Churches open doors for vacation Bible schools [Marriottsville/Sykesville/Woodstock]

Summer break began last week, and local churches are registering students now for vacation Bible school.

St. James United Methodist Church, at 12470 Old Frederick Road (Route 99) in Marriottsville, is trying something different this year: its VBS, "Gangway to Galilee," will take place on four Tuesdays in July rather than over the course of a week. The dates are July 8, 15, 22 and 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

For one child, the program costs $3 per evening or $10 for all four sessions. Two children from the same family cost $5 per session or $18 for the month, and three children cost $7 and $26, respectively. Call the church office at 410-442-2020 to register.

Kids can experience the story of Moses through a western wilderness theme, the Wild West Roundup, at Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, July 14-18, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, and the cost is $35 for one camper, $60 for two campers and $75 for three or more campers. Go to to register online. The address is 2600 Marriottsville Road.

Friendship Baptist Church, 1391 Sykesville Road, will kick off its free vacation Bible week on Sunday, July 13, with a family picnic from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Solerno's of Eldersburg will cater a delicious barbecue dinner.

Children and adults alike can then participate in the Bible school program, which runs 7 to 9 that evening and each consecutive evening through Thursday, July 17. This year's theme for children (infant through grade 12) is "Gotta Move," and the theme for adults is "Son of God." Call 410-442-5506 to register or learn more.

Additionally, Friendship church will offer a free Power Kidz Kamp for children grades K-5. The program takes place on Wednesday evenings, 6:45-8 p.m., and involves music, games, ice cream cones and puppet-led Bible stories. Parents may register their children at the time of arrival.

Interested in gardening? The Howard County Conservancy seeks drop-in volunteers to help maintain its many thematic gardens. If weather permits, stop by 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99), in Woodstock, any Wednesday between 9:30 a.m. and noon. All skill levels are welcome. For more information, email or call 410-465-8877.

A record number of students at Marriotts Ridge High School have received nominations for the 2015 All-Eastern music ensembles, which comprise the best student musicians from Maryland to Maine. To qualify for nomination, students must participate in All-State ensembles for two consecutive years and have the highest average audition scores for their voice or instrument.

A selection committee will winnow the nominees and then publish the final ensemble rosters in November. These groups will perform at the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Eastern Division Conference in Rhode Island in April 2015.

This year, Marriotts Ridge boasts eight All-Eastern instrumental nominees and 10 All-Eastern vocal nominees: Ashley Choi, violin; Alisa Hwang, cello; Emily Ingalls, bassoon; Grace Kim, violin; Courtney Loeb, bass clarinet; John McIntyre, viola; Katie Tich, flute; Niklas Schnake, French horn; Emily Anderson, alto; Molly Buch, soprano; Kyle Cochran, bass; Julia Fedor, soprano; Bethany Henderson, soprano; Dirk Holzman, bass; Lucy Park, alto; Alana Ravasio, alto; Zachary Seals, tenor and Isabella Stevens, soprano. Kudos to these music students and their very proud directors!

The school year has come to an end, so it is time to recognize West Friendship Elementary School's final Band Musicians of the Month. Congratulations to AJ Angarita, trumpet; Eric Ellis, trumpet; Luke Iannuzzi, percussion; Joshua Morton, tenor saxophone; Rona Okojie, clarinet; Jack Remmel, trombone; Emily Shim, flute; Joe Switzer, trumpet; Ethan Triska, clarinet; Jai Vaichalkar, percussion; Ella Walchko, flute; and Rowan Wilson, oboe. Keep practicing over the summer.

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