School Notes

Enthusiastic School Year Launch

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) opened all 66 schools countywide on schedule on Aug. 19, the first day of the 2013-14 school year. The first bus left the school bus depot at 5:10 a.m.

FCPS Chief Operating Officer Ann Bonitatibus was interviewed by ABC early that morning and welcomed families with cheerful enthusiasm to the new school year, reminding drivers that more than 40,000 children are on the road going to and from classes every school day in Frederick County. Her message: Red Means Stop — from both directions — when a school bus driver has activated the flashing red lights.

By 9 a.m., nearly 3,000 teachers had welcomed their classes to the new school year. One teacher, bedecked in a feather boa, literally rolled out a red carpet for her class, and featured an Oscar-like replica in the room. This was her message: Education is worth the red-carpet treatment.

Students and teachers focused on getting to know each other and their new classrooms. “That’s the most important part of today,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Steve Lockard, “building relationships that help make the school year a success.”

Former Centerville Elementary School principal, now principal at Tuscarora Elementary School, Steve Raff echoed principals across the county in attributing the orderly first day to teacher and staff preparation and parent cooperation. Many schools have held back-to-school nights prior to opening, helping to familiarize parents, staff and students with classroom locations and syllabi. Students were quickly engaged in a variety of lessons, many with hands-on assessments to measure their knowledge before progressing to the first units of study.

For Oakdale High School junior Heidi Closs, that means getting to work: “Most of my classes require a lot of reading, which I’m really excited about.  I like to read!”

Perhaps the most notable first day was at the Frederick Classical Charter School, opening for its very first time with 280 students in grades kindergarten through sixth.

Frederick Classical isn’t the only school touting a classical education: FCPS has the highest advanced Latin enrollment in Maryland, with Governor TJ High offering Latin III and Linganore also offering high-level Latin courses.

Behind the scenes FCPS staff worked to keep students energized and on the move. Food and Nutrition Services offered some of students’ favorite lunch choices: mini corn dogs or chicken nuggets with a roll, carrot sticks, tossed salad, mashed potatoes, chilled pears and fresh plums, apples and oranges. Schools offered 1,400 pounds of produce countywide, according to senior manager Judith Gordon. Gordon visited Lincoln Elementary, where students love the choices of fruits and vegetables offered and learned that the plums and apples came from a local orchard.

The Transportation Department planned a well-orchestrated return to the road of the county’s more than 400 school buses.  Director Fred Punturiero said that, as one might expect, there were some glitches this morning, and a few buses were late. Drivers, he said, are appreciating their new digital radios and are excited to be back behind the wheel.

Gum and Mints Allowed

This year at Urbana Middle School, students will be allowed to chew gum and eat mints during school hours. This privilege is being extended to our students as long as they are responsible enough to discard their trash in the receptacles and not on the floor and furniture.

 New Law to Benefit FCPS Students

Frederick County Public Schools is working to ensure that students and families are informed about the provisions of a new Maryland law aimed at improving college readiness and completion. Among other changes, the law requires public school systems to work jointly with public institutions of higher education including local community colleges on dual-enrollment programs that offer reduced tuition. FCPS is working with Frederick Community College to that end.

FCPS urges all students who are dually enrolled or want to pursue dual enrollment in the future to visit their high school’s counseling office for a College and Career Readiness Public Institution of Higher Education (PIHE) Dual Enrollment Application Form that reflects changes in the law. High school counselors have additional information.

Urbana Marching Band
Preview Event

A preview show of the Urbana Mighty Hawks Marching Band will be held on Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. The show is dubbed, “The Greatest Generation,” and includes dinner that’s followed by a preview show at 6 p.m. A second preview is being held at 6:45 p.m. The event is held at the UHS football stadium. Proceeds go entirely towards capital fundraising, which will cover new uniforms among other things. The community is invited to attend this event. Purchase tickets by Sept. 10 by contacting Karen Woehrle at or Michael Harrison at

Opportunities to Support
Area Schools

School budgets seem to be perpetually trimmed, so Parent Teacher Associations look for creative ways to join businesses to make it easier to help the schools. PTA members keep busy during the entire school year and beyond, holding events to entertain and teach students, show appreciation to school staff and help the schools provide the very best for the students.

Along with paying a small price for a PTA membership, buying spirit wear and joining booster and other support clubs, there are many other ways to support area schools and maintain them as some of the best in the nation, and any community member can participate:

Giant, Food Lion and Target will donate a portion of sales to the school designated by shoppers. Ask each store about the simple process of signing up to have your purchases count toward school improvements. Safeway and Giant Eagle programs are coming soon.

Box Tops for Education collects tags contributed by participants from the packaging on many cereals, soups and other products. The cardboard tags are turned into schools periodically and exchanged for donations from the food companies sponsoring the program. Details are available at A similar program, Labels for Education, will be coming soon.

Urbana and Centerville elementary schools and Urbana Middle School hold fall fundraiser programs each year, selling various items such as gift wrap, holiday gifts, stationery and food. Materials are sent home with students, but most allow purchases online, to benefit your school of choice. Some fundraisers will end by mid-September, so check the school’s website at Book Fairs are usually held twice a year, during fall and spring conference times.

Urbana High School athletes often sell coupon cards or books, with discounts available from many local retailers, for a small fee.


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