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Our View: Thumbs up to student champ on ‘Today,’ high-ranked college, coat drive; thumbs down to vandals | COMMENTARY

THUMBS UP: Winters Mill senior Diana Flores has received some nice recognition as the Children’s Health Matters! Campaign 2020 Student Champion of the Year for her commitment to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma of children’s mental health. She’s a member of the executive board for Falcons of Strength, the Winters Mill chapter of Sources of Strength, an international youth suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse prevention program that empowers peer leaders. Flores, and several of her fellow Falcons, received her proverbial 15 minutes of national fame when the NBC morning show “Today” did a segment from the Westminster school last Friday. She was interviewed by host Morgan Radford and told us that while she was nervous ahead of time, being in front of the camera felt natural when the lights went on. it gave her the chance to shine a spotlight on a critically important topic. “It’s OK to talk about it, and not just that. You not only help yourself … but you inspire other people,” she said. “You share your own story, you connect with other people and they get motivated. They get inspired.”

THUMBS UP: Carroll Community College recently earned national recognition, ranking 21st out of 698 schools that were evaluated in a survey conducted by financial website WalletHub for its “2020′s Best & Worst Community Colleges.” Carroll Community ranked above all other Maryland community colleges. The colleges that participated were analyzed using several factors across three dimensions, focusing on cost and financing, education outcomes, and career outcomes. The data used for the analysis was collected from sources including the National Center of Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education, according to a Carroll Community news release. The study noted that “students who earn their general-education credits at a community college before transferring to an in-state public four-year university can potentially save a lot of money.” In addition to affordability, the study analyzed outcomes for students, in terms of both education and career. Carroll scored at a high level along dimensions such as first-year retention rate, graduation rate, and student-faculty ratio, according to its news release.

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THUMBS UP: The Shepherd’s Staff is beginning its annual Call for Coats drive, the 29th year the Christian outreach nonprofit has collected garments to help keep those in need warm during the winter. As a concession to the coronavirus pandemic, however, The Shepherd’s Staff is accepting only new coats this year. Donations are being collected for the entire month of October and the organization has set as its goal 250 new coats. Marketing manager Heather Morris told us that more than 3,000 individuals received coats during last year’s drive. “We are happy we can continue to provide the same level of service that we always have, in a safe way for everyone involved, even if it looks a little different. As always, we are thankful for the support and understanding of the community as we continue to adjust our programs as necessary," Executive Director Brenda Meadows was quoted as saying in a news release. To donate, call The Shepherd’s Staff office at 410-857-5944 to set up a time to drop off any merchandise that was purchased locally. There is also an option to purchase items through their Amazon wishlist, which would deliver the coats to a secure location for the organization to receive directly.

THUMBS DOWN: We’re not sure why the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on Malcolm Drive in Westminster has been repeatedly targeted by spray-painting vandals to convey political messages, but it’s neither amusing nor an acceptable way to express dissent. Graffiti was found Tuesday on the side of the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on Malcolm Drive in Westminster. The message read in part, “TAKE BACK OUR LIBERTY. TAKE OFF YOUR MASK,” along with a smiley and a heart. The message referenced the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has issued guidelines — including urging the use of facial coverings — designed to mitigate spread of the coronavirus. A message was found painted on the same wall on April 21 that read, “TRADE RIGHTS FOR ‘SAFETY’ YOU WILL GET NEITHER. THINK FOR YOUR SELF,” followed by a peace symbol and a heart. Most infamously, in July 2014, the same wall was spray-painted with the message, “NO ILLEAGLES HERE NO UNDOCUMENTED DEMOCRATS” after it was learned that the federal government was considering the site as a temporary shelter for undocumented immigrant children.

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