Thumbs up: All in all this past week was a strong one for Carroll County Public Schools. One school in particular stood out, though. Now that it’s been named a Blue Ribbon School — one of six in Maryland this year, and the first in Carroll County since 2013 — Hampstead Elementary School has some solid ground to stand on when students sing “Our school is the best” in the school song. 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. The school’s principal, Arlene Moore, told us she was floating on a cloud after hearing the news Tuesday. “We’re one of the smallest schools in Carroll County right now, with 400 students, but our teachers work very hard,” she told us. We’re inclined to take her at her word. This is the kind of recognition that helps prove to others throughout the state — and maybe even nation — that Carroll County takes its schools seriously. The Blue Ribbons schools will be honored at a dinner in Annapolis in March and will compete for the National Blue Ribbon awards to be announced next fall, so this exciting ride isn’t quite over for the Panther Cubs.
Thumbs up: This next bit of good news relating to Carroll County Public Schools centered on some strong individual achievements. The Maryland State Fair & Agricultural Society Inc. awards several different scholarships to students throughout the state — about $33,000 this year. Carroll students really cleaned up. Four college students from our county earned $8,000 total in scholarship awards from the Maryland State Fair for their achievements in agriculture. Three of the four students who received the $2,000 F. Grove Miller Scholarship are from Carroll, while the sole winner of the $2,000 Marlin K. Hoff Scholarship was Union Bridge resident and Tarleton State University junior Autumn Lippy. The Carroll natives who won the F. Grove Miller Scholarship were: Mark Andrew Chaney, of Union Bridge and Northern Oklahoma College; Matthew Thomas Chaney, of Union Bridge and South Dakota State University; Marissa Roberts, of Taneytown and Mount St. Mary’s University. Lippy, a 2016 graduate of Francis Scott Key High School, was selected for the Marlin K. Hoff Scholarship based on factors including her involvement with the dairy industry, academic performance and leadership qualities. “They’re very well educated in the field of agriculture," Mary Amoss, chairman of the scholarship committee, told us. “Each person has a quality that stands out.” To all four winners, we offer our congratulations and our appreciation for helping to continue a long tradition of agricultural education in Carroll County.
Thumbs up: Carroll County is getting closer to implementing something new, and it’s worth a serious look. The Carroll County Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan, which has been in the works for about four years, aims to unite bike-pedestrian projects across the county. The county planning and zoning commission voted 5-0 recently to approve a resolution for the plan, though it still needs to be adopted by the Board of Commissioners. There’s a lot in the plan, which is about 300 pages long, but readers should know that none of it will be required by law even if it’s implemented. What, if anything, actually comes to fruition depends on funding, officials’ priorities and other individual factors, but having a detailed plan in place will make it easier for the county to seek grant opportunities moving forward, county planner Clare Stewart told us. The goals of the plan are laudable, too: connecting existing bike-pedestrian paths, making them safer, and building new paths to give citizens greater access to higher-trafficked areas. The stakes of this could be high; some of these possible changes could help prevent future pedestrian deaths. We can’t say we support every single possible project raised by the plan, but we sure support the broad thrust behind the plan.
Thumbs up: We’re joining the Carroll County Community Services Council in shouting out Tom Welliver, the 18th recipient of their Sylvia Canon Humanitarian Award. The award recognizes someone dedicated to going “above and beyond” in the field of human services, and honors the memory of the founder of Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Sylvia Canon. When Access Carroll, a low-cost clinic for the uninsured and under-insured was founded in Westminster in 2004, Welliver realized there was a way he could help heal people, and volunteered his time and skills. Welliver has also lent his financial know-how over the past 28 years to other groups, having served on the boards of McDaniel College, The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster and more. Take it from Missie Wilcox, who nominated Welliver for the award and has worked with him on numerous boards: “I really don’t think I know anyone who could be more deserving than him.”