Student success starts with parental involvement

If you have a child in school, a big part of your life must revolve around the school. Your involvement will help your child to thrive and achieve more than without that support. Be sure to attend Back-to-School night if at all possible and get involved with PTA at each school level..

Back-to-School night for River Hill High School is Sept. 19. Parents of ninth-graders should report to the auditorium at 6:30 p.m. All parents should be in the child's 1st period class at 7 p.m.

The River Hill High School class of 2015 will be looking for hungry parents eager to exchange donations for baked goods. Arrive a little early so you can stop by their table in the front lobby to pick up a snack for yourself or a take-home goodie.

Congratulations to rising River Hill senior Taariq Mohammed on receiving a perfect score on his ACT exam. Over the years, several River Hill students have received a perfect score on the SAT, but Taariq is the first to earn a perfect score on the ACT.

Erena (Ray) Adyson Pickens maintained a family tradition by arriving on a holiday. The little firecracker weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces on July 4. Ray was nearly 20 inches. Mom April Pickens was born on April Fools' Day and grandmother Ellen Babcock was born on Veterans' Day. Ray is the first grandchild for Ellen and the late Boe Pickens. She is the second granddaughter for Clif Babcock. Great-grandmother Ethel Pickens of Haviland Mill Road celebrates with all of them and is pleased to have another great-granddaughter. Blessings on the little one and her family.

Randy and Margaret Walton of Wayside Drive were kept busy with a visit from their three grandchildren for two weeks this summer. Anne Margaret, Jack and Randy, the children of the Waltons' daughter Julie (now Julie Williams), attended Rolling Hills Baptist vacation Bible school the first week. Randy learned to sign the word God and is showing everyone. The second week the trio attended Abiding Savior Lutheran vacation Bible school. This trip to Maryland was unplanned, and the Waltons would like to thank both churches for making room for the children.

Anne Margaret celebrated her ninth birthday while she was here. She had a great time hanging out with Haydn and Sean Kozak. Thanks are sent to Pat and Bill Kidwell for making their pool available.

Julie was in town one weekend during her kids' stay. Everyone in the family had a great time at Clarks' Farm and the Baltimore Aquarium. The boys enjoyed visiting the Robinson Nature Center, which is free on Wednesdays. The birthday girl enjoyed a sleepover at her friend Kylie Tracy's home. Julie and Kylie's mom Lori were cheerleaders together at Atholton. The Tracy and Williams kids along with their moms and Nana Walton also took in the Howard County Fair. You can see they had two weeks full of activity.

Margaret Walton attended the National Down Syndrome Congress in Washington, D.C. It is called a "Causecation" — the act of traveling with friends or family to actively participate in advancement efforts, learn new information and display your commitment to furthering a cause while enjoying the adventures of a traditional vacation. That's a long explanation of a new word to me. Margaret says it was a great four-day meeting and not far away. One of her big thrills was getting to hear author Dr. Libby Kum, professor of speech-language pathology at Loyola University. Her topic was "How can we help children with DS learn to speak understandably."

Another big thrill was meeting Miss Katie Henderson, an emerging artist living with Down syndrome. The Florida miss is self-taught. Check her out at

You could say that Dottie and Mauri Bascom, Jodie Onafrey and I had a Causecation in Cincinnati. We were volunteers manning a booth for Christian Record/Camps for Blind Children at the ASIMinistries Convention. Neighbors Dottie and Mauri have developed Kids Helping Blind Kids as a community service program for schools to make it possible for more blind children to do things sighted kids do without thinking. It takes a lot of staff to provide camps for blind children, but blind kids get a boost from their amazing accomplishments at camp. The kids get to ride horses, ski on snow or water and do all kinds of things one might think were totally impossible. Helping the blind children is inspirational.

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