Do you know what a baroque trumpet is? Recently, Brandon Portnoff told me all about the instrument. As a member of the Centennial High School baroque trumpet ensemble — likely the only high school group of its kind — he know all about the bass piece. It dates back 250 years and has a unique feature — no values.

Do you know what a baroque trumpet is?

Recently, Brandon Portnoff told me all about the instrument. As a member of the Centennial High School Baroque Trumpet Ensemble, likely the only high school group of its kind, he knows all about the brass instrument. It dates back 250 years and has a unique feature: no valves.

Portnoff and the ensemble members — fellow Centennial students Caitlin Crumley, Shazabe Akhtar, Alexis Kalivretenos, Justin Lehr and John Peterson — play replica baroque trumpets handcrafted with brass tubing by veteran Centennial Lane Elementary School Band Director Frank Owens, who also serves as the high school ensemble's director.

"While most high school students get enjoyment out of playing video games, we find it fulfilling to play these replicas of 250-year-old instruments," Portnoff said.

The high school ensemble group has performed at two solo and ensemble festivals. At both performances, the judges gave the group the highest score possible, all 1's.

In August, Ellicott City's Linwood Center will begin its brand new state-of-the-art educational program in a 36,000-square-foot building at 3421 Martha Bush Drive.

The facility will allow the Linwood Center to support more children and adults with autism, including those on the more challenging end of the spectrum, by providing education, vocational training, residential support and employment opportunities.

The new Linwood school will cater to students in kindergarten through the 12th grade with less severe forms of autism. There are no other comprehensive private special education schools serving students with autism that is close to Howard County, and many local students are bused to schools outside the county.

Recently, parents of children with autism, educators and other community leaders attended a "walk-through-while-under construction" tour at Linwood Center's new building with school principal, Catherine Perini. The sneak peek included a brief program about Linwood's new programs, services and partnerships.

Grand opening festivities are slated for September. For information about Linwood Center, go to http://www.linwoodcenter.org or call 410-465-1352.

Here's a great way to introduce children to Shakespeare for free. Every summer, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in the Ruins offers free tickets to kids with the purchase of a paid adult ticket (up to two children per adult). Currently, the company is performing "The Taming of the Shrew" directed by Ian Gallanar at the outdoor venue, Ellicott City's Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park.

Park gates open 90 minutes prior to the performance, allowing audience members the opportunity to picnic under the stars (beer and wine allowed) and enjoy the free "Show Before The Show" (starts a half hour before curtain time) that includes musicians, costume booths, period games dances and demonstrations.

Deals for students under 25 ($15) and seniors ($25-$29) are also offered. For performance times and dates, go to the company's website at http://www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com. Hurry, this offer ends Aug. 4 when the company's season comes to an close.