Marshall Botkin, a sociology professor at Frederick Community College, is the newly minted author of "Thoughts and Stories From My Russian Sojourn." 

The 122-page collection of fictitious short stories, based on true events from Botkin's travels, paints a picture of Russian culture that the author hopes dispels stereotypes and shows the country's character, according to a Nov. 14 news release.

Botkin is of Slavic heritage and began exploring Russia in the 1990s, and he chronicled his travels to preserve his memories. He later decided to turn them into a book to share those experiences with others.

The book is sold through Amazon and the FCC bookstore, which will host a signing event from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Thursday.

STEM contest picks locals

Two county teachers are among five state finalists and 255 in the nation for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, a program that asks schools to use science, technology, engineering and math to solve real-world problems in their communities.

Andrea Maruskin, of Monocacy Middle School, proposed a project to boost the population of brook trout in Tuscarora Creek, which runs through her school's yard. Laith VanGrootenbruel, of Brunswick Middle School, wants to create a safe passage for the growing number of deer along U.S. 340.

Each will create lesson plans to outline how their students will address the problems, according to spokeswoman Lindsay Hyman. One winner from each state and Washington will be chosen this winter. Fifteen national finalists from that pool will pitch their idea to a panel of judges in the spring.

Five national winners will be chosen in April by public vote online at, Samsung employees and a panel of judges. Top prizes include Samsung technology with an estimated retail value of up to $120,000 and professional development courses.


Incumbent April Miller has been declared the official winner of the fourth and final open seat on Frederick County's Board of Education, defeating first-time candidate Ken Kerr by 43 votes. He has decided not to ask for a recount.

That means all three incumbents running for re-election — Miller, Brad Young and Colleen Cusimano — will reclaim their spots on the school board for the next four years. Miller and Young were elected in 2010, while Cusimano joined the board in August 2013 to replace member Jimmy Reeder after his death in July 2013.

Newcomer Liz Barrett will also take her place on the board after earning the most votes on election night. 

Their terms begin Dec. 17.

Have something to say about education in Frederick County? Email me at or call 240-215-8652.

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