Centennial valedictorian's life is more than books

June 03, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Jeffrey Lindon's academic performance at Centennial High School is a lot like his oboe, a woodwind instrument whose high, penetrating tone often stands out among other instruments.

The oboe has "a little bit of a reedy sound, but it's pure and it has a tendency to cut through everything," the 18-year-old said.

Like his instrument, Mr. Lindon has transcended the halls of Centennial High with his high grades and performance in band. Yesterday, he graduated first in his class of about 280 students at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Commencement speaker Lawrence H. Cohen, a former assistant principal at Centennial, urged the graduates to pursue love, success, friendship, and happiness in their lives.

"If you hit all four, you'll have hit a home run," said Mr. Cohen, now the principal of Oakland Mills Middle School.

He also told the graduates to use failure as a learning experience.

"If you never experience a setback, it means you've never tried to accomplish a goal," he said. "Turn setbacks into successes and opportunities."

Student speaker Margaret E. Muench compared her fellow graduates' educational experience to traveling down a road filled with 'side paths."

"As we start out on our own roads, it is both sad and exciting," Miss Muench said. "Never again will we be back on the same road. It is memories of the road that we have traveled together that we will carry with us."

Student speaker Elana R. Smith exhorted her fellow graduates to take advantage of opportunities that come their way.

"Seize these days, take everything that happens to you and make them important," Miss Smith said. "Already, I wish I had studied a little harder, read a little more."

Mr. Lindon has already seized numerous awards during his four years at Centennial. They include Most Valuable Player in band, two outstanding soloist awards, and the school's coveted Angelo Fortunato Scholastic Award, named after the school's first principal.

"He works hard at everything he does," said Jack Schwalm, music department chairman. "He's just one of those kids that sets very hard standards for himself and achieves them."

But Mr. Lindon is no nerd.

In addition to editing the school's award-winning newspaper, Wingspan, and playing in the Peabody Concert Orchestra, he has competed on the track team, and acted in school plays.

In his spare time, the Dorsey Search resident performs magic tricks at birthday parties, rides a unicycle and juggles. One of his favorite activities is making up puns.

"Playing around, listening to things, hearing things in different ways, it keeps your mind active," Mr. Lindon said.

Journalism adviser and English teacher Kathy Baer recalled how Mr. Lindon often helped ease the stress of meeting deadlines by making puns.

"He loves puns and plays on words," Ms. Baer said. "He's one of these calm kids."

Rather than draw attention to himself, teachers said, Mr. Lindon is always looking to help others.

Ms. Baer recalled one night Mr. Lindon spent hours teaching juniors how to edit and design the newspaper. He even allowed one student who was having trouble designing a page to use his personal computer at home.

"They worked well past midnight," Ms. Baer said.

Teachers also noted Mr. Lindon's avid curiosity.

"He loves to learn because he's curious, not just because he wants to earn grades," Ms. Baer said.

"If there are things that I want to learn or are not being taught, I've found that I'm my own best teacher," Mr. Lindon said. "If I want to learn something, I pick up a book."

Last summer, he participated in a six-week program at the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt where he worked on a polarized laser system. Before that, he studied oboe for two summers at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Mich.

This summer is a little less rigorous. Later this month, he will represent Maryland at a two-week program for honors high school students at the Fermi National Laboratory. Then he and his mother, Marlee, will travel to Alaska on a 10-day cruise.

"The rest of the summer, I'll probably relax," Mr. Lindon said. "I'll probably teach myself the calculus that I didn't learn."

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