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Students need a note

Carroll County Public School students wanting to travel to the nation's Capital for Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, will need to seek permission from their principals.

Carroll County Public Schools will be in session on Inauguration Day, but students attending the event in Washington with a parent or guardian will be considered having an excused absence.

However, their absence must be approved by their principals prior to Tuesday, Jan. 20, according to school officials. Parents and students should contact their school offices with any questions.

-- Charles Schelle

On the big screen

The Carroll Arts Center, 50 W. Main St., Westminster, will open on Tuesday, Jan. 20, to allow residents and guests to watch the television coverage of the Presidential Inauguration on the big screen.

"It's just such a historic event, and the fact that this theater used to be segregated is certainly (in mind)," said Sandy Oxx, director of the arts center. "A lot of people want to view (the ceremonies) in a communal setting, but the thought of the crowd and the cold makes going really difficult."

There will be no charge, but free tickets are available in advance to ensure seating – and as of early this week, Oxx said about half were gone. "We've been thrilled with the response," she said.

The Carroll County NAACP branch will sell refreshments as a fundraiser for the chapter.

Coverage is expected to run 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will include the swearing-in ceremony (noon) and the parade (2 p.m.). Call 410-848-7272 for details, or go to carrollcountyartscouncil.org.

-- Jim Joyner

Bartlett holds lottery

Like most U.S. Congressman, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett was deluged with requests for tickets to the Presidential inauguration. Lisa Lyons Wright, Bartlett's press secretary and legislative assistant, said the congressman pulled the plug a few weeks after the November election. By then, he'd already gotten more than a thousand requests for the 198 tickets he is allocated.

Rather than attempt to wade through the deluge, Bartlett did what he's done in previous inaugurations – late last week, he held a lottery.

Wright said the privacy act prohibits disclosing names of any of the lucky winners (who get two tickets each). But she noted this year's inauguration frenzy is not terribly different from ticket demand for past inaugurations.

"We're always inundated with more demand than supply," she said.

-- Bob Allen

Essays link MLK Jr., Obama

When McDaniel College, the Carroll County Public Schools Department of Minority Achievement, the Carroll County NAACP, the MLK Celebration Committee and the Office of Multicultural Services started planning for its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest, members thought the idea of linking King and President-elect Barack Obama was a natural.

So the group crafted questions for elementary, middle, and high school students, private and public in Carroll County, that challenged students to think about King's legacy in terms of Obama's election as president.

"This is an historic event, and we thought, 'what a better way to put it in perspective?' " said Patricia Levroney, minority achievement liaison for CCPS.

She admits the idea wasn't embraced by all. She said one middle school, which she declined to name, was reluctant to link King, who they viewed as a religious and spiritual leader, to the political world of Obama. But another school, she said, expressed that it was "excited" about the contest question.

The proof will be in the entries -- the contest normally fields about 500, Levroney said. Next week, while Obama is taking the oath of office, judges will start their work.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be held Monday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m., in the Alumni Hall at McDaniel College. Contact Levroney at ptlevro@k12.carr.org or 410-386-1680.

-- Jim Joyner

No 'Hail' for this chief

Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding is known nationally as a supporter of the Special Olympics movement and the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run. In fact, this year he was awarded the "John Carion Unsung Hero Award" for his ongoing volunteer work related to Special Olympics.

So when it was announced that the Special Olympics Torch Run would be part of the inaugural parade for Barack Obama, Spaulding was on the list of those invited to stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Spaulding got an invitation ... but won't be there. He said Inauguration Day will find him where he ought to be – in Westminster.

"It was quite an honor to be invited," Spaulding said. "I didn't want to get down there and not be able to get back here if something should happen. Basically, I had to think my primary responsibility was here in town. We have added positions on that day and we'll be out there to ensure there are no issues or problems."

-- Katie V. Jones & Jim Joyner


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