THUMBS UP: Mechanicsville Elementary School Principal Glen Messier has spent the past week in Juncos, Puerto Rico, as one of some 45 educators and Lifetouch employees from across North America helping to rebuild Colegio Bautista, a school that was damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Lifetouch, a professional photography company for schools and families, organized the Jan. 21-28 trip to assist the school — which teaches 120 students from kindergarten to ninth grade — for its 16th Memory Mission. Messier was excited about going on the mission trip, but he knew going in it would not be easy after listening in on a final conference call. “A community member said when folks come down to help them rebuild, she realizes they are not forgotten any longer,” Messier told us. “To think there was part of our country that was devastated by this hurricane and we essentially turned our back on them. And they are still suffering. It’s heartbreaking.” Messier said he hopes this trip will be the beginning of a relationship between Mechanicsville Elementary and Colegio Bautista, so students can make friends, learn about different cultures, and videochat with one another.
THUMBS UP: “Heroin Still Kills,” an update to the original film created in partnership between the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Carroll County Health Department, premiered on Tuesday in front of some 600 in attendance at Carroll Community College. It was a project proposed in 2017 by the Health Department’s Linda Auerback, a substance use prevention supervisor and producer of the original “Heroin Kills,” a groundbreaking educational video that came about after a family struggled with their son’s overdose “It’s now 20 years since that video, and while times have changed, the message hasn’t,” State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo told the more than 50 cast, crew and officials gathered at the college prior to the airing of “Heroin Still Kills.” The new video features a female lead, Heather, a dancer whose journey of addiction begins when her mother offers her an opioid medication to help the pain from an injury. “The message has changed over the years, because now we have fentanyl and we have prescription drugs,” Auerback told us. “We have to educate the young people so they know what’s out there before they pick it up.”
THUMBS UP: Community members gathered for a ribbon-cutting for the new Operation Kidsafe Year-Round Child Safety Center, now open to the public at the Allstate office in Hampstead, last week in hopes that the new center will make it easier for parents to complete an Amber Alert safety form to start the process quickly in the event of an emergency where a child is missing. An Amber Alert safety form contains a picture of the child and their 10 fingerprints. The center, a setup at the Allstate office that also is portable and can be taken to community events, prints out one sheet with all of this information for parents to take home. And it’s not just for kids. Older and at risk-adults may also benefit from having their fingerprints and photo taken and on-hand. County Commissioner Richard Weaver R-District 2, volunteered to be first to test out the system. He hopes to see the technology put in use at events for kids as well as the library and the senior center. “It’s something the whole community can benefit from,” he said.
THUMBS UP: When the Francis Scott Key High School girls basketball team beat Manchester Valley, 43-40, on Thursday, the Eagles not only won the game but also clinched at least a share of the Carroll County Athletic League title. That’s not an insignificant achievement considering FSK last earned a girls basketball county crown 32 years ago. This marks only the third time in program history that FSK has won the county championship. “It was important for our personal self-esteem and gaining the respect from the county because people come in here and think they’re just going to walk on us because it’s been like that in past years,” senior Karla Stonesifer told us. “I think people are more hesitant of that now.” As well they should be. Francis Scott Key improved to 15-1 overall and a perfect 9-0 against Carroll County competition after going 6-16, 2-10 a year ago. The Eagles’ next goal will be to win a region title for the first time since 1997, a feat also achieved by that county champion 1987 team. “We’re going to keep it going,” Stonesifer said.