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& JINGLE BELL CLOCKED Adventure Theatre-MTC recounts classic Christmas tune. A-11 The Gazette OLNEY DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Wednesday, November 27, 2013 25 cents Retailers say: Shop local, now and later Small merchants tout variety, specialized customer service n C O U N T Y T R U A N C Y BY COURT-STYLE PREVENTION PROGRAM LOOKS BEYOND ATTENDANCE n DAN GROSS/THE GAZETTE University of Baltimore School of Law student Andrea Bento (left) and assistant state’s attorney George Simms (right) listen to a student during Truancy Court at A. Mario Loiederman Middle School in Silver Spring. students seats GETTING BACK IN LINDSAY A. POWERS AND ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH BY M STAFF WRITERS ontgomery County students who repeatedly miss class are getting guidance from unlikely allies: local prosecutors and judges. In a program that spread to the county from Baltimore in 2010, Montgomery County prosecutors and a local judge meet with students facing a range of attendance issues, from persistent lateness to chronic absence. According to a report by Montgomery County’s Office of Legislative Oversight, “habitual truancy” is defined as missing 18 days in a semester or 36 days of school in a school year. About 984 county public school students were habitually truant in 2009, including about 627 in high school, the report HABITUAL TRUANCY Montgomery County Public Schools’ habitual truancy rate has increased slightly in recent years as Maryland’s rate has decreased. “Habitual truancy” is defined as missing 18 days in a semester or 36 days of school in a school year, according to a report by Montgomery County’s Office of Legislative Oversight. 2.5 2.0 STATE 2.32% 2.25% 1.93% 1.89% 1.80% 0.63% 1.13% 1.08% 2011-12 2012-13 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 MONTGOMERY 0.72% 2008-09 0.40% 2009-10 2010-11 SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, MARYLAND STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION says. The same year, more than 8,600 students were chronically absent, missing 20 or more days of school. Montgomery County ranks in the middle of the pack among Maryland counties’ habitual truancy rates. TERRI HOGAN STAFF WRITER The Truancy Court Program is in five Montgomery County See TRUANCY, Page A-10 Local retailers are urging Olney consumers to spend their holiday — and year-round — shopping dollars with them. American Express is again promoting its Small Business Saturday, encouraging consumers to shop at small merchants Saturday, the day after Black Friday. And while the Olney Chamber of Commerce supports the campaign, Executive Director Jon Hulsizer encourages shoppers to continue to support local businesses for more than just one day. “The Olney Chamber of Commerce endorses this philosophy by encouraging everyone to think local and to shop small business for the entire 2013 holiday season,” he said. “There is so much to be found right here in the greater Olney area. Shopping locally not only means saving on gas, or running into neighbors and friends, it shows your local small businesses how important they are to the quality of life here.” The Maryland Retailers Association says retailers depend on shoppers during the holidays to maintain their ability to provide economic vitality to their communities and are the largest private-sector employer in Maryland. Tom Christopher, owner of Christopher’s Hardware in Ashton, agrees with the importance of supporting local businesses. “We employ locally and we bank locally, so everything stays right in the community,” he said. “The people who work here turn around and spend their money at other local merchants.” Christopher said small businesses can offer something that large retailers can’t: items specifically geared to the community. “For instance, homes built in Olney Mill or Lake Hallowell were built during a certain era, with certain components,” he said. “We understand the local demand and are able to stock specific items, such as a special-sized furnace filter or a faucet washer. It’s a level of personalized service you aren’t going to find at the larger stores.” Christopher said a vibrant local economy enhances everything about a community. It keeps shopping centers full, allows businesses to support local charities, helps property values and generally enhances the quality of life. “Getting in your car and driving outside the community takes time, and time is money,” he said. “Money’s cheap, but time you can’t replace.” Debi and Mike Klein have owned and operated The Backyard Naturalist in Olney for 25 years. “It’s been such a joy to see the different gen- See LOCAL, Page A-9 It’s a once-in-a-lifetime holiday: Thanksgivukkah Convergence of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah hasn’t happened since 1888 n BY TERRI HOGAN AND PEGGY MCEWAN STAFF WRITERS What do you get when you combine Thanksgiving and Hanukkah? Thanksgivukkah? Or maybe Thanks-a-latkes? This is the year to make the most of the convergence of the two holidays. It hasn’t happened since 1888 and it will not happen again “in our lifetime,” said Rabbi Bentzy Stolik, director of Chabad of Olney. “It’s impossible to determine if it will ever happen again,” Stolik said. “Hanukkah follows the Jewish calendar, which is based on a lunar system, but the number of months changes every two or three years to catch up with the Gregorian calendar.” With the annual changing of Thanksgiving Day, which is celebrated the fourth Thursday of November, it’s easy to see that the turkey might not catch up with the lighting of the menorah candles again for a long, long time. “I’ve heard it will next happen in about 7,000 years,” said Ruth Lamberty, director of jconnect, a NEWS SPORTS Two more file to run for county seats. Magruder High School grad recovers from serious blood clot, pursues dream of playing professional soccer. COUNCIL RACE ATTRACTS NEW BLOOD A-4 A PATH WITH MANY DETOURS B-1 service of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Hanukkah actually begins at sundown Wednesday, with the traditional celebration of the lighting of the first candle of the eight-day festival, a traditional meal and, for many, sharing of gifts. Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple, desecrated by occupying See THANKSGIVUKKAH, Page A-9 Automotive Business Calendar Classified Entertainment Opinion School News Sports Please RECYCLE TERRI HOGAN/THE GAZETTE Employee Cheryl McDonald organizes a display of Scout bags in preparation for holiday shoppers at Gorman’s Garments & Gear in Olney. B-13 B-5 A-2 B-9 A-11 A-8 B-6 B-1 Check out our Services Directory ADVERTISING INSIDE B SECTION 1906197

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