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Nearly 200 athletes competed in the Carroll County Special Olympics at Winters Mill High School Wednesday, a showcase for athletic abilities for students with special needs. The event, which included athletes from schools and organizations throughout the county, was an opportunity for the students to show off to their friends and family. Parents and classmates packed the stands to cheer on their children and friends with the enthusiasm of a major sporting event.

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Liberty High School social studies instructor Patricia DiLeonardi was named the 2012 Carroll County Teacher of the Year during the Board of Education's employee recognition ceremony Thursday. DiLeonardi has taught advanced placement history, U.S. history, government and psychology, among other courses. She is a national board certified teacher and serves as the Student Government Association adviser at Liberty. She started at Liberty as a substitute in 2001 and became a full-time teacher in 2005. She is a Towson University graduate. DiLeonardi will now go on to represent the county in the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program.

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Five Environmental Awareness Awards from the county's Environmental Advisory Council were announced earlier this week to acknowledge exemplary accomplishments in the protection, conservation and improvement of our environmental resources.

The awards are presented every other year for endeavors and projects that result in positive benefit to the environment and have the potential for long-term community environmental benefit in each of six categories: individual, institutional, agriculture, business, K-12 student and college student.

Nominations were received and awarded for three categories this year. Westminster resident Paul Kazyak won the individual award for his work with Venturing Crew 202, Northrop Grumman's Sykesville campus won the business award for its GreeNG initiative, and Gateway School for its Go Green Initiative and green teams from Linton Springs Elementary and Sykesville Middle schools had a three-way tie for the Institution award.

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The 2012 Envirothon provided participating students an opportunity to put their studies to work. For the 11th straight year, Venturing Crew 202, a coed offshoot of the Boy Scouts of America, won the competition and will take part in the state Envirothon in June. Teams from Century and Francis Scott Key high schools placed second and third, respectively. Teams gathered at Hashawha Environmental Center to take tests in forestry, wildlife, aquatics, soils and a fifth issue that changes every year. This year's special topic was low impact development and nonpoint source pollution. The teams took a written test on the topic, but also had to give a presentation to a panel of judges using a plan for a building that they were given ahead of time but then had to rework to make it more environmentally friendly.

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