It's getting close to the start of yet another school year. Just a few short weeks and our kids will be back with their teachers, learning, asking questions, hitting the books, doing homework, rushing to extracurricular activities — all those things that make modern life seem so rushed.

I know one question that gets asked a lot around this time of year is, "when will the bus schedules be available?"

On Aug. 15, you will be able to view the tentative schedule at the Howard County Public School System (www.hcpss.org), where it will be updated daily.

Then, it will be published in the Howard County Times and the Columbia Flyer on Aug. 23.


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Also, this will be the last year that the bus schedules will be published in local publications.

If your middle or high school student is interested in leadership and volunteer opportunities, they will need to register by Aug. 17 to attend the Howard County Association of Student Councils Student Leadership Kickoff. Send your student's full name, school and the grade he/she will be starting to Ronnie Bohn at Ronnie_Bohm@hcpss.org.

Here are some important upcoming dates for students at Lime Kiln Middle School. A new student orientation will take place on Thursday, Aug. 23, from 9 to 10 a.m. There will be an open house on Thursday, Aug. 23, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Finally, the "Back to School Night" will be held on Thursday, Sept. 13, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Here's a helpful bit of information that newcomers to Reservoir High School might find helpful if their student is interested in playing in a fall sport.

The fall sports season begins on Aug. 11. All incoming 9th graders are academically eligible. Students in grades 10 through 12 must have achieved at least a 2.0 GPA and no failing grades.

The student will need the following: a current physical (it must be dated after April 1, 2012); a completed Athletic Participation form; a copy of his or her birth certificate; proof of residency (a BGE bill, phone bill, etc.); and, proof of insurance. All forms can be downloaded from the Reservoir High School website (www.rhsgators.com).

Finally, all students must pass a concussion test prior to the first practice. There are two concussion forms. They can be downloaded from the RHS website (click on the Athletics link) and they must be signed prior to this testing. The last testing session is Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. in rooms 300 and 301 at RHS.

If you have any questions about a sport, here are the names of the RHS head coaches (note — the e-mail address for each coach is of the form: firstname_lastname@hcpss.org). Volleyball: Carole Ferrante. Field Hockey: Lindsay Beil. Cross Country: Phil Rogers. Football: Bryan Cole. Cheerleading: Aimee Hall. Girls Soccer: Josh Sullivan. Boys Soccer: Reg Hahne. Golf: Karen Wolfe. Allied Soccer: Suzanne Hughes.

The administration got late word during the summer from the National Merit Scholarship Corp., notifying Principal Pat Saunderson of several students who will be considered for National Merit Commended Student, Semifinalist and Scholarship Finalist programs in the upcoming months.

They are Sylviane Alexion, Fiona Ball, Alexandra Barrett, Lauren Bork, Caitlin Engman, Wilson Hong, Edward Lafemina, Emily Miller, Julio Peredo, Jake Weber and Sophia Yang. Congratulations.

Some other late-breaking news about RHS staff members was also recently received by the school. Greg Knauf, Maria Tolson, and Matty Valvano were all selected as scholarship recipients for National Board Certification through a partnership between Howard County and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Margaret Brothman was selected as a K-12 Teacher Mentor as part of theUniversity of Maryland, College Park, Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar Program. She was nominated by Sarah Singer, a graduate of Reservoir High and a recently named Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar (Woo-hoo, Sarah!).

In her nomination letter, Sarah wrote, "Ms. Brothman encouraged my nontraditional thinking and spent hours helping me find words that best expressed my ideas. ... She encouraged me to submit poems to the Howard County Poetry and Literary Society (for which I won an award) and wrote a recommendation that earned me acceptance to the Young Writer's Workshop at Bard College at Simon's Rock. Ms. Brothman inspired me to keep writing when I entered University of Maryland."

In her essay, Sarah also talked about her desire to become an English educator some day because of the influence of outstanding teachers like Brothman.

Last but not least, Reg Hahne was named as a finalist for the University of Chicago's Outstanding Educator Award. His nomination was from a former student who said he was inspired by Hahne to think beyond the borders of the classroom in the pursuit of greater education. Congratulations to all of you. Well done.

Keep sending me those e-mails and phoning me up. I love hearing from you.