Much noteworthy news was made in education in Harford County during 2017, not all of it strictly in the classroom.
Thanks to a mild winter with few missed days for bad weather and Gov. Larry Hogan, Harford's public school students enjoyed one of their longest summer vacations in years.
Classes ended for the summer on June 9 and did not resume until Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day, in accordance with the governor's executive order that public schools not start the year until after the holiday.
Upper grades students moved into their area of the new Youth's Benefit Elementary School building in Fallston in early November. Though the move came a few months later than scheduled, in marked the completion of the $38 million project to replace one of Harford County's oldest elementary school buildings.
The planned replacement building for Havre de Grace's high and middle schools took a giant step forward in 2017, when the Harford County Board of Education in November approved the contracts for construction. A spring 2018 groundbreaking is planned, with completion anticipated in 2020.
The Harford school board, in a somewhat contentious vote, chose new leaders in June, with Joseph Voskuhl moving up to president, replacing Nancy Reynolds, and Laura Runyeon replacing Voskuhl as vice president.
Amy Mangold, a special education teacher at John Archer School in Bel Air, was named Harford County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in March.
"I have received so many well wishes over the past week, and truthfully, if my name had not been called, I truly felt like a winner," Mangold said after receiving the award at the annual TOY banquet. "This has been an amazing experience and has had me reflect on my role as an educator and a person in a way I have never been able to reflect before."
A 14-year teacher with HCPS, Mangold works with children between the ages of 3 and 6 at John Archer. She also spent three years teaching at Edgewood Elementary School. In the fall, she was named a finalist for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Fallston Middle School was named a 2017-18 Maryland Blue Ribbon School by the Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education, in recognition of its students achieving at very high levels.
"Fallston Middle School epitomizes what it means to be a Blue Ribbon School," Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara P. Canavan said in a statement following the announcement of the award in December.
"I am honored to work with such a talented and dedicated group of professionals," Fallston Middle School Principal Anthony Bess said. "Their commitment to excellence is contagious and reflected in their daily instruction, collegiality and their unwavering drive to increase student achievement."
"To the faculty and staff, parents and business partners, and most importantly, the students, thanks for making Fallston Middle School a Maryland Blue Ribbon School," Bess added.
In September, St. John the Evangelist School in Hydes, Baltimore County, was named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in recognition of the private Catholic school's overall academic performance.
St. John's has 170 students in grades preschool through eight and draws more than half its enrollment from Harford County.
"I'm honored that we were recognized because our philosophy is that all children should have an opportunity to have a Catholic education," Principal Christine Blake said after the National Blue Ribbon announcement.
Blake said the school's small size (one homeroom per grade) and country setting give the school a close, safe, family-like feeling and means students don't "fall through the cracks."
Havre de Grace High School's Warrior Pride Marching Band once again strutted its stuff down New York City's Fifth Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.
Band director Richard Hauf led more than 150 musicians, flag team members and cheerleaders, many of whom marched in honor of family members who served in the military.
The Hosanna School and Museum in Darlington marked its 150th anniversary with an April banquet to recognize the educational and cultural contributions of the former Freedman's Bureau school and its sister institution, McComas Institute in Joppa.
Harford Community College celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1957, with a day-long Harford Fest held Oct. 28.
"Whether you have earned your degree, taught a class, attended a show or learned a new skill here, consider yourself a part of our 60th anniversary," HCC officials said in their invitation to the community to be part of the celebration. "If you have attended a concert, a camp, a graduation or a sporting event, you too are part of it. In fact, the entire community is part of our 60th."
The college's 350-acre campus off Thomas Run Road is used by 9,000 credit and more than 10,000 non-credit students. The college, whose first classes were held at Bel Air High School, has more than 1,000 employees.
HCC reached another milestone in 2017, when its central library marked its 50th year as Federal Depository Library.
Davita Vance-Cooks, director of the U.S. Government Publishing Office, presented a golden anniversary award to recognize the HCC Library's 50-year commitment to providing the public with access to federal government information.
"We are glad to provide all residents of Harford County and other nearby Maryland counties with free access to our collection of print, non-print, and digital government publications," Carol Allen, director for the library, said.