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Our View: Thumbs up for robotics expansion, players of the year, historic bell and volunteers

Thumbs up: We’re not sure we’ll ever see the day when high school robotics competitions inspire pep rallies and packed arenas on homecoming weekend, but we’re heartened to see Carroll County Public Schools putting even more emphasis on this STEM activity. The school system recently announced a plan to have a competitive robotics team in every school in the next two years. Half of Carroll County schools already have a team, Jason Anderson, chief academic, equity and accountability officer for CCPS, said during a presentation to the Board of Education on Nov. 13. To put teams in more schools, CCPS has found several community partners, including the student robotics groups that have already existed in the community. Anderson said that when he started with CCPS, he immediately heard about their amazing success. “I started thinking to myself, 'There’s something special going on in this county in regards to robotics.’" Curious about robotics? On Dec. 14, at Carroll Community College, the annual Roar of the Robots competition will take place. And, in a sign of things to come, the first time in its 11 years, all of the teams will be either community- or school-based teams from Carroll County.

Thumbs up: The Times recently unveiled its high school Player of the Year awards, and all-county teams, for each of the eight varsity fall sports. Four schools had two player of the year picks apiece — Century High School had Hayden Hebert (boys cross country) and Haley Greenwade (girls soccer), Liberty High School had Nate Kent (football) and Meghan Huey (field hockey), South Carroll High School had Grace Siehler (girls cross country) and Carter Chesney (boys soccer), and Westminster High School had Aaron Sorkin (golf) and Jilienne Widener (volleyball). Widener earned her fourth consecutive Player of the Year honors, just the second time in county history an athlete has received such recognition. Meanwhile, Kent repeated as Football Player of the Year. The all-county teams are chosen by the Times sports staff after consulting with Carroll coaches. All-County athletes are determined solely by on-field performances.

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Thumbs up: Plans are in the works to put a historic bell that once rang at Union Bridge School into a prominent location at Elmer Wolfe Elementary in Union Bridge. Mayor Perry Jones helped bring the bell back to his town and wants kids to see it and understand its significance. The Union Bridge School was where African American students went, pre-integration. It was torn down in the 1930s. Said Jones: “We’re working with the Board of Education so they can build a platform and put it in, and then we can put ... a plaque there saying it was the original bell off of the original Union Bridge School.” Sounds like a great idea and one the Carroll County Board of Education is also behind. “It’s just a thing that I wanted to help out with and preserve Carroll County public school history,” BOE member Marsha Herbert told us. "It needs to be done. I think it’s very important.”

Thumbs up: A dozen local residents traveled from Westminster Church of the Brethren to Jacksonville, Florida, in late September to rebuild three homes for families in need. The area is still hurting from Hurricane Irma, a category 4 storm that hit the area two years ago. Brethren Disaster Ministries partnered with the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church to identify those in need. Throughout the week, volunteers worked on the roof of one home, installed new windows, fitted new plumbing and helped with general cleanup, installing flooring and wall board, and painting. “I feel so blessed that I’ve never experienced anything even remotely resembling what the families in these communities have gone through,” volunteer Marilyn Ebaugh told us. “A week of volunteering is a small way to contribute to getting families back into their homes after a disaster.”

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