Two friends win dance scholarships to Goucher


January 05, 1998|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

YEARS OF DANCE lessons, persistence and poise have paid off for Finksburg friends Eileen Mitchell and Jacki Smith.

The girls, seniors at Westminster High School, recently received letters from the Goucher College dance department informing them that they will receive scholarships valued at $8,000 to $10,000 a year, pending a review of their SAT scores and grade point averages.

The awards are renewable for four years on the basis of academic and artistic success at the college. About 120 high school seniors from across the nation auditioned for the scholarships in November by taking two dance classes reviewed by faculty members.

Eileen and Jacki are students at the Patty Neivert School of Dance in Westminster. The girls felt good about the auditions but never dreamed they had danced their way to scholarships for the college, where tuition is about $23,000 a year.

"All the money paid for lessons came back in a weird way. I dance because I love it. I never thought I would get a dance scholarship for college," Jacki said.

Eileen said, "I felt prepared for the auditions and I had fun. But it was hard to watch everybody because it was so competitive."

Eileen and Jacki live in the same neighborhood, share the same commitment to dance and share high praise for their dance instructor Patty Neivert, director of the Westminster dance school and a Goucher College graduate.

Though the girls started dancing long ago, they didn't take dance seriously until they trained with Neivert.

"Ms. Patty pushes us to do our best, 105 percent, all the time. I think it is wonderful that she cares for us as dancers and as people," Jacki said.

"She is interested in us now and in the future. She is really professional, and she cares about all her dancers," Eileen said.

Neivert said, "I'm extremely proud of these lovely dancers. I have worked closely with them over the past six years, and I've watched them blossom each year. The investment each family has made to their daughter's training over the years has certainly grown with these lucrative awards."

Jacki, daughter of Sharon and Michael Smith, plays clarinet in the marching band and has played the piano for nine years. She hopes to minor in dance and major in music education.

Eileen, daughter of Gary and Susan Mitchell, takes part in the Career Connections program at Westminster High School, which allows her to leave school early to teach classes at Neivert's dance school. She started training with Neivert in the sixth grade and dances 15 to 20 hours a week.

"I love all forms of dance -- jazz, tap, modern and point. If I'm not dancing, I can't stand still," Eileen said. "It is a form of expression and exercise that is fun."

Behind the image

Youngsters likely know that Robert E. Lee was regarded as the Confederacy's greatest general during the Civil War. A new book by a professor from Western Maryland College explains how he earned that reputation.

"Robert E. Lee: Southern Hero of the Civil War" by Ramona Kerby, assistant professor of education, examines the man behind the battlefield image. The 128-page book aimed at middle school students considers how the general's sense of duty and honor and his devotion to his home state of Virginia shaped his character and his decisions before and during the Civil War.

The book, part of the Historical American Biographies Series, follows Lee through childhood, education, marriage, family life and military career.

Kerby is the author of 10 books for children, including the award-winning "38 Weeks Till Summer Vacation." Last year, she went online with an Internet site for mid-Atlantic authors.

"The Author Corner: Mid-Atlantic Authors & Illustrators" was designed to acquaint children with the works of local writers and entice them to visit the library to check out books.

It also provides them with the information necessary to contact the author by e-mail.

A member of the WMC faculty since 1994, Kerby earned a master's and doctoral degree in library science from Texas Woman's University.

Kerby, a former elementary school librarian in Texas, also has a master's degree in counseling education from Texas Christian University.

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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