Board of Education Approves Calendar Changes

The Board of Education approved several recommended changes to the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 approved school calendars at their February meeting.

With 2017-2018 being the first year of the mandated post Labor Day start, the school system was faced with new challenges in meeting the requirements of COMAR for the number of days students attend school.  Four inclement weather days were built into the calendar, and as of January 17, 2018,the school system had already used all of them.  This necessitated amending the 2017-2018 approved calendar to change January 26 (Transition Day) from a day off for students and a work-day for teachers to an early dismissal day for students.  The Board also approved a conditional waiver request to be submitted to the Maryland State Board of Education, which would have allowed schools to be open on Presidents’ Day, February 19, 2018 if needed.

“While the excessive number of inclement weather days in January was unusual, we realized that this situation could occur again in future years,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  “In order to be proactive, we have proposed several changes to the approved calendars for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.”

For 2018-2019, Transition Day will be identified as a potential make-up day should TCPS use all of the built-in inclement weather days prior to that date.  Presidents’ Day will be a potential make-up day provided a waiver is obtained from the Maryland State Department of Education, and April 18 (the Thursday before Easter) will also be a potential make-up day.  In addition, there will be a total of 6 inclement weather days built in to the school year due to the fact that June 14, 2019 falls on a Friday.

For 2019-2020, the same changes will apply for Transition Day and Presidents’ Day, as well as the Thursday before Easter, which falls on April 9.  However, there will once again be only 4 inclement weather days built in, as Friday June 12 has been set as the last day of school and June 15 falls on a Monday.

“We hope that by outlining these potential changes in this far in advance, staff and families will be able to plan accordingly,” Dr. Einhorn added.

Valcik is Named Principal at Easton Middle School

Talbot County Public Schools has appointed Mrs. Jaclyn Valcik as Principal of Easton Middle School. Valcik has served as Acting Principal since October 2017, replacing Dr. Norby Lee, who officially retired at the end of January.

Mrs. Valcik earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Towson University and a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision I from Loyola University.  She has Maryland Advanced Professional Certification in Elementary Grades 1 – 8 and Administration & Supervision I and II.  She has served as Assistant Principal at Easton Middle School since 2014.

“Mrs. Valcik has demonstrated outstanding commitment and enthusiasm during this interim period,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent. “She has proven that she has the background and skills to provide strong leadership at Easton Middle School.”

Valcik began her career with Talbot County Public Schools in 2003 as a long-term Substitute at Chapel District Elementary.  She then taught third grade at Easton Elementary – Moton from 2003 to 2007, first grade at Easton Elementary – Dobson in 2007-2008, and sixth grade English/Language Arts at Easton Middle School from 2008 – 2010.  Mrs. Valcik was Talbot County Teacher of the Year for 2010 – 2011.  She was promoted to Assistant Principal at Easton Elementary School in 2010, where she remained until 2014.

“I am elated about this opportunity,” Valcik said. “The past few months have been both exciting and rewarding, and I consider it a privilege to lead this fantastic, dedicated team of educators and serve the Easton Middle School students and their families.”

Mrs. Valcik resides in Easton, Maryland with her wife Amanda and daughters Brynn and Bryce, who both attend Talbot County Public Schools.

TCPS Presents 2017 Graduation Data to Board of Education

Talbot County Public Schools presented Cohort Graduation and Dropout Data at the February Board of Education Meeting.  Mrs. Lynne Duncan, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative and Support Services gave a detailed overview, which included explaining what qualifies as a high school diploma, defining categories of “drop-outs” and sharing results for particular cohorts, or groups of students.

For the class of 2017, the four-year cohort graduation rate was 84.69% for Easton, 100% for Saint Michaels Middle High and 87.11% for Talbot County as a whole.   This represents an increase over 2016 when the graduation rates were 82.11%, 100% and 85.51% respectively.  The State of Maryland graduation rate for 2017 was 87.67%.“We are happy to see this progress over last year,” said Dr. Kelly Griffith, Superintendent of Schools, “but we are by no means satisfied, as it is our goal that every student eligible to receive a standard high school diploma do so in four years.”

For the class of 2016, five-year cohort, the graduation rates were 84.91% for Easton High, 100% for Saint Michaels, 87.78% for all Talbot Schools and 89.47 for the state of Maryland.

There were a total of 46 non-graduates for the class of 2017.  Four of those are anticipated to graduate in 2019, and three were special education students who earned their Certificate of Attendance.  The 39 actual dropouts can be summarized as follows:

• 10 students moved out of the area and did not enroll elsewhere
• 9 students left the traditional school setting to work on their GED
• 8 students turned 21 and are no longer legally eligible to attend school
• 4 students left to work full-time
• 5 students dropped out in spite of multiple interventions
• 2 students became incarcerated
• 1 student became a parent and left school

To further address the graduation/drop-out rate in the county, a number of dropout prevention and re-engagement strategies and interventions have been continued or put into place by both the Student Services and the Drop-Out Prevention and Re-Engagement Coordinator, a new position to TCPS this year in partnership with the Talbot Family Network.

ECAS High School Choral Competition to Highlight ECAS 40th Anniversary

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, in an inaugural event, eight high school choral ensembles will compete onstage at the Easton High School Auditorium for a total of $5,000.00 in prize monies. The ensemble that is judged the best based on their performance that day will receive a check for $2,500.00, second place $1,500.00 and third place $1,000.00. Donations from generous supporters of the Easton Choral Arts Society and grants from the Mid-Shore Foundation and Talbot County Arts Council are making this competition possible. Wes Lockfaw is the Artistic Director of ECAS.

The competition will begin at 1PM with the performance of the first choral group. The final chorus will perform at 3:30 PM. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 or online at There is no charge for students. Prize monies must be used for the winning schools’ choral music departments.

The eight high schools that will be performing are, in alphabetical order: Arundel High School, Anne Arundel County; Bel Air High School, Harford County; Easton High School, Talbot County; Edgewood High School, Harford County; Kent Island High School, Queen Anne’s County; Liberty High School, Carroll County; The Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore City; and Tower Hill School, New Castle County (DE). More than 226 students will be competing.

Judges for the March 3 competition will be Dr. William M. Folger, Dr. Devonna B. Rowe, and Dr. James Wilson. Dr. Folger is an Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Salisbury University. Dr. Rowe is currently on the music faculty in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Dr. Wilson is an Associate Professor of Music, Chair of Music &The Arts, and Director of Choirs at Wesley College, Dover.

As competition coordinator Carolyn Harrison explained:“Developing this competition has been a journey. The journey began with a much narrower scope than what rapidly developed over the course of last spring. As we approach our destination I am pleased with what ECAS has created. It will be a wonderful showcase for the high school ensembles that will take to the Easton High School stage competing for significant monies that will further their choral programs.”

Easton Choral Arts Society choristers are excited about the competition, responding with enthusiasm to the committee’s request for assistance. From offering to donate baked goods, to reaching out for competition booklet ads, to signing up to lend their physical support at Easton High School on March 3, the singers are being highly supportive.

For further information regarding the Choral Competition, please contact the ECAS Choral Competition Administrator and Chair, Carolyn Harrison, at:

Film Festival Showcases TCPS Students’ Work

The 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival showcased four films created by students in the Interactive Media Production pathway at Easton High School.  The showcase included the winning submission from the 3rd annual Easton High School Film-In, as well as other student works.

The Film-In is a highly anticipated and popular event with Easton’s Interactive Media students, in which they are challenged to make a film that is completely storyboarded, shot, edited, and presented within 6 hours (one evening), and which incorporates a surprise genre, prop, line, event, theme, and actor, as well as other twists as the evening progresses. The 2017 winning team, “The Buds,” comprised of Easton seniors Nathaniel Trice, Catherine Blizzard, Alexis Miller, Nick Covey, junior Justin Copper, and sophomore Seth Wagner, will be at the pane to talk about their winning film Revelation. The film follows a student through a spiritual and enlightening experience.

Teacher Matt Stroka attempts to wake Nick Covey from a meditation in “Revelation”

The Chesapeake Film Festival is on the advisory board for Easton High School’s Interactive Media Production pathway, and one of the major supporters of the annual Film-In. Advisors work with students throughout the evening, as well as serve as judges at the end of the event.

Other student films that were showcased at Chesapeake Film Festival included senior Jack Stevens’ film Inspire, which tracks the passion and evolution of a filmmaker from smart phone to digital SLR and beyond. Also showcased was Silence, a short voiceover film by Easton High School and Interactive Media pathway graduate Joel Flora; and a PSA challenge for Talbot goes purple that was filmed in one continuous shot by Junior Ruby Grant.   The showcase was followed by a film panel discussion with students.

Mrs. Garnette Hines, who teaches the Interactive Media Production pathway at Easton High School, was thrilled for students to have the opportunity to showcase their work at the festival this year. She says, “The Interactive Media Production pathway is built upon the concept of a “real-world” application of skills. Each year I look for new opportunities for students to create media that is visible in our community. Students strive to create professional—looking films, and they are editing using industry-standard Adobe software. The Chesapeake Film festival has been a huge supporter of our young filmmakers, and the partnership has grown each year. The festival is an incredible opportunity for them to be recognized.”

Biomedical Science – Project Lead the Way Program Receives Recertification

St. Michaels Middle High School’s Biomedical Science – Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program received their initial certification on December 18, 2012.  Schools that adopt the PLTW program sign a School District Agreement requiring them to begin the process of certification by the beginning of their second year and to renew every five years after that. The purpose of certification is two-fold: to ensure implementation of a high quality PLTW program and verify college credit eligibility for select PLTW courses.

The three-step certification process involves: a self-assessment, site visit and final certification report. PLTW certification standards are outlined in the self-assessment document and demonstrate schools meet PLTW quality standards in: professional development of teachers and counselors; implementation of curriculum using required equipment and software; and the formation of a Partnership Team, among others.

From L-R: Pamela Clay, Career and Technology Education Curriculum Supervisor; Marcelina Castleberry, student; Katie Stang, student; Robin Werner, Science and CTE Teacher; Caroline Lenkiewicz, student; Sincere Taylor, student; Tracy Elzey, Saint Michaels Middle High Principal

Certification Minimum Requirements

1. A teacher who has successfully completed PLTW Core Training teaches PLTW courses.
2. Classroom equipment and software meets or exceeds the PLTW specifications.
3. A partnership team that supports the program and meets on a regular basis with a specific agenda and goals to accomplish.

We are proud to say that St. Michaels Middle/High School’s Biomedical Science program has met the requirements and has been recertified for 5 more years.  High school students completing a four-course PLTW sequence at a certified high school have access to the biology college credit at the Affiliate Universities nationwide, according to the terms and conditions of each individual credit process at each affiliate university.  In Maryland, Stevenson University awards the college credit for students successfully completed the program of study.

“We are very excited about this important achievement for the Saint Michaels Middle High Biomedical Science – Project Lead the Way program and the opportunities it presents for our students.” said Career and Technology Education Curriculum Supervisor Pamela Clay.”  More information about Talbot County Public Schools Career and Technology Education is available through the Easton High School and Saint Michaels Middle High School guidance offices.

Katelynn Cherry Earns Multiple Choral Honors

Saint Michaels Middle High School junior Katelynn Cherry has been selected for All-State Chorus and All-Honors National Ensemble, and will be performing in the Honors Performance Series in New York City next month.

Katelynn performed as Soprano 1 with The All-National Honors Ensemble on November 26-28, 2017 at Walt Disney World, having been selected through an audition by the National Association for Music Educators.  As part of this process she was required to have recommendations and to have participated in All State Chorus the past.  She also auditioned and was selected for the Honors Performance Series mixed chorus as Soprano 1, which will take place in New York at Carnegie Hall February 1-5.

On March 11 she will perform with All-State Chorus where she is Soprano 1 with the mixed chorus, and she will sing with the All-Shore Chorus as Soprano 1 in April.  She will also compete in the Solo and Ensemble competition on February 7th at North Dorchester High School.

Katelynn has been studying voice for 9 years, beginning with Gail Aveson in Easton. She has also studied with John Wesley Wright from Salisbury, and taken Master Classes with Badiene Magaziner, Bob Marks and Rachelle Jonck from New York. She spent the summer of 2017 at Boston University Tanglewood Institute studying voice and music at the Young Artists Vocal Program and earned six college credits. She currently studies voice at Peabody Preparatory with Alina Kozinska.

Cherry’s ultimate aspiration in music is to become a professional Classical singer, however she loves all musical genres, including rap, jazz, bluegrass, oldies, and rock & roll. In addition to her school related chorus endeavors, Katelynn performs with Soli Vocal Ensemble from Howard County and often does solo work locally.She also has numerous achievements to her credit aside from her music.  She is finishing her year as Miss Maryland/Miss Delmarva Fire Queen and she is also a Girl Scout and a member of 4-H. She has earned her Diamond Clover award with 4-H and will finish her Gold Award with Girl Scouts this summer.  She is the daughter of David Cherry and Karla Wieland-Cherry and resides in Trappe.

Program Focusing Upon the Integration of Talbot County Public Schools

Integration Through a Child’s Eyes, a program focusing upon the integration of Talbot County’s public schools, will be presented Thursday, January 11, 7-9pm at the Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton.

Brown v. Board of Education ruled in 1954 that “separate but equal no longer had a place in our public education,” and states were ordered to desegregate their schools “with all deliberate speed.”

The Talbot County Board of Education would desegregate our schools one grade at a time, choosing freedom of choice as their method of compliance. Despite a small bomb exploding at the back entrance of the elementary school on South Street, progress would be made.

Moderator Constance Morris Hope, with 35 years of experience promoting understanding among people of diverse backgrounds for the US government and international agencies, and featured speakers JoAnn Asparagus Murray and Charles Hines will guide us through our history. Their presentation will be followed by a panel discussion of shared experiences and how lessons learned might guide us today.

This program is being presented by the Talbot County Democratic Forum, and is free and open to the public.

Easton High “Warrior Chorale” Invited to Finals of Choral Competition

The Easton High School Warrior Chorale has been invited to compete in the finals of the Easton Choral Arts Society High School Choral Competition. The competition began by inviting any public or private high school within an approximate 120-mile radius of Easton and with a minimum of 12 singers to submit two recordings for blind auditions. A panel of judges reviewed each submission, and nine choirs were invited to participate in the finals.  It was somewhat like the first round of The Voice but for choirs instead!

On March 3, 2018, in the EHS Auditorium, the Warrior Chorale will compete against the other finalists for a chance to win a $5,000 in prize. The prize funds will go directly back to the winning choral program and would help offset the cost of purchasing new music, hiring accompanists, and reducing the cost of the end of the year performance trip. Each finalist will perform three selections, from a different major musical time period (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, etc.). The competition will be adjudicated by a panel of three highly accredited judges and winners will be announced that evening.

The Warrior Chorale, shown here performing at the Talbot Hospice 2017 Festival of Trees. Photo credit: Randy Bachand Photography.

The Warrior Chorale is an auditioned ensemble comprised of Easton High School students in grades 9-12.  The ensemble rehearses daily and performs a wide variety of music from traditional choral music to popular music to musical theatre. Its members are Laurie Alltop, Haley Anderson, Samantha Bonnette, Madison Cordle, Sabrina Davis, Madelyn Hancock, Eleanor Brett Hutchinson, Tah’Jay Jenkins, Matthew Keeler, Sophie McGee, Haley Nestel, Natasha Panduwawala, Michaela Russ, Jonah Sanders, Josiah Sanders, Neil Siegman, Jessica Smith, Noah Thompson, Alison Todd, Eve Van Horn, Richard Seth Wagner, Claire Weedon and Emily Wittman.

Mrs. Andrea Stewart Davis, B.M.E., M.M. directs the EHS Warrior Chorale and is a Theater Arts Instructor at Easton High School. Mrs. Davis made her international performance debut in July, 2017, at Lake Como, Italy, and recently conducted internationally at the Delaware Choral Academy in Aix-en-Provence, France. Her choirs are praised for their musical nuance and their energy and enthusiasm as an ensemble.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 3, 2018, and come out to hear the EHS Warrior Chorale bring down the house.  Additionally, the EHS Warrior Chorale and Women’s Choir will present their Winter Concert in the EHS Auditorium, on Tuesday, January, 23, 2018, at 6:30pm. The Warrior Chorale will follow up their performance in the ECAS Choral Competition with their spring concert on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 6:30pm. They will conclude the 2017-2018 year with a performance at the Night of the Arts on Thursday, May 10, 2018, in conjunction with the EHS Warrior Band and Fine Art Department.

The Warrior Chorale also wishes to acknowledge Les Lentz of Les Lentz Sound Productions for his dedication to the EHS choral program.

EHS Students Kick Off Chick-fil-A Leader Academy™ 2017 Programming

Students from Easton High School joined forces to pack 100 meals which were sent to the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore.  This service project was organized as part of the students’ participation in the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy™, a national high school leadership program that not only teaches students leadership skills, but also empowers students to put their skills into action.

David Salyers, Vice President of Brand Activation at Chick-fil-A Inc., says students have an immediate and direct impact through the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy when they pack meals for those in need.  “We are excited to partner with high schools across the country with the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy to provide opportunities for the next generation of leaders to strengthen their communities,” said Salyers.

The Chick-fil-A Foundation offers financial support to the impact projects and local Chick-fil-A Franchisee Operators sponsor the program for the schools in their community and often serve as mentors to the students involved. The Easton High program is being sponsored by Matt Gibson, owner of the Easton Chik-fil-A, in partnership with the Easton High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club, which is led by their advisor, Mrs. Jennie Peitz.

Each month, the FBLA club meets and completes the activities planned through the Leader Academy.  “At the October meeting, Matt Gibson was there to introduce himself and give an overview of the program,” said Mrs. Peitz. “As an added bonus, he brought sandwiches for all of the students!”

Students are expected to learn leadership skills and apply them throughout the school year to plan and implement their impact projects. The students don’t just learn about leadership in the classroom, they also get out in the community to put what they learn into action, making an “Impact through Action” in their community.

Learn more about the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy at


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