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Our View: Thumbs up for Hampstead Elementary, county high school athletes making college choices, drama club going on with the show I COMMENTARY

THUMBS UP: It has been an eventful calendar year at Hampstead Elementary School, which finally got a chance to celebrate Thursday and Friday something that had not been done in Carroll County Public Schools for seven years. Hampstead received Blue Ribbon School status for Maryland back in December 2019, and two months ago added National Blue Ribbon School honors. The school was recognized for the above-and-beyond work put toward its students. It’s a practice Hampstead continued even through the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic didn’t take away from what we have accomplished,” Principal Arlene Moore told us. “We have beaten the odds.” Moore told us her school has always been a top three school in the county and now it is in the top 15% in the state. The Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools that “exhibit high performance and/or significant improvement in student achievement. Reducing the achievement gap for disadvantaged students is also a criterion,” according to the Maryland State Department of Education. Hampstead was given a Maryland flag that says “Blue Ribbon School” on it, and it also received a letter from President Donald Trump and a plaque, which will go in the award showcase that sits in the school’s lobby.

THUMBS UP: National Signing Day felt a little different around the county’s high school sports landscape this year, with Nov. 11 beginning the early period for athletes to sign letters of intent with Division I and Division II colleges. The COVID-19 pandemic made the annual event unique for many, but we’re glad to see a few Carroll programs recognize their athletes. Century and Westminster held signing day ceremonies Nov. 11, and Gerstell Academy did the same Nov. 12. Athletic directors from Carroll other’s public high schools told us they’ll be holding ceremonies in the spring to honor more athletes at once. Century honored four seniors ― girls lacrosse players Demma Hall (Maryland) and Madison Plitt (Jacksonville), girls soccer player Emily Streett (Mount St. Mary’s), and boys lacrosse player Camren Santos (Lynn University). Westminster’s ceremony featured three lacrosse players in Cam Doolan (Bucknell) and Ian Welch (Alderson-Broaddus) on the boys side, and Lauren Saltz (Penn State) on the girls side. Gerstell honored five girls lacrosse players in Brynn Knight (East Carolina), Abby Morrison (Mercer), Kennedy Major (Maryland), Emily Messinese (Navy), and Haley Polk (Michigan). Gerstell’s boys lacrosse team boasted D-II and D-III commitments with Kade Arnold (Florida Tech) and Drew Huber (Bridgewater College).

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THUMBS UP: Kudos to Century Higrh School’s drama club for turning a disappointing moment some eighth months ago into a bright spot amid the pandemic. Their spring production was wiped out in March when schools were forced to close because of the coronavirus. Instead, they came together last week to get ready for the Century High School Opening Knights’ Quarantine Cabaret. The virtual variety show is set to debut Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. as a cluster of spoken word poetry, songs, and skits aimed to capture what the students have gone through during the pandemic. Over the last few months, the students have been refining the creative projects they’ve dreamed up for the cabaret with the help of drama club director Lucas Hewitt and co-director, Caitlin Hewitt, a school counselor at Liberty High School who is also his wife. The production’s 26 acts range from original songs written and performed by students to time-lapsed clips of them painting or sculpting pieces of art that reflect their time in quarantine. Without costumes to purchase or a set to build, the drama club is hoping to recover the $3,000 to $4,000 it lost as a result of the spring production being canceled. Tickets for the Quarantine Cabaret’s livestreams — one on Nov. 14, another on Nov. 21 — are $15 for an individual viewing link and $40 for a group viewing link. Tickets are available for purchase at showtix4u.com. “While this has been an absolutely insane year — and these past six or seven months have been mayhem — things will be OK,” club president Mackenzie Houldson told us. “As long as we stick together and keep on movin' along, things will get better.”

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