Author Archives: Taylor

Ice Cream is for Hedgies!

Who Well known for serving up classic flavors along with a constantly evolving roster of delightful, small-batch flavors beloved in Baltimore, Taharka Brothers’ award winning ice cream lineup includes favorites like Honey Graham, Key Lime Pie, and Caramel Crunch. Taharka Brothers is widely known for their unique social mission, focused on creating an impactful, profitable business managed and operated by young adults from some of Baltimore’s most troubled neighborhoods.

What Our fundraiser offers home delivery of small batch ice cream pints from Taharka Brothers Ice Cream. Every order is a custom-made (by you!) 8-pack of pints. Mix and match from the menu when you place your order. Each 8-pack is $65 including delivery, and the Hillcrest PTA receives $10 for every order placed. 

When Dates for ordering: Monday, September 25 at 6am through Wednesday, September 27 at 11pm

Where Available to anyone in the 21228 area code

Why Support the Hillcrest PTA and a local business rooted in social change–and enjoy some delicious ice cream!


  • Visit:
  • Select School Fundraisers
  • Enter HEDGIES as the fundraiser code and place your order
  • Orders will deliver directly to your home on the evening of Friday, September 29

The Return of Literature Night!

Surprises and fun await at Literature Night! After a two-tear hiatus, Hillcrest’s Literature Night makes its triumphant return THIS Friday, February 17, from 6-8 pm. Please join us for a dance party, a spy mission, milk and cookies, the Karma Dogs and more for an exciting evening of family fun!

This year’s theme is Perseverance in the Face of Adversity. We will feature books like A Bad Case of Stripes, Giraffes Can’t Dance, Rosie Revere, Engineer, Spy School, That’s Not Normal and more. We’ll even have the Scholastic Book Fair in the library (credit cards only).

Front doors open at 6…hope to see you there!

American Education Week is Nov. 14-18

American Education Week is an annual, nationwide celebration honoring the enormous team of people who work in our nation’s public schools, everyone from the bus drivers and classroom teachers to the cafeteria workers and administrative staff, plus countless others.

Each grade will have a specific day that parents and caregivers can visit their students’ classroom:

Pre-K: Thursday, November 17 A.M. Class 9:30-11:00 / P.M. Class 1:30-3:00
Kindergarten: Monday, November 14 9:00-10:30 a.m.
First Grade: Wednesday, November 16 9:30-11:30
Second Grade: Monday, November 14 9:15-11:15
Third Grade: Tuesday, November 15 11-12 & 1:30-2:30
Fourth Grade: Tuesday, November 15 9:15-10:50 & 2:00-3:15
Fifth Grade: Thursday, November 17 11:15-12:30 & 2:00-3:15

Please keep in mind:

  • All visitors will need to visit the front office to have their license scanned; if you can come before American Education Week, please do! That will help keep the line down.
  • If you pre-register, you may pick up your badge at the table across from the office (teachers will provide more information).
  • All visitors are asked to park on the street – the front loop must be kept clear of vehicles.
  • Please do not bring siblings to the school.
  • When you arrive to the building, you will be buzzed in. Please come to the front office to receive a badge through the RAPTOR system.
  • All visitors MUST return their badge to the front office and exit through the front doors.

As a reminder, please stay home if you are experiencing any COVID symptoms and remember to sanitize when entering the building.

See you at school!

Custodial Workers Day is October 2!

There are so many ways our school custodians help us out! Shoveling snow, sweeping the hallway, cleaning the cafeteria…the list goes on and on and on! We are so lucky to have Vance Scovens, Brandy Carter, Tracy Gregg-Akenyemi, Dana Green and Kirk Samuels show up for us.

Let’s show our amazing custodial staff how much we appreciate them. Color a picture, write a letter, create a poster or make a card! This is a great way for students and their families to express gratitude in their own, unique way.

If you’re stuck and need inspiration, check out this PDF. Print one or print as many as you need to show your gratitude! There are adaptations for students in all grades.

You can also make your own card or poster or sign. ALL IDEAS AND CREATIONS ARE WELCOME!

All creations should be in your child’s take-home folder to go to the front office by Friday, September 30th. 

If you don’t have time now, no worries. We will have plenty of opportunities in the future to show our appreciation!

Click on the image for a PDF full of ideas for showing our custodians our gratitude!

Welcome back, Hillcrest!

It’s back-to-school time, and as part of the Hillcrest community, we know it’s never too early to appreciate the people who dedicate themselves to our students!

We all recognize that our school is amazing, but did you know that the teachers’ lounge – the place where Team Hillcrest can step away and take a breath – was not amazing?! Obviously, something had to be done.

To that end, the HES PTA spent some of the summer creating a relaxing space for our team to rest and recharge during the school day. Their new lounge was stocked to the gills with coffee and comforts for their return on August 22nd. We are so grateful to the outstanding Hillcrest community members who helped us make this a reality.

To start, a fresh coat of paint by Hands On Painters took the walls from drab to fresh and clean. Owner Jonathan Zawacki has been an active Hillcrest parent for 14 years – with one year remaining as his twins enter 5th grade. All of the paint for this step was graciously donated by the Sherwin Williams store in Arbutus.

The spectacular mural was created by three former Hedgies (Class of 2018!) led by Erin Gunderson, owner of Staub Art Studio. After 14 years as a Hillcrest parent, Erin was thrilled to be able to share this farewell gift with the school she’s been a part of for so long – her youngest just graduated in June.

The couch and loveseat were donated by Liz Baynard, owner of Maxwell & Edison Interiors. Not only is Liz a Hillcrest parent, with a rising 3rd grader and another soon to be Hedgie, but she is also a former teacher and this project meant a lot to her. 

When we asked these people to partner with us on this meaningful project, each of them said “YES” without hesitation and were incredibly generous with their time and resources.

Thank you to them, and THANK YOU to the amazing people who make Hillcrest the special place it is! #TeamHillcrest

Celebrate Juneteenth!

President Abraham Lincoln may have issued his Emancipation Proclamation on January 30, 1863, but it was over two years before enslaved people in Texas received word, when Major-General Grange read General Order No. 3 (above) on June 19 in Galveston. Juneteenth has been celebrated on June 19 since, and in 1980 Texas became the first state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a holiday.

Juneteenth has its own flag (below) and its own traditions, but in many ways it’s similar to July 4th celebrations. Original Juneteenth celebrations included prayer, spirituals and dressing up in fancy clothes, and current-day celebrations have grown to include music and food festivals, educational events and family picnics. The color red features prominently, in food and dress, to recognize the sacrifices enslaved ancestors made (among other reasons).

The Juneteenth flag utilizes the same red, white, blue and stars of the American flag, to make sure that the history of enslaved people is not seen as other than American history; it is American history.

First, let’s get some quick background on Juneteenth from PBSKids, Sesame Street, the Alphabet Rockers, COLOSSAL QUESTIONS, and BrainPop.

As with many celebrations, food is important on Juneteenth. In keeping with the red theme, ingredients like strawberries, red beans, or even BBQ sauce feature in many recipes, and red drinks are particularly important. For some inspiration, check out these vegan collard greens, some old-fashioned tea cakes, or Carla Hall’s Watermelon Salad with Habanero-Pickled Onions and Lime Salt.

And what is a celebration without music and dancing? Just as the “Star Spangled Banner” is synonymous with July 4th, Francis Scott Key’s ode to the stars and stripes is set aside to make way on Juneteenth for the Black National Anthem: “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Dance also has a long history in Black culture, and some styles of social dance can be traced back all the way to enslaved Africans without a common language–or the drums plantation owners prohibited them from having–working to form a community. The Cake Walk, a Black dance parodying the manners of the masters was so well-received that owners requested performances, never suspecting that they were being mocked. Today, dance continues to serve as a powerful form of Black protest.

But perhaps that’s a deep enough dive for now. This post is in no way intended to be a full history of Juneteenth, but a scratching of the surface of a rich history and heritage that so many Americans know nothing about. I recommend taking this opportunity to learn as we teach our children. We have a list of Juneteenth kids’ books (including Juneteenth for Mazie, read aloud here), resources from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History, and President Obama’s 2016 Juneteenth speech. Here’s an article full of writing prompts for children all the way from Kindergarten to the end of High School.

We’ve put together some additional resources to use in school or at home in the hope that Juneteenth will become more than just a footnote at the end of the school year.

Thank you, Upstanders!

Thank you to all of those students who attended our How to be an Upstander! training on June 1. We all learned a lot from each other and have taken big steps toward making Hillcrest an even greater place to be!

We look forward to coming together again after the summer break to continue our work of making Hillcrest the inclusive, equitable, kind place we know it can be! But in the meantime, being an Upstander takes practice, so we’ve put together a list of things to review at home:

It’s not easy to put toothpaste back INTO the tube!

  • It’s fun to squeeze toothpaste out of a tube into a pile or design on the ground, but there are consequences. It tends to make a mess, and it’s difficult and time-consuming (if not impossible) to put it back in the tube.
  • The same can be said about bullying, or even speaking unkind words without really thinking! It might seem funny in the moment, but there are consequences. Feelings can be hurt, or you could develop a reputation as a bully.

How to tell if behavior is bullying

  • Someone who says or does something unintentionally hurtful once is rude
  • Someone who says or does something intentionally hurtful once is mean
  • Someone who says or does something intentionally hurtful repeatedly, and continues doing it even if you ask them to stop, is a bully

What is the difference between Telling and Tattling?

  • Telling means you’re trying to keep someone OUT of trouble
  • Tattling means you’re trying to get someone IN trouble

How to be a Bully B-U-S-T-E-R

  • Befriend the bully’s target make sure they feel supported when they aren’t being bullied
  • Use a distraction try to interrupt bullying by ignoring the bully and talking to the target
  • Speak out and Stand up make sure people know bullying is NOT ok with you
  • Tell someone sometimes you’ll need an adult to help
  • Exit, alone or with others walking away from a bully can drain the power of an audience
  • Review why the behavior is wrong, talk about why certain things are wrong (they’re mean, could get someone in trouble, could hurt someone, etc.)

What are some ways we can demonstrate that we’re Upstanders!?

  • Invite someone to join you at recess
  • Spread interesting facts instead of gossip
  • Thank someone you see doing something kind
  • Stick encouraging notes where people don’t expect them
  • Look people in the eye and say hello
  • Speak up when you see someone who can’t
  • Help others if you see they’re hurt
  • Make sure you have a trustworthy adult you know can always rely (a parent, teacher, counselor, etc.)

Thank you again for your time and your trust!

The ShareBaby Diaper Drive Results

As though we needed any further proof that Hedgies have the biggest hearts, the final numbers from the ShareBaby drive are in and they are IMPRESSIVE!

We were able to donate thousands of diapers and wipes, as well as 36 pacifiers and three bags of clothing.

This drive is especially meaningful because it helps put essential items in the hands of local families who need them. ShareBaby is a Baltimore-based non-profit serving our area’s most vulnerable young children.

To learn how Hillcrest’s donations will help, or if you’re interested in learning more about ShareBaby, check out their website. If you have questions about volunteering with ShareBaby, reach out to Mindy Merlo.

Thank you!

36 pacifiers, 2,104 diapers and 2,604 wipes

Be an Upstander! Training for Students

The Hillcrest PTA Diversity and Equity Committee is excited to offer “Be an Upstander!” to your child/ren. This after-school activity will be held on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 from 4:10 – 5:00 pm. It will be led by PTA Diversity and Equity Committee co-chairs, Taylor Crockett and Mindy Merlo. Unfortunately, transportation will not be available.

The goal of “Be an Upstander” is to support a bully-free and inclusive environment at Hillcrest. Topics covered will include defining and identifying bullying, and ways to safely intervene when bullying is observed. The activity will include discussion about these topics and role-playing to practice skills learned.

If you would like for your child/ren to be a part of these activities, please make sure to sign and return the permission form that will be coming home with your child/ren this week.

Feel free to email either of the Equity leads at or if you have any questions. We can’t wait to work with our upstanding Hedgies!