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School days and activities return, bringing a sense of normalcy amid pandemic | NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

I am sure you have noticed signs of life returning to our neighborhoods — daffodils, crocuses, forsythia, all in beautiful bloom. Signs of life are coming back in other ways, too.

School buses are running and school parking lots are full. Elementary students, most middle and high school students and their teachers have been welcomed back to their school buildings, albeit not under the most normal circumstances. Many students are attending school two days a week and teachers are educating some in person and some virtually, all at the same time.

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High school sports have returned and parents have been lucky enough to be allowed to enter the stadiums and cheer on their sons and daughters. Seasons have been shortened, but athletes are excited to play.

My husband and I have enjoyed watching our daughter play soccer with Reservoir’s junior varsity team. The girls varsity soccer team has enjoyed a tremendous undefeated season. Spring sports are set to begin on April 17 with limited fans in attendance.

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Even throughout the uncertain times of the past year, students in our local schools rose to the academic challenges and succeeded. Students throughout Howard County were recognized as Carson Scholars, earning a minimum grade-point average of 3.75 and engaging in community service projects demonstrating their commitment to their neighborhoods.

First-time scholars for 2021 at our local schools included Charlotte Ward from Atholton Elementary School and Ayla McCoy from Hammond Elementary School. Rahul Goyal was a scholarship recipient from Lime Kiln Middle School. High school students Jasmine Henderson from Reservoir and Nicholas Taber from Atholton were also recognized.

According to the website, carsonscholars.org, “Recognized Carson Scholars have renewed their Carson Scholar status by maintaining high academic standards and continuing to show strong commitment to their communities.”

Students who achieved this status include Samantha Kidwell from Hammond Middle School and Cambel Howard from Reservoir High School. Xander Hartgrove and Georgia Martin are Carson Scholars from Atholton High School.

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Throughout the county, there were 30 Carson Scholars. Each was awarded with a $1,000 college scholarship award and will be honored during a regional celebration this fall.

As I have enjoyed walking through my neighborhood on these beautiful spring days, I noticed a sign posted at a small intersection advertising Blossoms of Hope. I was curious, so I did a little investigating.

Blossoms of Hope is an “outdoor family friendly scavenger hunt” running through May 5. According to the website, blossomsofhope.org, it is perfect for families, couples, friends, roommates and even “solo adventurists.”

There are 15 tree groves throughout Howard County, and participants are encouraged to solve clues and hunt for hidden treasures in each grove. Go to the website for more details about this fun way to get you moving outdoors this spring. My family is going to check it out.

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