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Our View: Thumbs up for pursuing dream, educational center, theater career | COMMENTARY

THUMBS UP: Lucinda Diehl dreamed years ago of a career in law, and it looks like the teenager is on her way to realizing that dream. We were happy to see the Winters Mill High School junior this past week emerge from more than 1,000 applicants to become a top 10 Maryland candidate in the United States Senate Youth Program. The program chooses two students from each state for a week of virtual educational experience and gives them scholarship money. Another aspiration of Diehl’s is to be a Maryland senator. One reason for the goal is so younger girls can see themselves in her. When she caught a glimpse of Kamala Harris, the first woman and woman of color to be elected vice president, making a speech after most states called the presidential election, she saw hope. Diehl told us the mission for equality is not over and she wants to contribute to its achievement. “I’m a Chinese American and I live in a rural community in a small town and almost every person I know is going to be Caucasian,” she told us. “When [your] teachers don’t look like you, it’s harder to see yourself in interaction and personality. Being part of something that a person can see themselves in me, I think that is truly an amazing thing that I can do for others.”

THUMBS UP: Kumon, a world-famous learning center for children, opened a branch last month in Eldersburg, we’re glad to see it hold a grand opening ceremony this past weekend. The new learning site, which focuses on reading and math, has its roots in Japan and dates to the 1950s, when a father wanted his son to progress in certain subjects by giving him short, incremental assignments. Reisterstown resident Fawad Shaikh, a pharmacist who also has a background in education, told us he eyed Carroll County as a good spot to start a Kumon center. Shaikh said Kumon’s goal is to make its students self-learners. “That’s the key word,” he told us. “We believe in making each and every student self-reliant so without the help of anybody they should be able to look into whatever they’re studying and lead by example.” Classes are spread over three-and-a-half hours, from 3-6:30 p.m., so that students don’t overlap in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shaikh is the main instructor at the Eldersburg Kumon, and told us he’s eager to see young people thrive in this learning method. “I believe there a few a few things in life you can never live without,” he told us, “and education is one of them.”

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THUMBS UP: If Annika Rudolph becomes a household name one day on the Broadway stage, we’ll remember how she got her drama career started. The Manchester Valley High School graduate recently landed her first professional debut as Young Adele in Bated Breath Theatre Company’s “Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec,” a coronavirus pandemic-friendly theatrical walking tour through the streets of Greenwich Village in New York City. The play runs through Jan. 10. Performing on stage has been a passion of Rudolph’s since she was a young girl, she told us. Rudolph’s parents moved to Hampstead when Rudolph was in fourth grade, and she enrolled in D&J’s Dynamite Dance Company to express her artistic talents. She learned how to sing in the Children’s Chorus of Carroll County and continued voice lessons at the Peabody Preparatory School in Baltimore. “She had a lot of star quality from Day One and has always been a confident kid,” D&J’s owner Jessica Etzel told us. “Obviously, she grew up to be a confident young woman, and I think she was just always ready to go, always ready to work hard.”

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