Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Residents rock at reading

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Photo courtesy of Literacy Council of Montgomery County
Milton Whitley of Gaithersburg was recently honored by the Literacy Council of Montgomery County. He is learning to read.
The Montgomery County Literary Council honored several county residents on April 17, including Milton Whitley of Gaithersburg and Bei En Shen of Derwood, who received Outstanding Student Awards for their enthusiasm and dedication to learning.

Judy Whiton of Gaithersburg won an award for ‘‘Tutor Contact of the Year.”

Whitley, 53, read and wrote below a fourth-grade level when he took up tutoring to learn to read with the council, said Shelly Block, a Literacy Council spokeswoman.

‘‘He came in thinking that he was unteachable,” Block said.

After several weeks, Whitley had begun to read new words, she said. Whitley reads short stories, Block said. He is recognizing new words on road signs, in the newspaper and on milk cartons.

‘‘I had to start from scratch,” Whitley said. ‘‘Now I’m reading sentences, I can do a lot now, I can write a check now...write my address, I didn’t know how to do any of that.” Going to the grocery is a much better experience, he said.

‘‘I used to be in the store and sweat bullets, I would be in the aisles and be afraid I would look stupid,” he said.

He began skipping school in first grade but after starting the council’s computer tutorial program and working with Mary Ellen Freeland, who gives him cassette recordings that assist with his homework, he believes ‘‘education is powerful, it sets you free,” Whitley said.

Among his daily joys? ‘‘I can read the sports page now and I’m having a blast, I did all this in one year!” He plans to pursue his GED and maybe write a book.

Shen, 62, a Chinese immigrant, arrived in the U.S. five years ago with a strong command of grammar and reading skills, but conversational difficulty, Block said. The home health care aide used her improved vocabulary and conversational skills to pass the test to become a U.S. citizen in October.

‘‘I still want to learn more English...especially in conversation speaking,” Shen said. ‘‘Speaking is hard for me, I think. Because now I work for Chinese person so I haven’t spent much time speaking English.”

Shen is happy to live in America and have become a citizen, she said, ‘‘because I can vote.”

To learn more about the Montgomery County Literacy Council call 301-610-0030 or e-mail

Scholarships awarded

Last week, the family of former Mayor Ed Bohrer presented four high school seniors who live in Gaithersburg with $2,500 scholarships to help pay for college.

Kennedy Martinez and Martha Santos of Gaithersburg High School, Hannah Seligmann of Quince Orchard High School and Murktarat Yussuf of Col. Zadok F. Magruder High School in Derwood received the W. Edward Bohrer Jr. Memorial Character Counts! Scholarships named for the former mayor who helped establish the city’s program 11 years ago.

Campus Congratulations

Richard Raymond Flynn of Gaithersburg, a junior management major at Lynchburg College in Virginia, was inducted to Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society. Heather E. Lasslett of Gaithersburg achieved the dean’s list at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., for winter term 2008.

*Wesley Schantz Sr., son of Michele and Eddie Schantz of Gaithersburg, and a graduate of Gaithersburg High School, participated in Habitat for Humanity over his spring break from Washington College in Chestertown, where he is a senior and a Spanish major.

*Margaret Renee Bivans of Darnestown, daughter of David and Laura Bivans, received the Alice McCaa Class of 1976 Biology Award at Mary Baldwin College in Stauntan, Va., this spring.

*Lee Brooks, son of Paula Brooks of Gaithersburg, graduated from the James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. He received a certificate of recognition from the Delta Chi Educational Foundation for exceeding academic standards. Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in political science and history.

March on down

Come one, come all to the annual Laytonsville parade!

This year’s town parade, ‘‘A Salute to our Armed Forces,” will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday along Laytonsville Road from Brink⁄Sundown Road to Maple Knoll Drive. Travelling in the parade will be military veterans, vintage cars, the Gaithersburg High School Trojan Band, the Wheelman, a monster truck, the Laytonsville Volunteer Fire Department and more.

The Laytonsville Elementary School Spring Festival will follow from 1 to 5 p.m. at the school. There will be food, a bake sale, a silent auction, a dunk tank, Moon Bounce and games for children of all ages, as well as a 1K Fun Run. Parking will be available at designated locations throughout the community.

For more information, contact Cathy Buit, Town Clerk at 301-869-0042.

It’s berry good

The Potomac United Methodist Church will hold its free Strawberry Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Potomac United Methodist Church, 9908 S. Glen Road in North Potomac.

The event will offer desserts, a silent auction, a rummage sale, games and activities for children, a plant and flower sale and arts and crafts by more than 20 artisans. Proceeds benefit the church’s outreach efforts.

Historic home tour

Visit five historic homes on Gaithersburg’s ‘‘Street of Mayors” from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, as part of a historic home tour sponsored by the Gaithersburg Historical Association and Historic Walker Avenue homeowners.

The $15 admission includes tea and scones at the Gaithersburg Inn Bed and Breakfast, a restored house dating to 1783 located at 104 Russell Ave. Money raised will benefit the Gaithersburg Community Museum. For more information, call 301-926-2650 or e-mail

Submissions for People and Places must be received by 10 a.m. Thursday. Send submissions to Patricia M. Murret via e-mail at, fax at 301-670-7183 or mail to The Gaithersburg-Montgomery Village Gazette, 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.