3 share Francis Scott Key High valedictorian honors


June 03, 1999|By Judy Reilly | Judy Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"THE HARDEST PART of this year happened when the yearbooks came in on Thursday, and we started passing them around for signing," said Elizabeth Kurrle, a graduating senior at Francis Scott Key High School.

"I wasn't prepared for it. Every other year, I've written something in my friends' yearbooks like, `Have a good summer, see you next fall,' " she said. "Now I'm writing to people I may never see again after graduation. I don't know what to say."

Elizabeth probably hasn't always been at such a loss for words. She will share the honor of valedictorian with Jessica Fitzgerald and Heather Partner when they graduate from Francis Scott Key High at 7: 30 p.m. Sunday in ceremonies at Western Maryland College.

All three have perfect grade point averages of 4.0. They will deliver a shared commencement address to 249 classmates, plus families, friends and guests. "It's our last homework assignment," said Heather. "And our worst."

Elizabeth, Heather and Jessica fall into the category of those who seem to possess it all: brains, beauty, talent and upbeat personalities.

All attribute their perfect grade point averages to hard work, staying focused, not being distracted by involvement in extracurricular activities -- and not giving into sleep. They talked about spending many long nights solving calculus problems and the discipline it took over the years to stay awake and stay on track.

They also credit their success to family support. None of their parents bribed them to get high marks, they said, but always encouraged them to do their best. Their parents offered encouragement, showing up for the track meets, band concerts and school performances their daughters participated in.

"And getting a wake-up call after I'd been up most of the night, or having my mom pack my lunch or make breakfast when she knew I'd been pushing myself, was a tremendous help," said Jessica.

And push themselves they did. All three are members of the National Honor Society. Elizabeth played lacrosse, and with Jessica, served in the student government and ran cross-country track; Jessica sang in the show choir and chorus and joined the multicultural club.

Elizabeth acted in school plays and Heather worked on shows' technical crews. Heather was drum major for the marching band for two years, a position she said helped develop her leadership and people skills.

After graduation, Elizabeth will travel to Chile to visit her mother's relatives before heading to Cornell University to study animal science. Heather will work for Gist Answering Service before going to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Jessica will work as a waitress at the Taneytown Pizza Hut before attending Western Maryland College.

All three have received scholarships.

The young women noted their own personal development over the past four years, and credited their high school's small size, friendly and close-knit atmosphere and acceptance of individual differences as a key to their self-confidence and growth.

As for advice they'd give incoming freshmen who want to succeed, they all agreed: "Do what you're supposed to do, and don't get distracted."

Summer of reading

If summer is around the corner, then the summer reading club sponsored by the Carroll County Library can't be far behind. The kickoff summer beach party will be from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday and features fun-in-the sun activities for kids through middle school: face- painting, juggling, sidewalk art, beach games and a petting zoo with animals dressed for the beach.

It's a celebration to "Catch the Reading Wave," this year's reading club theme.

"Last year the library was packed for the kickoff party," said librarian Amy Schildwachter, who anticipates an equally enthusiastic crowd this year.

Last year, 11,000 kids countywide participated in the reading club, with more than 1,000 coming to the Taneytown branch for books, activities and prizes. This summer, Schildwachter says, prizes for reading are categorized and geared to entice older youngsters to the library week after week.

As for the activities and games, there's something planned four days of the week through August, including craft days, weekly story times, visits by the Maryland Science Center and state police staff, a Scholastic Book Fair and an appearance by the Oriole Bird on June 10.

The reading club is open to all children through age 14. It begins Monday and runs to mid-August. Information: 410-751-1980.

Medallions for sale

The Taneytown Heritage Committee is selling a limited-edition Millennium Medallion featuring the town office building. The gift-boxed pewter keepsakes are sold for $15 each, or $27 for two and $50 for a box of four.

"They're really beautiful," said Anna Motter, member of the Heritage Committee.

Medallions can be ordered from Motter at 68 York St., Taneytown 21787, or you can buy the keepsakes in the town office. Information: 410-756-2257.

Judy Reilly's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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