The members of the Harford County Board of Education spent nearly two thirds of their roughly 80-minute meeting Tuesday honoring students, faculty, parents, school officials and even one of their own for their contributions to Harford County Public Schools.
School leaders began with the members of the 2013 Superintendent's Student Advisory Council. The 22-member council is made up of students drawn from middle and high schools throughout Harford County and meets four times a year with the superintendent to discuss how school system policies affect students.
Superintendent Robert Tomback said the council members serve as the "eyes and ears" of Harford County's 38,000 public school students.
He praised the student council members, calling them "some exceptionally mature, intellectually gifted students."
"This is the group that is really affected by the decisions that are made by the leadership of the school system," Tomback said.
Board members then recognized the 12 Harford County Destination Imagination teams which competed in this month's Global Competition held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.
The seven-member teams, which represent local elementary, middle and high schools, "choose one of six challenges that focus on creative problem-solving and engineering," according to documents provided by school officials.
Sixty teams accepted the DI challenge in the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year; teams from Cecil and Harford County public and private schools competed in the East Central Regional challenge in March, which was held at Edgewood High School, and 38 Harford County Public Schools teams went on to the state tournament, held in mid-April at the UMBC.
The members of the teams which competed in the global tournament stood before the school board, with their families in the audience. Many wore colorful team T-shirts, and several teams dressed in elaborate costumes.
Marcia Cole, co-regional director of DI for Cecil and Harford Counties, thanked school officials for their support.
"Not all counties have the support we have, and we are very, very grateful for it," she said.
Carol Vach, a Ring Factory Elementary School parent, was recognized as a semi-finalist in this year's Parent Involvement Matters Awards program.
Vach was one of 24 semifinalists representing all of the state's school districts in the program, sponsored by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Vach is vice president of the school's Parent-Teacher Association, and is involved in the planning of a number of major school events during the year.
Lisa Minutoli, a vice principal at Ring Factory, said Vach "has been the backbone of all school activities for the last five years."
Vach was recognized along with her 13-year-old daughter, Olivia, a student at Patterson Mill Middle School, and 11-year-old son Nicholas, who attends Ring Factory.
The board also recognized Jim Jewell, assistant superintendent for business services, who recently received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.
The school board recognized its outgoing student member, Patterson Mill High School senior Panashe Mutombo. Mutombo, who will attend the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut in the fall, was the student representative for the 2012-13 school year.
Board President Francis "Rick" Grambo noted he was the first student member to complete a full term with voting rights.
Mutombo's fellow board members gave him high praise.
"You have been fantastic to work with," Vice President Nancy Reynolds said. "You are a role model."