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Senior Awards Ceremony 2017
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by Sarah Grace McElwain

photos by Molly Lewing

On Wednesday, May 31, the Walkersville High School graduating class of 2017 gathered with the WHS administration, teachers, and their families and friends for the Senior Award Ceremony, held in the WHS gym.

Before the ceremony started at three o’clock, senior advisors Susan Pardo and Amy Graunke as well as the administration team met with the graduating class to discuss senior week and graduation procedures. The senior class then left to walk through Walkersville Elementary School where they gave Starbursts to students there.

After the opening procession, accompanied the WHS Band, Principal Tracey Franklin gave a welcoming speech.

“I’m incredibly excited. It’s going to be an emotional two days for all of our graduates, for the families and the friends that are going to be here to support these young people. It has been a labor of work over the last three days and I think they are going to make us all incredibly proud,” said Franklin.

After an introduction from Franklin, senior Caylee Winpigler gave a speech on what the future holds for this year’s graduating class. “No superhero ever acted alone, and neither have we. In the end it doesn’t matter whether you were in the stands, at home, or on the field; we all played a part in the success of our high school class,” said Winpigler.

“Our super hero story does not end here — in this room sits the next generation of superheroes… We are ending our first major film. Today we offer a sneak peek at what is to come. The world’s desires are at our bidding… Walkersville High School class of 2017, your sequel is coming.”

Following the speeches came the Departmental Awards, presented by the Department Chairs. Barry Burch, transition education chair, began the awards, giving awards to seniors Hellen Parada, for her work at Walkersville Elementary School with bilingual students, Taylor Mercer, for her commitment to her internship at the local SUCCESS program, and Megan Martin, for her work study at Frederick Memorial Hospital and Eddie’s Landscaping.

Senior Andrew Ashley received the department award from the Project Lead the Way Engineering Program and senior Kaci Stears was presented the agricultural education award for her work in the FFA.

English teacher and department chair Thomas Kollai presented the English department awards next. Senior Caleb Engle was presented an award for his work and commitment as an editor for the Journalism Class.

Senior Joey Moss was presented the Excellence in Language Award and senior Caleb Chen was presented the Excellence in Literature Award. Winpigler was presented with the Spirit of English award for her dedication and passion for English.

Math teacher and department chair Mark Cronk announced the department awards for Math. Seniors Olivia Ruth and Moss received awards for being role models and for their love of learning and understanding mathematical concepts. “This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for who you are,” said Cronk.

Pardo presented the awards for the Health and Physical Education Department. Seniors Kelcie Robertson, Josh Clegg, Alec Parker, and Chad Gleason received awards for their positive attitudes for competition and learning.

“All of these students have mastered rigorous courses which have prepared them to be leaders that promote health and fitness for the rest of their lives,” said Pardo.

Science teacher and department chair Stacy Bureau presented the Science Department awards. Seniors Quinn Cavanaugh, Harshi Patel, and Moss received awards for their work in upper level science courses, Science National Honor Society, and at various science internships. Seniors Faith Gordon, Patel, and Chen were also recognized for their achievement in Science Olympiad.

Social Studies Department awards were presented by teacher and department chair Paul Daly. Seniors Ruth and Moss received the History Award and seniors Austin Lajoie and Winpigler received the Social Sciences award.

Visual Arts department chair and teacher Sue Maseth presented the awards for the Arts Department. Senior Jessica Kaczor received an award for her work and commitment to the Visual Arts and seniors Denae Hurt and Kasey Shawver received a Publication Award for their dedication and work on the WHS Yearbook.

Teacher and department chair Heather McFadden presented the awards for the Drama Department. Seniors Cody Strange and Rachel Wilson received awards for their accomplishments in the Performing Arts. Lucas Hogan, music teacher and department chair, presented Wilson with an award for her accomplishments in the music department.

Finally, Spanish teacher and department chair Loyda Lugo-Goff presented the World Language department awards. Seniors Ethan Welty and Alexis Vasquez received awards for their work in upper level Spanish classes and involvement in Spanish National Honor Society and Spanish Club.

Senior Lajoie received an award for his accomplishment in French classes. Senior Rebekah King received an award for her dedication to American Sign Language and her internship at the Maryland School for the Deaf.

Franklin then took some time to recognize the WHS guidance counselors for their hard work and time spent helping every student succeed. “The hours have been tireless, I can’t even begin to tell you what that looks like behind the scenes as well as the administrative assistants in the counseling department,” said Franklin.

She then recognized senior Jessica Handwerk for becoming a finalist in the National Merit Program.

Assistant Principal Greg Keller then presented the Merit Scholastic Award,  recognizing the top five percent of the senior class. These seniors included Ashley, Emma Bernardoni, Hannah Chavez, Chen, Kyle Daggett, Rylee Duncan, Maddison Hommey, Lajoie, Moss, Kaitlyn Oberhaus, Patel, Robertson, Megan Wells, Welty, and Winpigler.

Fourteen Advanced Placement Scholars were recognized. Three Advanced Placement Scholars with Honor and four Advanced Placement Scholars with Distinction were also recognized.

Recipients of the Kappa Alpha Psi award were recognized by Franklin. Senior students who completed academic schedules were recognized as part of the Academic Intensity Program. 98.4% of the graduating senior class are graduating with Tier One or Tier Two schedules. Six seniors were also honored as dual enrollment FCC scholars, receiving their green cords to be worn at graduation. The FCC distinguished scholar, Hommey, was announced.

Assistant Principal Cindy Johnson then recognized Career and Technology Center completers Chavez, for Biomedical Sciences, Lauren Keen, for the Academy of Health Professionals, Natalie Miner, for Cosmetology, and Wells for Biomedical Sciences.

Pardo then introduced the scholarship presenters. So far, the Class of 2017 has been offered $7,796,398 in scholarships and awards.

Athletic director Mike Mummert presented the Natalie Morris Award to Chavez and the Bill Talley Award to senior Garrett Lowe, both for their achievement in varsity athletics. Mummert also presented the WHS Athletic Boosters scholarships (recipients include: Grace Armogida, Crouch, Daggett, Duncan, Hommey, and Wells).

Representatives from two local American Legions presented scholarships to seniors Welty and Kayla Swain. Sgt. Larry Bishop of the Sons of the American Revolution presented a scholarship to senior Jaxon Harris. Paula Bingham, representative from FASSE, presented a scholarship to senior Anthony Devincentis.

PTA scholarships were awarded to seniors Myiah Seymour and Chavez. Collin Bernardoni presented a scholarship to senior Emma Bernardoni. Ltc. Brian Moore from the Naval Academy presented Harris with a full-ride to the Naval Academy.

Senior Lowe was presented a scholarship from the ROTC. A representative from the Marine Corps. presented seniors Winpigler with the Semper Fidelis Award and Kyle Daggett with the Distinguished Athlete Award.

The Frederick Shopping Center Scholarship awarded Chavez with a two thousand dollar scholarship. Guidance Counselor Geri-Beth Chavez presented the Jacqueline Shae Youth Memorial Scholarship for swimmers to seniors Armogida, Oberhaus, and Jack Chavez. The Sean Rascoe Memorial Scholarship was presented to senior Eowyn Campbell.

Patricia Greene, representative of the Walkersville Alumni Association, presented eleven scholarship awards. Senior Wells received the STEM Award and senior Emma Lochner received the Education Award. Senior Maddie Sorell received the FCC Award. Seniors Josh Miller, Duncan, and Ashley received scholarships from the WHS Class of 1967 in honor of their 50th anniversary.

Patel and H. Chavez received the Lawrence “Tommy” Dorsey Memorial Scholarship and Ferguson and Robertson received the Bill Talley Memorial Scholarship. Hommey was the recipient of the Intergenerational Scholarship. Finally, Duncan, Wells, Crouch, Hommey, and Garrett Allen received the Jerry Crum Memorial Scholarship.

PTA President Robin Ibex presented scholarships to seniors Wells, Miller, Welty, H. Chavez, Handwerk, Michael Schnepfe, and Anna Sepanic. Guidance Counselor Deborah Phebus presented scholarships for the Glade Valley Lions Club. Senior Ferguson was the recipient of the Michael D. Schrodel Scholarship.

Senior Sepanic was recognized for receiving the Student Peace award. Many other scholarships and students were recognized.

Assistant Principal Sherri Murphy then recognized members of the senior class who achieved Academic Excellence. In order to qualify for Academic Excellence, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher. Almost two-thirds of the senior class had achieved Academic Excellence.

Franklin then concluded the Awards Ceremony with a heartfelt speech, praising the class’s accomplishments and prefacing tomorrow’s graduation ceremonies. “I want to congratulate each and every one of you. In almost 24 hours from today we will convene at Mount St. Mary’s and say our final farewells,” said Franklin to the senior class. “Because in about 24 hours, you will become a graduate and an alumni.”

Congratulations to all of the many seniors who received honors, awards, and scholarships at today’s Award Ceremony!