Fifth-grader Rashaad Calahan is letter-perfect in winning Elkridge Elementary School's spelling bee

Congratulations to Rashaad Calahan, a fifth-grader in Blake Beaudoin's class at Elkridge Elementary School, who won the school's spelling bee Jan. 24. Rashaad will represent Elkridge at the Howard County Library System Spelling Bee March 9 at 7 p.m. at Reservoir High School. In the event Rashaad is unable to attend, his alternate, Colton Jones, will represent Elkridge Elementarty. Congratulations to Rashaad and Colton on a great achievement.

In other Elkridge Elementary news, kudos and accolades to Ann Vannurden, Elkridge Elementary kindergarten teacher, who is one of the 16 Howard County Public School System teachers who have been nominated for the Washington Post's Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

According to the administration at Elkridge Elementary, Ann has been a positive influence and great inspiration to the many children she has taught over the years, as well as to all the staff members with whom she has worked. Being both a positive mentor to young minds and a role model for colleagues is a dynamic combination in any line of work, but to serve as such in the field of education is to truly help create future leaders. Congratulations to Ann on this honor.

Gina Cash, principal at Elkridge Landing Middle School, recently issued a statement via the Jan. 20 edition of the school's e-newsletter:

"I know many of you have been seeing alerts from some of our feeder schools regarding an unknown adult in the community approaching students. While we have not received any reports from our own middle school students, please take the time to go over your family's expected safety rules with your child. Walking to and from bus stops with friends and reporting anything suspicious to an adult immediately should be standard procedure for our students."

This is great advice and a simple reminder that you can never be too cautious. We certainly don't want our children living in constant fear; however, it is the perfect situation to remind them there is always safety in numbers and how important it is to truly look out for one another.

The American Red Cross poster reads: "It may be chilly outside, but when you donate blood, you help to warm someone's heart," a truly seasonal message that speaks on the impact of giving blood and saving lives.

Please help by planning your donation time at the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department Blood Drive Feb. 23 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the fire hall, 6275 Old Washington Road. Walk-ins are always welcome; appointments are appreciated. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Red Cross at 800-REDCROSS, or go to Make sure you specify that you are calling on behalf of the EVFD drive Feb. 23. Thank you in advance for you donation and the gift of life.

Don't forget bingo at the Firehouse every Friday night. There's a $1,000 cash jackpot. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. The early bird starts at 7:15 p.m. and regular bingo at 7:30 p.m. There are plenty of different bingo packages to choose from and all include admission, so come out and play to win. You must be at least 14 years old to play bingo and at least 18 years old for the pull cards. Players younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

The Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department Junior Firefighters will sponsor a Valentine-themed youth dance for ages 9-15 Feb. 15 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the fire hall. Tickets are available at the door for $10 per person with a maximum of 200 tickets sold. Food and beverages, which include pizza, corn dogs, pretzels, nachos, candy, water and sodas, will also be for sale at the dance.

The department does have a "no exceptions" policy on appropriate behavior and dress code for its youth dances, and also enforces a strict adult sign-in/sign-out procedure for attendance. For more information on the dance, call 410-761-6633 (and select option 5), or go to

OK, Elkridge … I know I mentioned this last week (and I will remind you again): It's that time of year again for the Elkridge Elementary School Hop/Shoot/Jump-A-Thon for cystic fibrosis. This fundraising event will be held Feb. 15 (for kindergarten-second grade) and Feb. 17 (for grades 3-5) and the 2012 HOP theme is "Who's Ready to Rock (and Roll)?"

The Elkridge Elementary Hop/Shoot/Jump-A-Thon was launched 10 years ago, and, under the leadership of Amy Bahrijczuk, and, on behalf of her youngest child, fifth-grader Joshua, this will be the 11th and final HOP at Elkridge Elementary. Over the past 10 years, Elkridge Elementary has made $90,900 in contributions to CF research, and their end goal is set for $100,000 before the end of this year's worthwhile effort.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been ranked as one of the nation's top "Charities You Can Trust" by Smart Money. Over ninety cents of every dollar raised goes directly to medical research.

You can find out about CF research and obtain additional information at, and, if you'd like to make a donation to Elkridge Elementary's HOP/SHOOT/JUMP-A-THON, it's easy and secure at Donations in the form of checks can be made payable to CF Foundation and dropped off or mailed to Elkridge Elementary at 7075 Montgomery Road.

For additional information on the HOP, please contact Amy at 410-796-7963. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Don't miss the James Munsey Comedy Hypnosis Show, which will be presented at Howard High School Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium. Munsey's hilarious, family-friendly program uses members in the audience to entertain the crowd, transforming mere would-be attendees into instant comedians and making them the stars of the show.

Advanced tickets are on sale at Howard during lunch shifts Feb. 8-10 and at the boys and girls basketball games Feb. 7 and 9, respectively. If those options aren't convenient, tickets will be available at the door the night of the event and they are $10 each. Come see some of Howard's favorite teachers hypnotized in front of your very eyes. Tyler Petrini, Daneace Jeffrey and Natasha LaVoie have bravely stepped up to the challenge, and student volunteers will be chosen at random the night of the event and hypnotized, as well! 
Don't miss the fun!

Please continue to keep all of our brave women and men who are far from home (and their loved ones) in your thoughts and prayers. Commit those random acts of kindness and savor each moment of every day. Please keep in touch and let me know what you'd like to share in this space. Thanks and have a stellar week!

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