A hectic, fulfilling time at Glenelg and River Hill


May 28, 1998|By Geri Hastings | Geri Hastings,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

STRAINS OF "Ode to Joy" could still be heard as high school seniors in red and black caps and gowns wiped away tears and hugged their family members, friends and one another.

Glenelg High School's graduation ceremony Tuesday was the culmination of a hectic week of activities led by class President Michael Farley -- an awards program and reception May 20, a senior breakfast May 21, and a class picnic at Centennial Park followed by senior class night at the Turf Valley Country Club on Friday.

Senior Joanna M. Bissell welcomed families and friends to the graduation ceremony.

Her remarks were followed by a performance by the Senior Choir of "The River" by Garth Brooks and Victoria Shaw.

The song's first two lines set the tone for the evening.

"You know a dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows, and the dreamer's just a vessel that must follow where it goes."

Beth G. Santilli and Bryan G. Stepp delivered the senior addresses, and Principal Bonnie S. Daniel -- completing her first year at Glenelg -- presented the members of the Class of 1998 to the audience.

Glenelg's is the only county high school graduation that takes place at the school. The ceremony, balanced between dignity and feelings of togetherness, showed how deeply the school is rooted in the community.

At the awards assembly, seniors were recognized for their accomplishments with awards presented on behalf of a variety of community organizations.

Santilli won the McDonald's Ray A. Kroc Youth Achievement $2,000 scholarship, in recognition of her outstanding leadership skills and involvement in the school and community.

Kristina Vaskys received a $1,000 scholarship from American Legion Post #223 of Sykesville for being an exemplary student and leader.

Jenna Bythrow received the Bausch and Lomb Science Award, in recognition of outstanding achievement in the sciences. Bythrow was also introduced as a finalist in the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Academic Achievement Program, and Caroline Jones was introduced as a semifinalist.

April Jackson received a $1,000 scholarship from the Howard County Center for African American Culture in memory of the descendants of the Cooksville High School for Black Students.

She received another $1,000 scholarship from the Howard County Foundation for Black Educational and Cultural Achievement, based on her academic accomplishments, involvement in school and community activities and an essay.

Kim Laws was presented a $500 award given annually to an athlete who displays a positive attitude, discipline and a team approach to sports in memory of coach Thomas Kaminski, a member of the school's original faculty.

Students were recognized with school awards, faculty awards, and PTSA awards, to name a few.

Julie Apel, Joanna Bissell, Jennifer Buffington, Kristin Hucht, Justin Krometis, Kristen Purdum, Laura Sinon, Jones, Bythrow, Stepp and Santilli were recognized for being in the top 5 percent of the senior class.

Katherine Fasinski, Meghann Francis, Michael Hennick, Jason Lanier, Marshall Mundy, Jonathan Ratican, Martin Reilly, Julie Rupsis, Erin Sandler, John Shoffeitt and Vaskys were recognized for being in the top 10 percent of the class.

Leigh Bender was a finalist in the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Talent in the Arts for Instrumental Music, and Bythrow was recognized as a finalist for vocal music.

PTSA Awards for the Best Academic Students of 1998 were given to Glenelg seniors who earned a cumulative 4.0 grade point average: Apel, Bissell, Bythrow, Jones, Purdum, Santilli, Sinon and Stepp.

River Hill's first graduation

Members of River Hill High School's first graduating class proudly walked across the Merriweather Post Pavilion stage yesterday as family and friends looked on.

Young men in navy blue caps and gowns, and young women dressed in caps and gowns of Carolina blue received their


Led by class President Caitlin Ring, the seniors created their traditions, designing the senior activities and graduation ceremony. The students chose social studies teacher Lee Preston as keynote speaker.

Senior class night at the Columbia Inn on Thursday, the senior picnic at Centennial Park on Friday and the senior awards assembly Tuesday were all firsts for River Hill.

In spite of the frenetic pace, Principal Scott Pfeifer was impressed with senior class night -- and with the cohesiveness of the Class of 1998, whose members had all spent the first two years of high school at other schools before being redistricted to River Hill.

"It was a wonderful class night," Pfeifer said. "The students are really pulling together, and it's been really exciting for everyone involved. I know that River Hill's first graduating class will always be a special part of me."

Caitlin Morrow Bair received the school's Top Flight Award as the most outstanding graduate.

Ingrid Elizabeth Frank, Sarah E. Johnson, Regina Lee and Elizabeth InYoung Spies were each given an Outstanding Senior Award -- based on scholarship, leadership and service to the school.

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