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Our View: Thumbs down to thinking pandemic is over; thumbs up to Eagle Scout, award-winning counselors | COMMENTARY

THUMBS DOWN: Those who think the COVID-19 pandemic is over and they can return to “normal” behavior that puts themselves and others in the community at risk might want to check with the 30 or so people testing positive every day in Carroll and the two dozen or so in beds at Carroll Hospital trying to survive. Our behavior is quite likely fueling the rise in new cases. Yes, vaccination efforts are picking up speed. More than 50,000 Carroll County residents have received at least their first dose of vaccine and nearly 30,000 are fully vaccinated. And eligibility has been opened up throughout the state and more vaccination sites have also opened. Maybe by the fall we’ll be able to take off the masks, sit a little closer and feel comfortable going to concerts and sporting events with large groups. But thinking it’s OK to do that now clearly contributed to Carroll’s weekly case numbers doubling over the past month. Those numbers were reduced by about 80% in the seven weeks after the post-holiday surge, but over the past four weeks we’ve returned to numbers that would’ve mortified us last summer: Two hundred cases a week, a positivity rate of 6%. Additionally, 27 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on March 27. Three weeks earlier that number had been three. We urge everyone to remember this isn’t over, to continue to take this seriously and to endure the minor inconveniences for a little while longer, to give everyone the chance to get vaccinated and make it safe for a true and full return to normalcy.

THUMBS UP: A high school student’s passion and longtime goal wound up intersecting with an elementary school’s need for some additions to its playground. Eighteen-year-old Manchester Valley senior Logan Cavanagh was recently awarded his Eagle Scout award, fulfilling a longtime goal. It was a bit of a milestone for Troop 380, too, as he was their 50th Eagle Scout. For his project, he built three new benches for Spring Garden Elementary School and repainted the blacktop of the school’s new playground with a colorful map of the United States, a four-square court, and hopscotch markings. He enlisted two of his friends and some family members to help with the paining and he did his research on the benches, which are made from recycled materials, and lined up sponsors. “The painting took a day, about nine hours. The benches took about five hours, but the planning took 50-some hours. There is a 24-page document you have to submit to get the project approved,” he told us. Cavanagh’s scoutmaster, Robert Kirby has watched 18 teens become Eagle Scouts during his tenure. He told us it takes a special person, like Cavanagh. “Typically,” he said, “out of 100 scouts, only two will reach the rank of Eagle Scout.”

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THUMBS UP: Carroll County Public Schools employees counselors Sarah Gallagher, from Shiloh Middle School, and Sherry Scott, from Northwest Middle School, were named semifinalists for the Maryland School Counselor of the Year Award. School counselors from across the state were nominated based on their innovations and comprehensive school counseling programs. Gallagher has worked for the school system and at Shiloh Middle for the past seven years. She was a teacher before at Sykesville Middle School but made the switch to focus on her favorite part of the job, talking to kids. “I didn’t mind giving up lesson plans and grading,” she told us. Scott was not always a school counselor either. Before spending four years at Northwest Middle, she spent three at Carroll County’s division of rehabilitation services. She said she always enjoyed working with students and wanted to make the greatest impact on their lives. She said working as a counselor in the school system “really gives you the opportunity to capture what’s going in the community and fill in those gaps that the kids may not be getting otherwise.” Both counselors said despite the challenges, the students keep them coming back. Kudos to both.

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