zentz was sweating. Whatever she was doing to keep the birds away was wearing her down.

Think. Watch. Focus.

More birds arrived and swirled around Mrs. Zentz. Then the birds flew up and joined the melee. Sarah couldn’t see the teacher any longer. Too many birds were moving too fast.

Then the birds scattered, and like Christine, Mrs. Zentz was nowhere to be seen.

Sarah came out from her hiding place and walked over to where Mrs. Zentz had been standing. She saw no blood or scraps of material, but she also saw no sign of Mrs. Zentz.

What she did see was a patch of dirt. The grass had been pulled up to expose the dirt. A set of seven symbols had been drawn in the dirt in a circle. Nothing like that had happened when the birds attacked Christine.

What did they mean? They weren’t letters. Sarah had never seen anything like them.

Something told her they were wrong. They shouldn’t be here. They hadn’t been here before Mrs. Zentz came home. Now that they were, all Sarah knew was that they shouldn’t be.

Theresa Dardanell

Catoctin High School welcomes Jennifer Clements, Principal; Kelly Welty, Administrative Secretary; Olivia Aungst, English Teacher; Brian Brotherton, Science Teacher; Derrick Kaas, Math Teacher; Shawn Lees-Carr, English Teacher; Christopher Maze, Latin Teacher; Kaitlyn Masotta, Spanish Teacher; Stephanie Felmet, User Support Specialist.

Thurmont Middle School welcomes Rebecca Hunter, Language Arts Teacher; Todd Zinn, Career Technology Teacher; Brianne Green, History Teacher; Robert Almovodar, World Language Teacher; Aimee Watkins, Math Teacher; Krystal McKenzie, Special Education Instructional Assistant.

Thurmont Elementary School welcomes Sandy Smith, Media Specialist; Harry Hanna, Fifth Grade Teacher; Tammy Ferrell, Third Grade Teacher; Aaron Johnson, Physical Education Teacher; Kathryn Zumbrun, Music Teacher; Tammy Cody, User Support Specialist; Amanda Chapman, Beth Cochran, and Donna Smith, Special Education Instructional Assistants.

Thurmont Primary School welcomes Dr. Michele Baisey, Principal.

Lewistown Elementary School welcomes Ryan Hench, Art Teacher; Ashley Hood, Special Education Teacher; Allyson Gwinn, Fourth Grade Teacher; Emma Jozwiak, Third Grade Teacher; Todd Cutsail and Leslie Carbaugh, Pyramid Teachers.

Sabillasville Elementary School welcomes Jill Dutrow, Art Teacher; Gary Burgess, Physical Education Teacher; Carrie Trax, Music Teacher; Christine Ortiz, Special Education Instructional Assistant.

The Anger of Innocence

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

Part 2: The Power

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Sarah Adelsberger’s hand trembled as the 14-year-old reached for the bottle of Coca-Cola on her aunt’s kitchen table. She grasped the glass bottle with both hands and gulped down most of the soda until she thought a giant belch would explode from her throat.

Had she really seen thousands of birds attack another student from Thurmont Middle School? If not, then what had happened to Christine Weber? The birds had surrounded and covered her, and when they had left, Christine had vanished.

Sarah shivered and then smiled. It might be a terrifying image to recall, but Christine, her school tormentor, was gone.

A macaw landed on the table in front of Sarah. She jumped. It was just Francis, her Aunt Anna’s pet bird. Unlike any pet bird Sarah had ever seen, Francis wasn’t kept in a cage. He was allowed to fly around the house wherever he wanted. Amazingly, he always seemed to do his business in a sink or toilet. Aunt Anna insisted the bird wasn’t trained, but birds didn’t do that on their own, did they?

“Sarah, what’s wrong?”

Her aunt had stood up from the table to get herself a piece of apple pie. Now she stared at Sarah from the counter.

“I saw something today…I think it was horrible, but I’m not sure,” Sarah said.

“Tell me.”

So Sarah explained how she had followed Christine home after school to confront her and end Christine’s bullying. Sarah had been standing behind a tree, working up her courage to confront Christine, when the birds had attacked, and Christine had vanished.

“Marvelous,” Aunt Anna said when Sarah finished.

“Marvelous? Didn’t you listen? Christine vanished!”

Aunt Anna nodded. “I heard you. It was your power protecting you.”

Sarah shook her head. “My power? What power? What are you talking about?”

Aunt Anna pulled a chair near Sarah. She sat down across from her niece and held her hands. Anna Whitcomb was only 10 years older than Sarah, so they were more like friends than aunt and niece.

“I’ve been telling you that you have power. It runs in our family. If you have it, it makes itself known during puberty,” Anna said.

Sarah’s brow furrowed. This is what her aunt had been talking to her about since the school year had started? Sarah had just thought her aunt was a women’s libber, talking about the power of women in the 1970s.

But, this…this was unreal. Yet, Sarah had seen it happen.

“Christine was a bully,” her aunt said. “You told me so yourself.”

Sarah nodded slowly. “Christine had been picking on me again in school, calling me a cow.”

Sarah was pudgy, while Christine had hit puberty early and wore make-up so she looked like a high school prom queen. People said Sarah, her aunt, and Sarah’s mother all looked like sisters. Sarah only hoped that in 10 years she would look like her aunt with her shapely figure.

“Your power acted to protect you from Christine,” Anna said.

“But what about Christine?” Sarah asked. “All I found was a little bit of blood and a piece of her book bag.”

Sarah pulled the piece of blue canvas out of her pocket. She held it up for her aunt to see.

Anna smiled and nodded. “In that moment, you must have hated Christine for what she did to you, and your power worked through the familiars to take care of it for you.”

“My familiars?”

“Your spirit animal. Familiars can use our power to aid us when we need it. In our family, birds are often our familiars.”

Sarah glanced at Francis, who was still sitting on the table seemingly following the conversation. He even nodded when Sarah looked at him.

“But how?” Sarah asked.

Anna stroked Sarah’s hair. Their hair was the same color, but Sarah thought hers was stringy compared with her aunt’s lustrous, raven-black hair. “That doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that judging by the number of birds that responded to your need, you are very powerful, and that power will take care of any problems that threaten you.”

Sarah knew her aunt meant to comfort her, but the comment scared her.

When Sarah’s mother picked her up after she finished work, Sarah said nothing about what had happened to Christine. Aunt Anna had warned her that people who didn’t understand the power would not believe her or even fear her.

At the dinner table with her parents, Sarah stared out the window at the birds eating from one of the feeders that her mom maintained in the backyard.

“It’s late in the season for so many birds to be around,” her mother said when she noticed Sarah staring out the window.

“Is it?” Sarah said, barely paying attention to what her mother was saying.

“It’s November,” her mother said. “Most of them should have flown south to warmer places.”

“Why not all of them?”

“I guess they have a reason to stay. They’re lovely, aren’t they? I love to watch them fly. They are so free when they are in the air, gliding along on nothing but an air current.” Her mother sighed as she turned to watch three starlings hopping around on a bird feeder.

Later, after Sarah finished washing the dinner dishes, she put on a jacket and walked into the backyard to get closer to the birds.

She comes.

Sarah looked around but saw no one. “Who’s there?”

Will you make us act?

She realized the voice was in her head, but it wasn’t her voice. Then she saw a cowbird sitting at her feet. She held out her hand to the bird, and it flew up and landed on her palm. Sarah leaned closer and stared at the bird.

What would you force us to do this time?

“Is that your voice I’m hearing?”

Let us leave.

“Us? What? The birds?”

You are bad.

Sarah frowned. “What are you talking about?”

You force us.

“I don’t force you to do anything.”

You made us take the other one.

The other one must have meant Christine. She was the only one the birds had taken.

“I didn’t make you take her. The power did.” Sarah realized that she was arguing with a bird, but she couldn’t help it. She felt a surge of anger come from nowhere.

You are bad.

“Then go!” Sarah yelled. “If you want to leave so much. Go!”

The cowbird flew off of her hand, its wings flapping furiously. Sarah thought it would fly away, but it flew full force into the side of the house. She heard a sickening thud, and then the bird fell to the ground.

The anger vanished.

Sarah ran over and scooped up the bird in her hands. It didn’t move. She stroked its head gently.

“Don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.”

The bird’s head turned at an awkward angle. Its wings flapped, and suddenly it was standing in her hand.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

The bird stared at her, and Sarah realized that instead of black, the bird’s eyes were a smoky white.

Fly now.

Sarah heard the voice, but it wasn’t the same as the voice she had heard earlier. This one was deeper and sounded scratchy.

“It that you?” she asked.


The bird flew off.

Had she brought the bird back to life? What was happening to her?

Michael Metz (pictured right), sixth grader at Thurmont Middle School, traveled to Chicago to compete in the 2019 U.S. Middle and Elementary School History Bee National Championships on June 7-8, 2019.

History Bee is a buzzer-based quiz competition that tests students on knowledge of world history and culture from the earliest civilizations through the 20th century. Michael placed 32nd out of almost 260 sixth-grade students from across the country and advanced to the Quarterfinal round.

Michael qualified for the National Championships as one of the top 10 sixth-grade finalists at the Baltimore Regional History Bee Competition, held on March 30, 2019. As a Regional finalist, he also automatically qualified for the biennial International History Olympiad to be held July 2020. He was the only student from Frederick County to attend the National Championships.

Michael has been passionate about history from a very young age and studied a great deal to qualify for this competition. History Bee is an extracurricular club at Thurmont Middle School. Participating students meet once a week from the beginning of the school year and qualifiy to attend the Baltimore Regional Competition by taking an online exam over the winter. The students were assisted by Candace Desonier, advanced academic specialist at Thurmont Middle School, and supported by Thurmont Middle School Principal Daniel Enck.

Part 1: Taking Flight

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

The blackbird fell out of the sky, diving so close to Christine Weber’s head that the blonde 13-year-old had to duck to keep the bird from tangling in her hair. She flapped her arms over her head trying to drive it off. When it didn’t land in her hair or claw at her, Christine straightened up and looked around.

The blackbird stood on the side of the road about six feet in front of her. It stared at her with unblinking dark eyes.

“Shoo!” Christine said, waving her hands toward the bird.

It didn’t fly away or even hop around. It might as well have been a statue.

She thought of swinging her book bag at the bird, but she didn’t want to anger it so that it would fly at her.

Christine walked around the blackbird giving it a wide berth. It turned to watch her as she walked.

She traveled the quarter mile between her home on Graceham Road and the bus stop twice a day during the school year. She’d seen plenty of birds during that time; crows, robins, cardinals, once even a hummingbird had zipped by her, but she had never seen a bird act as odd as this one. Occasionally, a bird would fly near her and even land on the street, but it always flew off if she got too close. She didn’t intimidate this bird at all.

She kept walking down the road. She couldn’t let a stupid bird delay her.

Christine thought about the homework she had to do tonight. Her teachers at Thurmont Middle School had no shortage of papers and projects to assign her, but she was an eighth grader. Next year, in the fall of 1974, she’d be a freshman at Catoctin High School, and she had to be ready. Tonight’s assignments would take at least an hour to do, and her mother would set her down at the kitchen table with a glass of Kool-Aid and expect her to get to work when she got home. She hoped she could finish quickly enough to have time to go over to Marci Robertson’s house and listen to the new Kool and the Gang, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and Jackson albums that Marci had gotten for her birthday. Christine especially enjoyed grooving to “Dancing Machine” by the Jackson Five.

She paused when she saw the pair of blackbirds standing on the side of the road staring at her. They stood there in the grass, not moving. Christine stopped and turned back. The bird that had dive-bombed her still stood on the edge of the road not doing anything but staring at her.


When she turned around to start walking, a cowbird stood in front of her, so close she could have easily kicked it. She was tempted to do so, but it didn’t seem right. Like the other birds, this one didn’t hop around or peck at the ground. It just watched her. It wasn’t doing her any harm or even annoying her. It was just…weird.

She stepped around the bird and kept walking, although now she walked faster than she had been. She wanted to be inside her house. She wouldn’t have to see these odd birds there or feel their eyes upon her.

A half a dozen starlings landed on a power line that ran above the road. That was nothing unusual except that they also stared at her.

Christine shook her head. She had to be imagining this. One bird might stare at her but not every bird she saw.

She hurried down the road until she saw the flock of blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, and starlings sitting on the road. There must have been hundreds of them. They formed a thick line, not only blocking the road, but stretching a yard or more to either side of the road.

Christine stopped. She couldn’t walk through the birds, although she might kick her way through them. She was beginning to doubt that though, as all these birds stood unmoving and staring at her. She wished for a car to drive up, so she could hitch a ride. At this point, she didn’t even care who was driving. Let the car drive right through this line of birds. They would either fly away or be flattened.

She hurried onto the field next to the road, planning to go around the line of birds, but they all turned in unison and hopped to stay in front of her. Christine ran in the other direction, thinking she could move faster than the birds and get around them. They took flight to move quickly to block her path.

Christine couldn’t be sure, but it seemed there were more birds now than before their short flight.

Then, even as she watched, a flock of birds flew in from the direction of Thurmont. They swirled around overhead and landed in a circle around the young girl. Thousands of birds formed a solid circle around her that was six-feet wide.

Christine turned looking for a way through the line. It was too broad for her to jump over. She swung her book bag at the birds. They didn’t move, and she knocked them over like bowling pins. The fallen birds flapped their wings until they could get their feet under them again.

Christine suddenly realized what made her so uneasy about the birds, in addition to their staring. The birds that had fallen over hadn’t made a sound, not when the book bag had toppled them and not when they had struggled to stand up. If Christine had been hit with a book bag, she would have yelled, and she was a lot bigger than a bird.

“Help!” she shouted, hoping someone in a nearby house would come out to help her.

Someone had to be nearby. She wasn’t so sure what anyone could do to help her. If the birds wouldn’t move for her, they wouldn’t move for anyone else. Christine would feel easier, though, if she wasn’t so badly outnumbered. Not that 5,000 birds to two people was much better than 5,000 birds against just her.

“Help! Somebody, help me!”

No one came, and no one was in sight. She was on her own.

Christine suddenly yelled and ran toward the outside of the line. She kicked at the birds and judging by the crunch she heard, she stepped on at least one of them. And still none of them made a sound.

She had only taken a few steps into the birds when they took flight and flew in a circle around her. Christine stood in the center of it all, afraid to try and push through the swirling wall of birds in front of her.


She doubted anyone could hear her. She could barely hear herself among the beating of wings. Christine looked up at the sky in time to see the swirling birds close the gap of sunlight.


Sarah Adelsberger stepped out from behind the blue spruce tree so she could see things better. The swirling flock of birds numbered at least 10,000, probably more. They spun in a tight circle as large as a house.

Even as she watched, the circle tightened and grew denser so that no flashes of daylight could be seen through the column. Then the birds shot off in all directions in a wild flurry.

Sarah walked across the field and crossed the street. She came to a stop where the column of birds had been. She saw a few spots of blood on the grass and a quarter-size piece of canvas from Christine’s book bag, but that was all.

Sarah picked up the piece of canvas and put it in her pocket. Then she looked into the sky at the birds, most of which were specks against the sky as they flew off.

Somehow, she knew they wouldn’t go too far. They had come for a purpose.

To be continued…

Old Glory

Poem by Francis Smith

Yes, Sir! I can see

Old Glory proudly perched

Upon her battered staff.

            And yes, at five a.m.;

            In the glorious light of dawn,

            Old Glory holds her own

            Above the sturdy ramparts

            Of old Baltimore’s

            Fort McHenry.

As you may know,

A famous old church tune

Kept surging in the soul

Of that wakened spirit

Of Francis Scott Key.

            As the patriotic hymn

            Kept Francis humming

            Its age-old tune,

            The dawn also broke

            In his fertile brain.

To his delight, his thoughts

Of war and peace

Burst into the solemn melody;

The words for the tune

And so was born

Our ‘Star Spangled Banner’

In “dawn’s early light.”   


Poem by Amanda Sweeney

I know my soul,  my courage,  my life, I have tested myself to change out of the old soul,  I poisoned with tragic misery of not how I can explain from the torture I went through  with no passion,  now I seek and found my passion with my beast,  my beast helps keeps me controlled with the right soul I found with him, I begin to now find love with more than ever, the happiness finds me gratitudes I yet have not never seen all yet, but it will never end with my beast, to keep find the right and blessed eternity of great pleasures we keep in our souls make one of the soulmates we are meant to be, through pain, suffering, aches,  headaches of all kinds, love, sadness, happiness is the most of all to not complain, we just want to be the turtle doves, the angels that GOD keeps in his nature to live a full long life, to not complain at all!   


On Catoctin

Photo by Debbie Wivell

The photo shows the Roddy Road covered bridge, just north of Thurmont, off of US 15, where Roddy Creek Road meets Roddy Road at Owens Creek.

Debbie Wivell took this beautiful photo of the historic bridge on Saturday morning, June 1, 2019.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge, built in 1856, is a small, one-lane Kingpost design wooden covered bridge. It crosses Owen’s Creek near Thurmont. It is 40 feet long, 16 feet wide, with a 12 foot-8 inch clearance.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge is the smallest of the county’s covered bridges. There are two more covered bridges close by; the Loy’s Station Covered Bridge and the Utica Covered Bridge.

Explore the natural beauty of this park and bridge, go fishing, or relax with a picnic.

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.

The Thurmont Middle School (TMS) Show Choir is entering its competition season. The performing arts group has performed at the TMS Winter Concert and practices weekly to prepare for a very large chorus and show choir competition in Midlothian, Virginia. The Koste Classic (mid-March) invites middle and high schools from the Atlantic region to compete, bringing along their own musicians and choreography teams.

TMS Show Choir is directed by music and theatre arts director Berna LaForce. LaForce has a reputation as one of the best middle school directors in this part of the country. TMS Show Choir will also compete in early May at Music in the Parks in Hershey, Pennsylvania. They plan to perform again at the TMS Spring Concert on May 7, 2019, at 6:30 p.m. in the TMS auditorium (open to the public).

TMS Show Choir is supported as a school club by donations, membership fees, and fundraisers. If you’d like to donate to the program and keep the performing arts alive for our middle school youth, please mail your donation to TMS Show Choir, 408 E. Main Street, Thurmont, MD 21788.

Thurmont Middle School Show Choir (from left): (front row) Erin Miller, Abby Moreland, Emma Stream, Richie Coursey, Aubrey Summerall, Daniel Martin, Colette Hartman, Lilyann Welty, Caitlin Werlang; (middle row) Kylie Perhach, Kaysalee Romero, Madelyn Greco, McKenna Gisriel, Zeke Frei, Dustin Zimmerman, George Hawkins, Nathaneal Hahn, Kacey Perhach, Jazmyn Weedon, Ariana Onley; (back row) Morgan Ridenour, Emily Burrier, Abigail May, Hailey Dawson, Colin Byrne, Alex Contreras, Patrick Dugan, Faith Bentz, Sophia Daly, Alison Brawner, Natalie Hoyt. Not Pictured: Mason Healy and Hunter Hurley.