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Women's History Month talk crosses generations

Emma Halley and her grandmother Helen Wojtech stand by Emma's display board on the women's suffrage movement after the two gave a presentation for Women's History Month March 18 at Carroll Vista in Taneytown.
Emma Halley and her grandmother Helen Wojtech stand by Emma's display board on the women's suffrage movement after the two gave a presentation for Women's History Month March 18 at Carroll Vista in Taneytown. (Submitted photo,)

Before last year, Taneytown resident Helen Wojtech didn't know there was such a thing as Women's History Month, but on March 18, she celebrated it by giving a talk on women's history at Carroll Vista with granddaughter Emma Halley.

Wojtech, who had followed the civil rights movement in the '60s and '70s and took part in a march in Newark, N.J., with Martin Luther King Jr., said she wasn't involved or that familiar with the women's rights struggle in America.

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"I came upon it in later years, but really, Emma inspired me to get interested in it," Wojtech said.

Emma, 17 and a senior at Glenelg High School, said she first learned about the women's suffrage movement while doing research for a middle school National History Day project. Through that project, she learned about activist Alice Paul, from the early 1900s, and decided to keep an eye out for a future National History Day project where she could further explore this little-known woman who had such a big impact on the women's suffrage movement.

"Her ideas and the different events and rallies that she held really turned the tide in the women's suffrage movement," Emma said.

Then in her sophomore year of high school, she thought the contest's theme on "Turning Points" — which could be about a person, event or idea that changed the course of history — was the perfect opportunity to revisit Paul. Emma dug in further with her research, visiting Paul's childhood home of Paulsdale in New Jersey and the Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, D.C., which was the office of Paul's National Women's Party. At both places, she studied more historical records and primary sources about Paul and the women's suffrage movement.

Her resulting project, a display board titled "Votes for Women: Parades, Picketing and Prison," won first place at her school, then the county, then the state, and in June of 2013, she found herself winning "most outstanding senior entry with a tie to a historical site" at the national competition, in a division against all high school entries. Her prize was a $5,000 college scholarship from The History Channel.

While winning the scholarship was quite an achievement, her project opened even more opportunities for her to continue to study and promote women's equality. For the past two years she has served as a student representative on the board of trustees at Paulsdale, been a member of the Girls Advisory Council, attended the International Day of the Girl at the United Nations twice, and just attended the 59th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN earlier in March.

Wojtech said she couldn't be prouder of Emma, so when she learned about Women's History Month and that Carroll Vista was open to having members give talks on informational topics, she asked Emma if she would be her partner in a presentation.

"I was super excited," Emma said. "It's not often that you get to share a passion with someone, especially your grandma, so it was fun to present with her."

Wojtech said she focused on the earlier side of the women's suffrage movement, speaking about Anne Hutchinson, Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth, as well as covering how the women's suffrage movement was closely tied to the abolitionist movement. Emma gave her talk about the movement after the Civil War to the present.

Wojtech said she concluded the presentation with a poem to remind the audience that while women may have achieved many rights in America, the fight for women's rights is not over.

"The women's movement has become a global thing, it's no longer just the United States," she said. "It's all over the world, where we are looking to help women have their rights taken care of."

About 30 people made up the audience during their breakfast talk, Wojtech said, and afterward she received a lot of positive feedback from people who enjoyed seeing the multigenerational duo.

"It was really nice, and next year, she'll be going off to college, so who knows when we'll get to do another project like this together," Wojtech said.

Emma has been accepted to Clemson University, where she is planning to double-major in special education and women's leadership.

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Wojtech said she has already signed up to do another Women's History Month talk next year, though is thinking she may present it with daughter Beth Halley, while Emma is away.

Emma is still holding out hope that she could be a co-presenter, or at least an audience member next year.

"Maybe we'll get lucky and I'll be on spring break," she said.

Egg hunts

Easter is just over a week away, and egg hunts being planned include the following:

• Emmanuel Baust United Church of Christ will host an Easter egg hunt at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 28, for children in the fifth grade or younger. In addition to prize eggs, there will be a craft, games and refreshments, all for free.

The church is at 2950 Old Taneytown Road, Tyrone.

For more information, call 410-751-1237 or email office@ebucc.com.

• Keymar Evangelical Wesleyan Church will host an Easter Eggstravaganza from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1. The event is free and open to the public, and will feature an egg hunt, games, crafts, face painting, tattoos, snacks, door prizes and balloon artists making balloon animals.

The church is at 1011 FSK Highway, Keymar.

For more information, call the church office at 410-775-2400.

• The New Windsor Lions Club's annual Easter egg hunt is set for noon April 4 at New Windsor Middle School, 1000 Green Valley Road, New Windsor.

The free event is designed for children from birth to age 12, with children being divided by age divisions for their egg hunts.

For more information, call 410-635-2916.

• The Terra Rubra Lions are sponsoring an Easter egg hunt at 1 p.m. April 4 at the club's park at 6300 Middleburg Road, Middleburg.

The event is designed for children ages 12 and younger, with egg hunts planned for three different age groups. There will be a first-, second- and third-place prize in each age group for the most eggs found, and whoever finds the bonus egg in each group gets a special surprise.

For more information, call 410-775-0650.

Spring Dance

The Union Bridge fire company will have a Spring Dance from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, March 28, for adults 21 and older, featuring the band One Too Many Freddies.

Tickets are $15 per person, and singles and couples are welcome. The ticket price includes beer and snacks, though attendees are also welcome to bring their own beer. Proceeds will benefit the fire company.

The dance will take place at the fire hall, at 8 W. Locust St. in Union Bridge, which is a smoking- and tobacco-free venue.

For tickets or more information, contact Cheryl Keeney at CLkeeney@gmail.com or call 410-596-7652.

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Crab cake sale

The New Windsor fire company auxiliary is holding a crab cake sale April 14, but orders must be placed by Monday, March 30.

Orders can be made for raw or fried crab cakes, or a combination of both. Pickup for raw crab cakes will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 14 and for fried crab cakes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fire company, 101 High St., New Windsor. All crab cakes must be picked up by 2 p.m.

The price is $5.50 each and sales will benefit the fire company.

To place your order, call 410-775-7402 or 410-635-2756.

Carrie Ann Knauer covers New Windsor, Union Bridge, Taneytown and neighboring communities in the West Carroll area. Contact her at 410-596-9248 or carrie.knauer@gmail.com.

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