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Thumbs up: Worthy Washington of Sykesville was promoted to exalted leader at the Westminster lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks last week, breaking new ground for the club as the first black leader of the local lodge. Washington, a deputy with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, was inducted by Don Warner, a charter member of the Elks Club, who was there for the group's creation in 1963. When the lodge was established, national Elk policy forbade people of color from joining the group, despite the efforts of Warner and other members. It wasn't until a national decree in the 1970s that the club became integrated. Washington first joined the Elks lodge seven years ago and said he instantly fit in with the group. As exalted leader, Washington will oversee the house committee as well as the everyday function of the lodge. He will also become a member of the Elks lodge board of directors and help manage the finances of the organization.

Thumbs up: The Carroll County Arts Council's biggest fundraiser, the PEEPshow, featuring the sugar-coated marshmallow Easter candies, has gotten an air of legitimacy in its eighth year, with the confection's parent company Just Born partnering with the arts council to sell official Peeps merchandise. The PEEPshow continues to grow, with more than 170 pieces of art on display this year, and approximately 25,000 people who came to see the artwork throughout the week last year. In 2014, they raised around $40,000 from voting chips, concessions and merchandise sales, up from $35,000 the year before.

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Thumbs up: Eight educators were chosen from nearly 400 nominees to receive an Outstanding Teacher Award from the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. The following teachers received Outstanding Teacher Awards: Christine Baummer, social studies teacher, North Carroll Middle School; Roberta Gore, English and drama teacher, North Carroll High School; Rachel McCusker, music teacher, Piney Ridge Elementary School; Kenneth Mihalyov, science teacher, West Middle School; Rachel Morgan, music teacher, North Carroll Middle School; Jan Nies, media specialist, Parr's Ridge Elementary School; Melanie Roelke, special education teacher, West Middle School; Gayle Sands, ELA specialist, Crossroads Middle School. One of the eight will be chosen as the 2015 Carroll County Teacher of the Year during the Board of Education's employee recognition ceremony on April 29. That candidate will be Carroll County's representative for the Maryland Teacher of the Year program.

Thumbs up: The Maryland Family Network made books available for free for children to low-income parents at the Carroll County Family Support Center is Westminster. Parents come to the Family Support Center, which is part of Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., to attend classes on parenting, finances and job skills while their children are engaged in an active child care environment. A large part of that program is about emphasizing the importance of books and language for early childhood development. Many families simply do not have the resources to keep a library at home for their young children, having to choose between new books or food, rent and gas to drive to work.

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