Thumbs up: The Liberty High School Lions’ Pride Marching Band made Maryland history. The band came into the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championship (ACC) with a lot of pressure as the reigning champions, but they perhaps exceeded already-high expectations, becoming the first Maryland band ever to be named Open Class champions twice in a row in the competition’s 40-year history. Bands are judged on a 100-point linear scale and Liberty secured their win last weekend with a score of 96.25. They also received the top award for High Brass. Even more impressive, the show was designed to put each section of the band on display with no place to hide mistakes — a risk that judges appreciated, Instrumental Music Director Brandi Jason told us. “If they don’t pull through, that can be really detrimental to a group. But I trust my kids and they rehearse well, and they’re really go-getters,” she said. Liberty’s band stood out in a major way, but some other Carroll schools turned in strong results as well. Century High School was awarded first place out of 12 bands in Class 2A, plus two specialty awards; South Carroll High School earned second place out of 10 bands in Class 1A, as well as the Philip Glass Creativity Award; Westminster High School received first place out of four bands in Open Class Small, as well as two specialty awards; and Francis Scott Key High School received fifth place out of 12 Bands in Class 2A. It’s a standing ovation from us at the Times.
Thumbs up: Local children who struggle with issues relating to ADHD, anxiety and anger have a Carroll County native to thank for a book that could be of some help. Caroline Bliss Larsen, who grew up in Westminster, co-authored “Marvin’s Monster Diary 2″ with Dr. Raun Melmed as part of a series that helps teach kids mindfulness and coping tools. The title is the fourth in the “Monster Diary” book series, and the first that Larsen has co-written. She grew up in Westminster and graduated from Westminster High School, and although she now spends most of her time in Utah, she still comes back to Maryland to visit family. Part of the goal with this book is to demystify problems these children can face — with with the child as an active participant in that process. It’s important for anyone to feel understood, and no doubt many kids who deal with these problems don’t know how best to face them. Things become even worse when these kids feel like no one gets the troubles they face. That’s why this book is so exciting. And crucially, the actual story of the book is designed to be interesting and fun for the 5-to-11 age group. “I think a lot of kids probably don’t want to read a self-help book. And they definitely don’t want their parents to read them a self-help book. So I think that’s why these books are really valuable,” Larsen told us. The book could make a real difference in young lives. We certainly hope it will.
Thumbs up: There will be a fundraiser Nov. 23 at the Upperco Volunteer Fire Company, and it’s a cause worthy of community support. When he was 16 months old Jacob Armacost of Upperco fell into his family’s pool and suffered severe brain damage. Since then, Armacost hasn’t been able to speak, walk or eat. To afford different treatments and therapies that aren’t covered by his insurance, his family holds an annual fundraiser. But every other year since 2005, the Armacost family holds a Pig Roast and Silent Auction; this year’s will be from 6 to 10 p.m. It’s obvious how much care Armacost’s family provides him, but they also could use a hand from the wider community. According to Donna Armacost, in previous years they’ve raised more than $15,000 and an average of about 300 people in attendance. They don’t have a monetary goal set for the fundraiser, they just hope people donate. We share that hope.
Thumbs up: Halloween doesn’t have to be all scary. It can also be wholesome, as it was at Gateway and Crossroads School in Westminster on Wednesday morning. The day before Halloween, the school hosted a Friends for Life trick-or-treat celebration for the second year. Experiential education students at Gateway invited students from Carroll Springs School and PRIDE (Program to Reduce Incidents of Disruption in Elementary schools) students from Friendship Valley Elementary for classroom trick-or-treating and themed activities. It seemed like a clear win-win for the hosting and visiting students alike, encouraging all to foster good communication skills and imparting the importance of engaging with peers — even when there might not appear to be much in common. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday.