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Thompson retires, was welcoming presence at Hiss United Methodist [Loch Raven]

If you happened to visit Hiss United Methodist Church over the last ten years, chances are you were greeted by Dianne Thompson, director of evangelism and communications. For most of those years, she has handed out welcome packets loaded with goodies including popcorn with the message "Thank you for popping by!" Janey Snyder, administrative assistant at the church reported that Thompson's warm welcome and bubbly personality made guests feel welcome and said "many people will tell you that she is why they became a member of Hiss."

She helped to create a welcome center at the church. Thompson followed up with cards and organized new-member classes twice a year. And when a guest joined the church, she introduced them to the congregation with a brief biography in the monthly newsletter.

But Thompson had many more responsibilities at the church. Over the years, she has helped plan and organize many special events and programs, including annual women's retreats, a community Easter egg hunt at the church, a blessing of the pets service, trunk or treat at Halloween, collection of back-to-school supplies, Veterans Day service, alternative gift markets at holiday time, a booth at the Parkville Fair, first responders Sunday, ice cream social, volunteer recognition and potluck dinner, and special recognition of Golden members (people who have been Hiss members for 50 or more years.)

Sending out press releases to area papers, serving as the church photographer, designing fliers and writing a monthly newsletter were also her responsibility.

As much as she loves her work, she also has five young grandchildren tugging at her heartstrings and has found it time to retire. She is the mother of two, each with families of their own. Her son, Ian, his wife and 3 children live in Okinawa, Japan ,and her daughter Amanda, her husband and two children live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Retirement will provide her the opportunity to travel to see the family more often.

Raised on a farm in northern Baltimore County, she married James Thompson and taught home economics teacher for seven years in Baltimore County until her kids were born. After they started school, she taught pre-school at Towson Presbyterian Church for 17 years.

Thompson's retirement, effective Jan. 1 will also provide time for her hobbies that include quilting, reading, volunteering for Meals on Wheels and serving as a Stephen Minister at Hiss.

The congregants at Hiss celebrated her retirement and offered thanks for all of her work at the church at a reception after a service in mid December.

Ellen Poorman-McLaren had more to celebrate than Christmas this year. On Dec. 19, she graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education. The degree fulfilled the requirements to reach her lifelong goal to be a teacher of young children. A recipient of a senatorial scholarship from Maryland District 42, state Sen. Jim Brochin's office, and a Charlotte Newcombe Foundation Scholarship, she did her student teaching at Jessup Elementary School in Anne Arundel County in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.

This degree was long awaited. It has been nearly 17 years since she earned her AA degree from Villa Julie. In the interim, she has worked at various jobs while raising 2 sons and a daughter and doing various volunteer jobs such as Girl Scout leader. But she couldn't forget her dream. So in January, 2010 she returned to college with one son in college, one son in high school and a daughter in middle school.

She has been on various interviews and is hoping to be working in a classroom during this school year! Congratulations Ellen!

Special things were happening at Pleasant Plains Elementary School just before the holiday break. Two hundred students participated in a bowl-a-thon Dec. 19 to benefit the Children's Cancer Foundation. Before the event the students, asked friends and relatives for pledges; they collected more than $2600 to help pay for research to fight childhood cancer. In the prior six years, Pleasant Plains student body has raised more than $15,000 for the Children's Cancer Foundation. Physical education teacher Steve Ye said, "Students are applauded for their hard work, community service, and dedication to this beneficial cause."

Fifth-graders at Pleasant Plains are teaching ballroom dancing to the underclassmen! They acquired and refined the skills when Christine Cox, a professional dancer and teacher from New York City, held classes for them at the school. For four days, the students learned and practiced the merengue, tango, swing, and cha-cha. Finally, they performed their new skills for parents, guests and the rest of the Pleasant Plains student body. They are teaching the steps and the discipline and social skills that go along with dancing.

Contact me by Sunday to read your news here!

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