Talbot County Public Schools Releases Data from Maryland State Assessments (PARCC)

Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools, shared results of the 2017 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments at the September Board of Education meeting.  Data from the spring administration shows that the percentage of TCPS students scoring a level 3 or greater on PARCC increased in 5 out of 14 grade cohorts for English Language Arts (ELA) and math in comparison to the previous year, and the percentage of students scoring a level 4 or greater increased in 7 out of 14 grade cohorts during the same administrations.  In addition, TCPS students outperformed the State in the percentage of students scoring a level 3 or greater on PARCC in 10 out of 14 grade cohorts in ELA and math and outperformed the State in the percentage of students scoring a level 4 or greater in 7 out of 14 grade cohorts.

PARCC is administered for English/Language Arts and Mathematics to all Maryland Public School students in grade 3 through 8 and at the high school level for Algebra I and English 10. This was the first year students had to earn a passing score on the Algebra I and English 10 to meet graduation requirements.

The PARCC exams are considerably more rigorous than the Maryland School Assessment tests they replaced in 2015. The assessments are designed to measure students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. While the scores on the PARCC Assessment are not being used for educator, school, or system-level accountability purposes at this time they do provide students, parents, and teachers a better idea of where students stand in regard to college and career readiness. The Individual Score Report students receive provides useful information to parents on how their child performed on the assessment as a whole, as well as, how they performed on specific skills.

“The PARCC results provide us with valuable information and support the implementation of our new Mathematics Curriculum for grades Pre-K through 8 and English Language Arts Curriculum in grades Pre-K through 5,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  “These new resources will greatly benefit our students as they are more aligned with the rigor of the Maryland State Standards assessed on PARCC.” The new math curriculum builds on a progression of skills to foster students’ conceptual knowledge of mathematics so they are better able to apply learning to complex problems and real world applications. Instructional strategies introduce mathematical concepts concretely and through visual modeling with opportunities for student reflection to foster persistence in solving complex problems. The new Wonders reading series, funded through non-recurring costs by the Talbot County Council, includes online resources, leveled readers, intervention materials, and integrated assessments, all of which allow teachers to tailor instruction to student learning needs.

Additional information regarding state, county and local school PARCC data are available on the Maryland State Department of Education’s website, www.mdreportcard.org.

To Counter Opioid Epidemic Leads State Panel to Revisit “Recovery Schools

A fire led to the eventual end of Phoenix — a groundbreaking Maryland public school program for children with addiction that closed in 2012 — but the state could see institutions like it rise again from the ashes.

Recent spikes in the Maryland heroin and opioid epidemic have triggered calls for substantial changes in education systems statewide, and a state work group is weighing the return of recovery schools after a Sept. 7 meeting.

For Kevin Burnes, 47, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, attending a recovery school separate from his hometown high school was life-changing.

Burnes said in a public letter that he began to experiment with drugs and alcohol at age 10, and his addiction to alcohol quickly escalated to PCP. He found himself homeless and was admitted into a psychiatric institute, he wrote.

However, after finding Phoenix, a recovery program for secondary school students with addiction, and attending for two years, his whole life turned around.

“What I can tell you is that this program undeniably saved my life,” said Burnes, now a full-time musician living in Frederick, Maryland. “The largest part of Phoenix’s success was due to the fact that everyone was involved. It was a community effort. It’s a community issue.”

State legislation that passed this year — known as the Start Talking Maryland Act — came into effect in July and directed schools in Maryland to take precautionary measures against opioid exposure and abuse. It also established the work group.

The panel is charged with evaluating and developing behavioral and substance abuse disorder programs and reporting their findings to the General Assembly, according to a state fiscal analysis.

The legislation additionally requires:

–To store naloxone in schools and train school personnel in the drug’s administration
–Public schools to expand existing programs to include drug addiction and prevention education
–Local boards of education or health departments to hire a county or regional community action official to develop these programs
–The governor to include $3 million in the fiscal 2019 budget for the Maryland State Department of Education for these policies
–Schools of higher education that receive state funding to establish these similar policies and instruction in substance use disorders in certain institutions

The Phoenix program and similar secondary schools that followed it were created specifically for students in recovery from substance use disorder or dependency, according to the Association of Recovery Schools.

“What we’ve known anecdotally for a while, we are starting to finally see with data. These high schools have positive effects on preventing and reducing adolescent alcohol and drug use as well as supporting the abstinence of kids post-treatment and seeing a positive impact on academics,” Dr. Andrew Finch, Vanderbilt University researcher and co-founder of the Association of Recovery Schools told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.

The first of its kind in the United States, the original Phoenix I school opened in 1979 as an alternative program in Montgomery County, Maryland, that provided both an education and a positive peer culture centered on recovery. Phoenix II followed, also in Montgomery County.

Since then, about 40 schools have opened nationwide, according to Finch, but none remain in the state of Maryland.

“It was amazing the support that the students gave to each other. We would have weekly community meetings where they would praise each other for their commitment, but if they weren’t working toward sobriety these kids were the first ones to rat on each other,” Izzy Kovach, a former Phoenix teacher told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “It was a real sense of family…”

Critical to the Phoenix schools were outdoor challenges, said Mike Bucci, a former Phoenix teacher for 20 years, in a report. Along with regular days of classes and support groups, students would go from climbing 930-foot sandstone cliffs at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, to biking the 184-mile length of the C&O Canal to sailing the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

“These trips helped form lifelong bonds along with an ‘I can’ attitude,” Bucci wrote.

The Phoenix schools at their largest enrolled about 50 students each at a time, according to a state report.

After years of successful work, the Phoenix schools began to lose their spark. Tragedy struck in 2001 when the Phoenix II school burned down.

However, instead of remaining a standalone recovery school, Phoenix II continued on as an in-school program, and eventually Phoenix I followed, according to Kovach.

“The program lost its validity with this model (with students back in traditional high schools). The students knew it, the parents knew it, and eventually key staff left because they also saw it was ineffective,” Kovach said.

Eventually, enrollment dwindled down to only three students and the Phoenix program closed its doors in 2012, according to a report compiled by a community advocacy group Phoenix Rising: Maryland Recovery School Advocates.

Five years later, with the rise in drug use throughout the state, talk of bringing back recovery school programs have reemerged.

“Whenever you have a program where there aren’t many of them, like recovery schools, people just don’t don’t think of them as an option. But, it is slowly changing and it’s even starting to be picked up by the media,” Finch said.

The epidemic is gathering attention and resources in Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency from March 1 to April 30 and committed an additional $50 million over five years to help with prevention.

From 2014 to 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths reported in Maryland between Jan. 1 and March 31 more than doubled — taking the death toll up to 473, according to state health department data. Since then, the work group has begun to look at these numbers and is beginning to discuss various models for these new recovery programs.

Lisa Lowe, director of the Heroin Action Coalition advocacy group, said she fears that the work group will not be able to understand how to move in the right direction without having students, parents or teachers with lived experience contributing.

“Instead of just guessing what’s going to work, why not ask the people who are living it?” Lowe said.

The work group has considered either creating a regional recovery school or bringing the recovery programs into already existing schools — both models in which Burnes, Lowe and many others are not in favor.

Lowe said students in recovery need to get away from “people, places and things,” a common phrase that is used in 12-step programs. With a regional school or an in-school program, Lowe said, it is more difficult to maintain after-school programming and local peer support groups, and it will bring recovering students back to where their problems started.

The start-up costs for Year 1 for one recovery school are estimated to range from approximately $2,258,891 to $2,473,891 depending on whether the school is operated only for Montgomery County students or as a regional recovery school, and again should enroll about 50 students age 14 through 21 years (or Grades 8 through 12), according to a state report.

“The overdoses are not occurring as much at the high school level, but that’s where they start. They start in high school and they start in middle school. We have to get the program in place so that we don’t have the deaths later on,” said Kovach, the former Phoenix teacher.

Rachelle Gardner, the co-founder of Hope Academy, a recovery charter high school in Indiana, said that these recovery schools are needed all over the country to help battle this substance abuse crisis.

“Addiction is addiction, when you walk into a 12-step meeting you’re in a room of addicts. You have to treat the addict in itself and we have to meet everybody where they’re at regardless of their drug of choice,” Gardner said.

The workgroup is continuing to develop their ideas for recovery schools and are expected to present their findings to the State Board of Education on Oct. 24.

By Georgia Slater

Chesapeake College Announces Timeline for New Presidential Search

Chesapeake College’s Board of Trustees has announced the formation of a search committee to select the college’s sixth president and a process to involve members of the campus and Mid-Shore communities in identifying the qualifications, characteristics and values sought for the school’s new leader.

The 14-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) will be chaired by L. Nash McMahan, Vice Chair of Chesapeake’s Board of Trustees and President of Tri-Gas and Oil Co., and include four additional trustees from the Mid-Shore: Christopher Garvey, President & CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Chesapeake Shores Chapter; Robert Grace, President & COO of Dixon Valve & Coupling Company; Mike Mulligan, retired Colonel U.S. Marine Corps and Senior Account Manager for Battelle; and Brenda Shorter, retired Kent County Schools educator.

“Nash McMahan’s experience as a CEO, civic leader and collaborator will be catalytic in helping the search committee identify qualifications and characteristics for the president that are based on widespread community input,” Chesapeake College Board of Trustees Chair Blenda Armistead said. “In particular, we felt it was important to get broad participation from the business community since the college plays such a critical role in educating and training our region’s current and future workforce.”

Additional members of the search committee include representatives from the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, the college’s Foundation Board and Business Council; and Chesapeake’s administration, faculty and staff.

Residents and employers in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties are invited to participate in the search process by completing a brief online survey on the campus website through Sept. 20 at noon. Results will be used to help develop a job description to recruit the new president.

“We have already completed individual interviews and focus groups on campus and in the community with elected officials and business leaders,” McMahan said. “The online survey gives others throughout the region the opportunity to share their ideas and priorities and the characteristics they would like to see in the new president.”

Based on this input, recruitment advertisements will be posted in October with applications accepted through the end of the year, according to McMahan.

The search committee will evaluate applicants in January and February and a list of three to four candidates will be submitted to the Board of Trustees in March. Campus and community engagement will be sought during the final interview process.

“We hope to announce our choice in the spring with the new president on campus by the start of the fiscal year on July 1,” Armistead said.

Chesapeake College Interim President Dr. Stuart Bounds is assisting the Board of Trustees in the search.

“Chesapeake College has had a deep commitment to the values and aspirations of the Mid-Shore community throughout our 50 year history,” he said. “The Board and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee will be seeking a candidate for the sixth president of the college who will build on that commitment and expand educational opportunity for all the citizens of our five-county community.”

To participate in the survey please go here

Washington College Among Top Liberal Arts Colleges in America!

 

Statue of George Washington on Washington College campus in front of Middle Hall.

Washington College continues its upward progress in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, with today’s announcement that the College is 96th among liberal arts colleges across the nation in the 2018 report. This is showing a continuing positive trend, from 99th last year, 100th in 2016, and 105th in 2015.

On an overall score out of 100, Washington College bumped up from 54 to 56, reflecting factors including the College’s three-year average for retention, which went from 83 percent to 84 percent, increasing selectivity of applicants with an acceptance rate change of 54 to 49 percent, and a peer assessment score—based on surveys sent to peer institutions—that improved by a tenth of a point. Alumni giving also increased from 17 to 19 percent over a three-year average.

As previously, the College continued to be well represented in the “A+ Schools for B Students” category—“where spirit and hard work could make all the difference to the admissions office,” as the listing says.

“I am very proud that we are on this list, and that we continue to improve our U.S. News Best Colleges rankings,” says College President Kurt Landgraf. “It shows how hard we as a College have worked across the board to provide our students with terrific opportunities and a liberal arts education among the best in the nation.”

The CAC – Casey Academic Center on Washington College campus

In the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, 77.5 percent of a school’s ranking in “is based on a formula that uses objective measures of academic quality, such as graduation rates, faculty information, and admissions data,” the report says. “The remaining 22.5 percent is based on academic reputation, determined by a peer assessment from top academics at colleges; in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, ratings from high school counselors are also factored in.”

For more information on Washington College, visit their website.

The Women & Girls Fund’s Impact at Horizons

When the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore was founded in 2002, their primary goal was to seek out and support the best local programs that help women and girls succeed. After much vetting and due diligence on the Board’s part, the Fund early on saw the benefits of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s as one of the best ways to accomplish their mission and give young girls (and boys) the kind of leg up during the summer months they critically need to maintain their learning growth.

The results of those early investments have paid off.  The six-week summer learning program is now serving 170 Mid-Shore students, and have proved to strengthened the students’ academic performance, builds their self-confidence, and nurture citizenship skills.

The Spy sat down with Women & Girls Fund board member Susie Dillon, along with Horizons’ director Bob Parks, co-founder and academic director Connie Schroth, and site director Bibi Schelberg to highlight the problem of lower income students losing critically important educational and social experiences during the summer months as well as Horizons successful approach to filling this important gap through the use of the campuses of the Radcliffe Creek School in Chestertown and Gunston School in Centreville.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s please go here

Editor’s Note:  This is the first in a series of stories focused on the work of the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore. Since 2002, the Fund has channeled its pooled resources to organizations that serve the needs and quality of life for women and girls in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties. The Spy, in partnership with the Women & Girls Fund, are working collaboratively to put the spotlight on twelve of these remarkable agencies to promote their success and inspire other women and men to support the Fund’s critical role in the future.

EHS Students Join Others from Maryland at Classical League Convention

Easton High School students and recent graduates attended the 64th National Junior Classical League Convention at Troy University in Alabama, along with 1700 other Latin students from around the nation. The convention, which took place at the end of July, includes groups of students from all across the country coming together to celebrate the classic languages of Latin and Greek with contests, competitions, lectures, and other activities throughout the week. A total 21 students represented Maryland and made their mark in Alabama. The Maryland “novice” team placed 10th in the country in Competitive Certamen, a game of fast recall of facts about classical civilizations and its peoples, languages, and cultures.Several Maryland students placed nationally in events such as academic testing, essay writing, escape rooms, spirit competitions, talent shows, art contests, and sports.

Easton High Latin Students don togas to represent our region at the 64th National Junior Classical League Convention at Troy University in Alabama.

Each year, students who attend the convention come home not only with their impressive prizes, but with a higher understanding and love for the classics and new friends from all around the state and across the country.  “I strongly believe that what made Nationals special this year was the friends that I made,” said Natasha Panduawawala, the Maryland Junior Classical League President. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to bond with and create a whole new family,” added Kaitlyn Tilley, a rising senior at Easton High.

Studying the classics can be very challenging, so it’s wonderful when hard-working students are able to expand their knowledge and understanding in a favorite subject over the summer. This opportunity is enhanced by being exposed to life on a college campus and gaining experience in leadership and teamwork in a friendly, positive environment.

Nice! Talbot’s Katie Fox Is Maryland Teacher Of The Year Finalist

Each year, the Maryland Department of Education Teacher of the Year Panel selects seven teachers from counties across the State as finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year. Talbot County Public Schools is very pleased and extremely proud to announce that TCPS Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Katie Fox, has been named as a State Finalist.

Mrs. Fox has taught Kindergarten at Tilghman Elementary School since 2008. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan (2002), Early Childhood Teacher Education Certification from the University of Puget Sound, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading from Grand Canyon University (2005). Her prior teaching experience includes teaching first Grade at Chesapeake Academy in Arnold, MD, and third grade, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten at St. John School in Seattle, WA.

Superintendent Kelly Griffith, Board of Education Members Sandy Kleppinger and Susie Hayward, along with Teacher of the Year Supervisor James Redman pay a surprise visit to Tilghman Elementary School this morning to announce that Talbot County Teacher of the Year Katie Fox is one of seven finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year

It is extremely gratifying to see one of our exceptional teachers receive such well-deserved recognition,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, TCPS Superintendent. “Katie is a highly motivated and committed educator who is truly dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the children in Talbot County. We are absolutely thrilled for her and very proud of this accomplishment.”

Fox holds many leadership roles in addition to her responsibilities in the classroom. She serves as Teacher Mentor, she is on the Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee, and the Courageous Conversations – CARE Team and Equity Team. She also leads the Primary Talent Development Team and is a member of the School Improvement Team. She is very active as a community volunteer, serving on the Board of Directors of the Tilghman Area Youth Association, as a Tilghman After School Club – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teacher, an Imagination Library Liaison, a CarePacks of Talbot County Volunteer, and a member of the Mid-shore Reading Council.

Mrs. Fox has received numerous awards for her work including a Northrop Grumman STEM Grant, Bartlett Pear Teacher of the Month, MSDE Teacher as Leader in Gifted and Talented Education and was the first teacher in Talbot County to be recognized through the Talbot County Education Foundation Honor A Teacher program. She lives in Easton with her husband, Nicholas and three children.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced at the annual gala in Baltimore on October 27.

 

Starr Center’s Goodheart Earns National Endowment for the Humanities Award

Adam Goodheart works in the Library of Congress on his new book, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation.

Adam Goodheart, director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, has earned a prestigious Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities to research and write the sequel to his best-selling 1861: The Civil War Awakening.

The NEH grant, in the words of its mission statement, supports “scholarship that will be of broad interest and have lasting impact.” It rewards writers who can bridge the gap between academia and popular nonfiction to shed light on a broad range of topics: from diabetes and species extinction to the French Revolution and—in Goodheart’s case—the Civil War. Scholars must have already published a major book to apply, and the acceptance rate is slender, only about 5 percent.

Goodheart, whose 1861: The Civil War Awakening was a New York Times bestseller, is working on its sequel, 1865: The Rebirth of a Nation. He is returning to the same deeply researched narrative techniques for which the Times praised 1861, saying, “Goodheart excels at creating emotional empathy with his characters, encouraging us to experience the crisis as they did, in real time, without the benefit of historical hindsight. He lets the players speak for themselves and make the best case for their own motives and beliefs.”

1861 was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history, and the audiobook, published by Audible, won the Audie Award in history. President Barack Obama invited Goodheart to an Oval Office ceremony to recognize his role in having Fort Monroe, where part of 1861 is set, declared a National Monument.

“As with 1861, I’m working to evoke the lived experience of a moment in history, through vivid depictions of individual people and places,” Goodheart says. “Doing it successfully requires immersing myself in the primary sources, which is something I love to do. For instance, a few weeks ago I was at the National Archives, delving into the thousands of letters that families wrote to the federal government seeking information on loved ones who hadn’t come back from the Civil War. Reading some of them was an emotional experience, even 150 years later. Those little known but powerful human stories interest me more than troop movements and battle strategies.”

Goodheart has been able to take a part-time leave from his Starr Center duties to pursue the research and perform the writing. The book is to be published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and as a Vintage paperback.

“I’m honored to be supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Goodheart says, adding that he hopes Congress will continue to fund the NEH and its sister institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which are zeroed out in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. “If he succeeds,” Goodheart says, “it will be a disaster for the intellectual and cultural life of our country.”

 

 

Why is George Smiling?

Don’t Worry.  We’re Happy! Say Washington College students.

The Princeton Review ranks Washington College among the top twenty schools in the nation with the happiest undergraduates.

According to The Princeton Review, Washington College is among the nation’s very best institutions for undergraduate education, but its distinctive approach to mentoring students has propelled the college to the top of the chart that measures the happiness factor. Washington College is ranked 16th in the nation for Student Happiness, as noted in the 2018 edition of The Best 382 Colleges released Aug. 1.

Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and two colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is one of The Princeton Review’s most popular guides. Published annually since 1992, it has detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores in eight categories. The book also has ranking lists of top 20 schools in 62 categories, including the Happiest Students category. The Princeton Review’s results are valuable since they are based on surveys of actual students attending the colleges.

Happy WC students on the deck of the Literary House during the 2017 Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference.

“I’m delighted to see Washington College featured in The Princeton Review as one of the best 382 colleges for 2018,” said college President Kurt Landgraf. “Washington College is all about the students, and I am proud to know that our high ‘Student Happiness’ ranking reflects that student-centric focus. This cornerstone of who we are and what we do results in memorable experiences that have a positive impact on students’ personal and professional lives.”

In its profile on Washington College, The Princeton Review praises the college for its “truly personalized education,” and quotes extensively from Washington College students. Among their comments: “Living at Washington College is as good as a college experience can get.”

What a smile! Intern Hebs Guerra-Recinos expresses his approval!

“We chose Washington College for this book because it offers outstanding academics,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and author of The Best 382 Colleges. “Our selections are primarily based on our surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. We also visit dozens of colleges each year and give considerable weight to opinions of our staff and our 24-member National College Counselor Advisory Board. Most importantly, we look at the valuable feedback we get from each school’s customers—our surveys of students attending them. We also keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity, and character.”

The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges from 1 to 382 in any category. Instead, it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The lists in this edition are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 137,000 students (358 per campus on average) attending the colleges. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s career services. The Princeton Review explains the basis for each ranking list here.

Other “Happy Schools” include Rice University, College of William and Mary, Colby College, and Vanderbilt.  The University of California at Santa Barbara is also in top twenty happy schools but they’re practically on the beach so, of course, they’re happy.  St. John’s in Annapolis also made the list.

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Science Programs for Homeschool Students Begin Sept. 5 at Adkins Arboretum

Homeschool students of all ages can get down and dirty with science this fall at Adkins Arboretum!

In Animals of the Arboretum, an eight-session program for students ages 7 to 10, budding scientists will explore the Arboretum’s wetland, forest, stream and meadow habitats to study the native animals of Maryland. From squirrels to skins, foxes to finches, this program uses a hands-on approach to develop key scientific skills, including observation, experimentation and documentation. Scientific equipment will be part of the learning process. Animals of the Arboretum meets every other Tuesday, Sept. 5 to Dec. 12, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

In Forestkeepers, for ages 11 and up, students will learn how forestry—the science of planting, managing and caring for forests—is critical to the preservation of healthy forest ecosystems. Homeschoolers will develop their science skills as they explore the field of forestry through hands-on outdoor experiences. Forestkeepers meets every other Tuesday, Sept. 12 to Dec. 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required for both programs. Visit adkinsarboretum.org for more information or to register your student, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0. 

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.