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Theresa Dardanell

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

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

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

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

Theresa Dardanell

Record crowds attended the performance of Grease at Catoctin High School (CHS) in March. According to director Cheryl Ehrlich, it was the highest attendance ever for a show at the school. Ehrlich expressed, “I couldn’t be more proud of the students, especially since many of the cast members had never been in a performance on stage before.” This was Ehrlich’s first year as the director at CHS, and she has made it a policy to give a large number of students the opportunity to be involved.

After the show, I spoke to cast members Colleen Slotwinski, Victoria Hoke, Tyler McNally, and Lauren Wotring.  Slotwinski, a senior, who has been involved in every performance since her freshman year, said that dancing in the poodle skirt was the best part of being in Grease.

Wotring, a junior, said that she enjoyed the partner dancing, but her favorite part was the opportunity to sing “Freddy My Love.”

Hoke, a senior, loved singing the song “Mooning” and dancing with her partner. She has been involved in nine shows during her four years at CHS.

“Greased Lightning” was McNally’s choice for the most fun. Grease and Oklahoma were the two performances he especially enjoyed being in during his four years at CHS.

Catoctin High teacher Benjamin Zamostny was the music director/tech manager, and Kylie Reed was the choreographer. The cast also included Jeffrey Wilson, Tara O’Donnell, Madelyne Jones, Eliza Phillips, Maddi Wehler, Aubrie Gadra, Matt Imes, Casey Ecker, Christopher Reed, Emma Appel, Jean Pembroke, Samantha Casperson, Sean Miller, Zavier White, Madeline Godlove, Adrianna Bussey, Mackenzie Myers, Emma Ford, Amelia Myers, Mackenzie Myers, and Teairah Velasquez. Crew members were Matthew Wilson, Josephine Isaacson-Echavarria, Sami Starkey, Lauren Haller, Jude O’Donnell, and Warren Corbin.

Grease cast performing “We Go Together.”

Theresa Dardanell

Every Friday at Catoctin High School, students get a “dose of positivity.” That’s how teacher and coach Michael Franklin describes Fired Up Friday. This weekly event provides an opportunity for students and staff to share positive experiences, encourage others through difficult times, acknowledge good deeds, and become motivated to be better citizens.

It all started in 2012 after the Sandy Hook School shootings. Mike Franklin, along with the physical education department staff—Dana Brashear, Doug Williams, and Amy Entwhistle—wanted to acknowledge positive instead of negative news.  A special event every Friday was created to recognize random acts of kindness. Students are encouraged to “catch” classmates doing something good, no matter how big or small.  One student saw someone drop a $10 bill in the hall. He picked it up and took it to him in his classroom.  Another student raised hundreds of dollars to donate to a charity.  Several students held a fundraiser for a classmate with a serious illness.  Another gave a special treat to all of the cafeteria workers and custodians to thank them for their hard work.  These students are only a few who have been recognized in the past five years. Along with the recognition they receive during the event, they get a special T-shirt. Andrew Franklin from Norris Auto has donated at least fifty T-shirts every year for this program.

This popular program has grown to include motivational speakers, who share their stories. Jason Polanski, a former CHS student who is blind,  talked about how he overcame hardships and how he faces his obstacles. Paratriathlete Scot Seiss shared his experiences.  Every year, during the special Friday college program, CHS alumni return and talk about the pressures they encounter and how to deal with them. Former CHS students, who are now police officers in Frederick County, were recently honored during one of the programs.

Some of the Friday events feature inspirational videos about topics that include random acts of kindness, leadership, teamwork, and awareness of disabilities. After the videos, students and staff have the opportunity to discuss what is presented and share their own personal experiences. A message in one of the videos sums up the program: “You can contribute. You have Value. You can serve others.”

Max Bingman earns a “Fired Up Friday” T-shirt for bringing every cafeteria worker and custodian a candy bar to show appreciation.

Leo Avie Hopcraft of the Catoctin High School (CHS) Leo Club has been awarded CHS Leo of the Year 2017, in recognition of her commitment to serving the Thurmont-Emmitsburg community as a high school student since her freshman year. Currently in her junior year, she has served over seventy hours as a Leo, with another ninety service hours for other activities and programs. She has held true to the “Leo Motto” for Leadership, Experience, and Opportunity.

Leo Avie was presented with the award during a ceremony held on March 8, 2017, during the Thurmont Lions Club “Youth Night.”  She has been a member of the CHS Leo Club, which is sponsored by the Thurmont Lions Club, for three years, beginning in her freshman year. She has participated in various club projects, including raising money and providing food donations for Thurmont Food Bank, volunteering for various community activities and events in Thurmont, and joining Thurmont Lions to support major fundraisers held in the area.

“It is very rewarding to help fulfill community needs, and it is a great honor to be presented with this award,” said Avie.

The CHS Leo Club has twenty-nine members and meets on the second Thursday of each month at Catoctin High School. Thurmont Lion Wendy Candela is the current Leo Club advisor, joined by Kathy Herrmann as the CHS faculty advisor. Young people enrolled at CHS who would like more information about the CHS Leo Club can contact Kathy Herrmann or Lion Advisor Wendy Candela at  Visit their website at for more information. Like the Leo Club on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Lions clubs sponsor approximately 5,800 Leo clubs in 140 countries. While helping others in their community, Leos develop leadership skills and experience teamwork in action. For more information about the Leo Club Program, visit the Youth Programs section of the Lions website at


The Emmitsburg High School Alumni would like to make sure that any class members who did not graduate but would like to come to the banquet are invited. If you know of anyone who attended Emmitsburg School at any time, please send his/her name, graduating class year, and mailing information, to the following address: Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association, c/o Sam Valentine, 11203 Keysville Road, Taneytown, MD 21787-1127 or by Email at The next reunion banquet will be held in October 2017.

It is time to recognize the special teacher who has made an impact on your child’s life and on your school community. Do you know a teacher who goes beyond what is expected? You can let this teacher know how important he/she has been to you by nominating him/her for the Thurmont Lions’ Teacher of the Year award. Anyone can nominate a teacher—parents, students, fellow teachers, and administrators.

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

All nominees will be recognized at a reception to be held on May 1, 2017, at the Thurmont Elementary School. The Teacher of the Year will be selected from these finalists by a committee of community leaders and will be announced at the Thurmont Lions’ Education Night on May 10, 2017.

Nomination forms are available at and at the Thurmont Regional Library. You may also pick up a form at your child’s school. Nomination forms (which include all the information necessary for submitting) are due no later than April 7, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact Lion Joyce Anthony at or 240-288-8748.

March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, has been designated Read Across America Day to promote childhood literacy. Last year, Mother Seton School held its first Read Across America Day at school with great success, and this year, the tradition continued at Mother Seton School.

Invited guests to this year’s event included Dr. Tim Trainor, president of Mount St. Mary’s University; Carla Brown, executive director of St. Joseph’s Ministries; Ned Remavege, private wealth fund manager and MSS alum; Deb Spalding, publisher of The Catoctin Banner newspaper; Lauren Schwarzmann, MSM Women’s Lacrosse coach; athletes from the Mount; and other area business and parish leaders. Each guest was assigned to a classroom and read a favorite Dr. Seuss book to students.

In addition to reading selected stories, guests answered questions and talked a little with each class. Dr. Trainor, who read Oh! The Places You’ll Go! to the eighth-grade class, spoke about his own diverse background and gave a motivational speech about the future the soon-to-be middle-school graduates had before them.

Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputies Theodore Mostoller and Louis Whitehead answered many excited questions about their jobs. “Not only were the kids great listeners, but they also asked really good questions at the end,” said Deputy Mostoller. Deputy Whitehouse agreed. “I believe the more positive interaction kids can get with the police, the better. For us (the police), specifically, this is a valuable opportunity for the police to build trust and have a fun thirty-minute interaction with a class,” he said. The students felt the same way. Middle School Language Arts teacher Amy Rarrick said her seventh graders loved the event. “They delighted in having a sheriff read to them, and appreciated the time he took to answer their questions about his career, education, and life experiences.”

Lauren Schwarzmann, who read Hunches in Bunches to one of the fourth-grade classes, said participating in the Read Across America event was a rewarding experience. “The opportunity to give back through reading, while empowering the students to dream big and follow their dreams, is something I will cherish,” she said. Tammy Wivell, who read Fox in Socks to her granddaughter’s Kindergarten class, was also grateful for her experience. “I really enjoyed being part of this event. MSS has been a part of my life for the past twenty-five years, and the day was extra special because I was able to share my love of reading with granddaughter, Lexi, and her friends.”

“Our Read Across America event is a wonderful opportunity to bring our students together with community and business leaders to explore careers and goal setting, as well as being enriched and having fun with our favorite childhood books by Dr. Seuss,” said Sister Brenda Monahan, D.C., MSS principal. “It’s important for our school to provide opportunities like this to encourage our students to build a love for reading and to demonstrate that we are all life-long learners, no matter the path we take in life.”

Mother Seton School invited area business and civic leaders to participate in their second annual Read Across America event on March 2, 2017. Pictured from left are: Theodore Mostoller, Frederick County Deputy Sheriff; Louis Whitehead, Frederick County Deputy Sheriff; Sister Brenda Monahan, D.C., MSS Principal; Terri Ziegler, retired MSS Learning Center Director; Katie Davis, PNC Bank; Lauren Schwarzmann, MSM Women’s Lacrosse Coach; Tammy Wivell, MSS grandparent; Sister Joan Corcoran, D.C., MSS Vice Principal; Ned Remavege, MSS ’61 and Private Wealth Fund Manager; (back) Mike Miller, Coordinator, SMAC Youth Group; Carla Brown, Executive Director St. Joseph’s Ministries; George Brenton, Campus Coordinator, Daughters of Charity; Bridget Bassler, Programs Coordinator, Seton Shrine; Dr. Tim Trainor, MSM President; Father Robert Malageski, Pastor, St. Mary’s Fairfield; Chase Boyle, MSM Track and Field Athlete; Kelly Maloney, MSM Lacrosse Athlete; and Deb Spalding, Publisher, The Catoctin Banner.

The Distinguished Graduate Organization of Catoctin High School (CHS) is accepting nominations for the 2017 awards. Community members are invited to nominate their choice of any CHS graduate (any year) who they feel is deserving of recognition in any of the five categories: academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and service. The community can also nominate a former CHS staff member (cafeteria worker, custodian, instructional aide, secretary, teacher, or administrator) to be recognized.

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

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

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded scholarships worth over $75,000 to area students! Scholarships are available to all graduating high school seniors from a Maryland State accredited public, private, and/or homeschool program, who reside within the Catoctin High School district boundaries as per the Frederick County Public School district map.

The Mary and Robert Remsberg Memorial Scholarship is worth up to $4,000. Scholarship funds would be distributed at $1,000 per year, for up to four years of continued education with passing grades from an accredited college or university.

Bernhard “Bernie” Cohen Memorial Scholarship Award is worth $1,000.

Scholarship application forms are available at the Catoctin High School Guidance Office and the Thurmont Public Library. Interested students must complete an application and return it to the location where it was obtained, on or before April 30, 2017.

The successful applicant and their family will be invited to Acacia Lodge’s annual Strawberry Festival in June for the presentation of the Scholarship.

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

At 6:30 p.m. on January 17, 2017, approximately twenty-four Lewistown Elementary School students were dressed in their PJ’s and ready for bed, but they weren’t at home. Along with their parents, they went back to school for Family Literacy Night, sponsored by the PTA.

The children brought blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows, and they made themselves comfortable. Through the magic of storytelling, Dr. Cook, Associate Professor of Education at Mt. St. Mary’s University, treated the children to a trip around the world in their minds. She began by telling a Pawnee Folk tale, Baby Rattlesnake, and invited the children to join in a rattlesnake song and dance. The trip around the world continued with a Ukrainian folk tale, an Australian adventure, and a story from China. The trip concluded with a bedtime story, Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein. Lewistown Elementary Literacy Specialist Abby Dillon said that the families enjoyed the relaxing night and that one student thanked her for “such a fun slumber party.”

Dr. Cook, Associate Professor of Education at Mt. St. Mary’s University, is pictured with Lewistown Elementary students and their families, during Literacy Night, held January 17, 2017.

Theresa Dardanell

Leadership, kindness, honesty, and a caring attitude are only a few of the characteristics of the students honored during the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on January 12, 2017, at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School. One student from each of the Frederick County Public Schools was chosen for this award. The quotes below are from the nominations submitted by the staff at each school in the Catoctin feeder area.

Michael Tylicki (senior at Catoctin High) was selected to represent Catoctin High School as this year’s King Award Winner because “He works well with all students, including those with special needs. Learning for Life students love Mikey for his kindness and willingness to help them. Instead of aligning with a specific peer group, he is really a friend to all. Michael is a humble student who is honest and cares about others. He is a quiet leader, mature beyond his years.”

Abigail Christian (eight-grade student at Thurmont Middle) was chosen for this honor because “She is a wonderfully caring and helpful student. She contributes to the learning environment, volunteering to tutor students having difficulty and sharing honestly with them with what they have to do. Because Abigail puts forth her best, she is able to earn very good grades. Abigail has a bright, infectious and sunny attitude, making her a positive role model. She is a considerate and respectful leader.”

Trey Glass (second-grade student at Thurmont Primary) received this award. Staff and students describe him as “displaying great heart power, perseverance by never giving up, and always having a positive can-do attitude.” They consider him a leader.

Patrick Payton (fifth-grade student at Thurmont Elementary) was presented with this award because “Patrick is all of the things one would expect of a young leader: honest, hardworking, and caring towards others; but Patrick is more than just these things. He is also the kind of person who holds high expectations for himself, making him a leader by example as well as by character.” Patrick is a Safety Patroller at Thurmont Elementary School.

Cody Faulkner (fifth-grade student at Emmitsburg Elementary) received this honor because “He continuously demonstrates the six pillars of character at Emmitsburg Elementary School. Cody follows directions the first time they are given and perseveres to complete assignments to the best of his ability. He is a quiet leader who consistently uses manners with adults and students. Through his actions, he encourages other students to make appropriate choices when solving problems. Humbly, Cody strives to help others at all times without being asked or without thought of praise or reward for himself.”

Jenna Conley (fifth-grade student at Lewistown Elementary) was chosen for this award because “Jenna has served as Peer Ambassador two years, is a Morning News crew member, and an art helper. She uses ROARing good behavior and lives her school motto to Learn, Excel and Succeed. A leader with gratitude, Jenna consistently includes others. She participates in Girls On The Run and is a great role model with a contagious upbeat attitude. She helps with classroom tasks and is trustworthy and honest, showing responsibility as she perseveres.”

Kylie Stracener (fifth-grade student at Sabillasville Elementary) received this award because “She consistently demonstrates the leadership qualities characteristic of Dr. King and the Pillars of Character Counts.”

The Community Foundation of Frederick County is pleased to announce its scholarship application is available for the 2017-2018 academic year beginning Wednesday, March 1, 2017.  By completing one general application, students may qualify for more than 250 scholarships. The completed application with required attachments must be submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, March 31.

Details about the scholarship program and the application can be accessed through the Community Foundation website at

Students about to complete their senior year of high school, students already enrolled in a trade school, college or university, and non-traditional students over the age of 21 are eligible to apply.  Scholarship criteria are established by the scholarship funds’ founding donors.  Some scholarships do not consider financial need.  All students are encouraged to apply.

The Community Foundation of Frederick County is a recognized leader in providing scholarships to area students, made possible by generous donors who establish funds, or add to existing funds. For the 2016-2017 academic year alone, the Community Foundation provided more than $1 million in scholarships to area students.

Once again this year, the Thurmont Lions Club proudly sponsors scholarship opportunities for Catoctin High School students, who are continuing their education at an institution of higher learning next year.

Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to four deserving CHS seniors later this spring at the local Lions Club Education Night, held in May. Applications for these scholarships can be picked up at the Counseling Office at Catoctin High School. Applications are due no later than April 10.

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

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

Applications may be obtained by contacting the guidance department at Catoctin High School (240-236-8082 Ryan Zimmerman) or calling Phyllis Kelly (717) 642-6963. All applications must be received by May 10, 2017.