UNIONTOWN — Yesterday, Adele Mowers was singled out from the crowd at Francis Scott Key High School, where community service has become as much a part of education as algebra and English.
The 17-year-old senior was awarded the Horatio Alger Youth Award by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc., during a daylong program on community service.
She was the only Maryland student selected for the award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship.
"Wow. I really was surprised," said Mowers, the daughter of Fred and Kathy Shaw of Linwood.
"I didn't know I won until I heard my name."
Eleni Koutsouradis, daughter ofSteve and Mary Koutsouradis of Taneytown, was a finalist for the scholarship.
"I am very happy," the 17-year-old senior said. "I'm very proud of Adele. She really deserved it."
Key was the only Maryland high school selected for the nationwide program, and one of 51 schools nationwide.
FSK has earned a statewide reputation for its community services program and was nominated by the Maryland Student Service Alliance.
John D. Kemp, executive director of the United Cerebral Palsy Associations Inc., was the keynote speaker for yesterday'sprogram.
After the award program, students broke into groups to work on a variety of community service projects, from baking cookies for soup kitchens to wrapping gifts for Secret Santa, who delivers presents to area needy families.
"You do such a super job of giving of yourself on a day-to-day basis -- how you care about each other," Principal George Phillips told students. "You don't have to be the best athlete. . . . You have to care about each other and the community.
"You do better than any students I know."
Mowers' selection asthe scholarship winner brought the crowd of juniors and seniors to their feet in the school auditorium.
Mowers, who plans to attend college and become an elementary-school teacher, was selected for demonstrating outstanding self-reliance, individual initiative and integrity, leadership in school activities, academic achievement and a commitment to public service.
"I'm just a bit overwhelmed," said her mother. "Gosh, words are not sufficient to describe this type of situation. I know she's definitely worked hard."
Worked hard indeed. Herlist of accomplishments, announced before the award, reads like a biography in a "Who's Who Among American High School Students."
She's a member of the Science Club, Key Club and National Honor Society and is ranked among the top 5 percent of her class.
"I love kids," she said when asked about her involvement in community service programs.
Her favorite community service project, she said, was helping with an Easter egg hunt last spring at Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School in Baltimore.
Yesterday, she helped make and decorate folders of school supplies for the pupils there.
"It just makes you feel real good," she said. "The reaction of the kids is really great to see."
Like Mowers, Koutsouradis, who hopes to become a pediatrician, is involved in a variety of after-school activities, many of which include community service programs. She has helped with canned food drives and volunteers at Carroll County General Hospital.
As the award recipient, Mowers will travel to Washington to participate in a National Scholar's Conference in April. She will meet with members of the association and the other 50 scholarship winners.