Class of '99 shines with school pride


June 07, 1999|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AS YOU GLANCE over the sea of mortar boards and flowing gowns at graduations, do you ever try to imagine what really runs through the students' minds as they wait to cross the stage?

I suspect that as the 537 Westminster High School graduates listened to National Honor Society President Andrea Drzewiankowski, Class President Amanda Kuhl, and Jodi Alison Martin, president of the student senate, bid them farewell during Saturday's ceremony at Western Maryland College, some were focusing on the speeches and appreciating the highlights of their high school years.

Other graduates were probably planning last-minute details for beach week or perhaps pondering the earning potential of their next job. And most of the seniors probably felt appreciation for their favorite teachers, their friends and their families.

Their advisers hope that each student felt pride in knowing that the Class of 1999 brought school spirit back to Westminster High School. Teachers watched years of waning enthusiasm about going to dances or getting involved in senior projects, many say, until the Class of 1999 roared through.

"This class wasn't happy doing things like everyone else. These students wanted to do things differently, do things better and get better participation at all the events," said Sherri Wahlgren, who was a senior class adviser with teachers Christine Fisher and Noelle DeMars.

"They had a crab feast, a costume party and a packed house at the prom," said Wahlgren. "I think that because of the executive board, the seniors blazed new trails and pumped up the school spirit."

The executive board consists of the class officers -- Kuhl, president; Rebecca Kuchera, vice president; Theresa O'Byrne, secretary; Jessica Holman, treasurer; and Melissa Hildenbrand and Anne Kacmarski, historians -- as well as approximately 40 homeroom representatives who met on a regular basis to map out not only the class's social calendar, but also a host of service projects throughout the years.

As much as this class enjoyed having a good time, it also took time to recognize what class adviser Fisher called "unsung heroes."

"I get goose bumps every time I think about how this class, in a landslide, elected Chuckie Toth as prom king," said Fisher. "Chuckie is the funniest guy who was in a class for students with special needs. The fact that the election was not even close says so much about this class. This is an incredible group of kids."

When the Class of 1999 found out about a teacher who, as a single mother, was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for a child hospitalized at Johns Hopkins and three other children, they organized a "Disco Inferno" dance to raise money for her. Kuhl also went to the store and bought big Easter baskets for the children.

The Class of 1999 often baked cookies and wrote thank-you notes to the people who maintained or cleaned the school. At the end of the year, this class gave staff members gift certificates to local restaurants.

"They are very compassionate and appreciative," Fisher said. "This is the kind of class that doesn't just go to a dance and run out; they clean up afterward."

Many people credit the success of this class to the class president. Kuhl knew the right direction to take this class and the other students stepped up, they said.

"This was a class of leaders, elected and unelected," said Assistant Principal Gordon Love, senior class administrator. "They have led by example in the community and in the school, and they have provided lots of memories and dreams for other young people to shoot for."

Most likely to ...

The list of accomplishments of many community leaders often includes such illustrious high school honors as Biggest Flirt, Most "In" With The Faculty and Most Likely to Succeed.

These are the kinds of awards that as you get older and start to "remember when " with your friends, you chuckle.

"Good old Sandy Oxx [executive director for the Carroll County Arts Council]. Remember when she was named Class Clown?" her classmates might recall. "Or Harry Sirinakis [owner of Harry's Main Street Grill] -- it figures he got Best Hall Roamer."

Carey Gaddis, public information specialist for Carroll County Public Schools, was once elected Most Popular, and Gabe Zepp, a marketing specialist for economic development, garnered Best Looking during his high school years.

The Class of 1999 now has its list of honorees, too, thanks to the yearbook staff. And I'll bet that one day, when they can get time away from the chaos and time-consuming responsibilities that adulthood often brings, they'll flip open a dusty yearbook and smile.

Carly Forton, who shared the Most Likely to Succeed award with Sean Javins, thinks "it's ironic" that she earned her award. "I'm going to St. Mary's College, but that's all I know," she said.

Yet, her classmates recognized that as yearbook editor and president of the art honor society, success is in her future.

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