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Calvert County has once again been named one of America’s 100 Best Communities for Young People.

The county was given this title for the third year in a row last Wednesday, Sept. 12, in a televised announcement made by the youth-oriented nonprofit America’s Promise.

Local organization the Calvert Collaborative for Children and Youth Inc. (CCCY) has been the force behind the county’s application for the award and held a celebratory “watch party” last Wednesday at Calvert Library Prince Frederick.

Patuxent High School Principal Nancy Highsmith joined Patuxent students Sandie Goldstein, 15, and Ronnie Forster, 17, to see the award presentation in person at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

The only other Maryland county to be recognized was Washington County.

“It was very moving. ... It was especially exciting for Calvert to once again be picked,” Highsmith said, continuing that she was interested to learn what other counties’ initiatives were.

Highsmith said she suspected representatives from her school were selected to attend the D.C. presentation because they had maintained a close relationship with CCCY over the past few years.

“We’re stressing rigor and especially trying to get our African-American students in more rigorous courses,” she said.

Goldstein and Forster, both of whom do student government at a school and county level, said they enjoyed sitting on stage during the award presentations.

“We’re just really proud of our county,” said Goldstein, a freshman, who said she enjoyed hearing what other counties are doing to improve high school dropout rates.

Forster, a senior, said one county had started giving out 600 college scholarships to students while they were in middle school.

“That was a big help to parents who probably can’t afford it,” he said, adding of his own county, “Calvert County is doing great and we should keep doing what we’re doing.”

At the watch party, CCCY President Guffrie Smith, who is also a member of the Maryland State Board of Education, explained that counties are selected for the honor based on how they fulfill America’s Promise’s five “promises” in a community: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others.

“Let’s give another big roar,” Smith said, when Calvert was announced on TV, though he did add that “we can always be better.”

“This is not for us to sit back and say ‘oh, we’ve got it made,’” said Smith, who said CCCY’s next big focus will be improving graduation rates, which is now ranked at greater than or equal to 95 percent in Calvert.

Smith also invited the public to stick around after Wednesday’s celebration and tell him what they thought future CCCY focuses should be.

Patuxent High School senior Raphael Douglas spoke at Wednesday’s celebration and talked about how his school and football team supported him after he lost both of his parents.

“That Christmas, people I didn’t even know gave me presents just to make life a little easier,” Douglas said. “I owe all of my succes in school and on the football field to the people at Patuxent High School and in Lusby.”

Plum Point Middle School student Hayley Koteff read an essay she completed as part of the America’s Promise application, detailing the various programs for young people within Calvert.

“Calvert County has many activities to keep you busy and help you build a great future,” she said, listing everything from athletics to the arts to Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs to the Calvert County Fair.

Smith said the award will be presented to the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners in October.

ldukes@somdnews.com