Students recognized for academic turnaround

December 05, 1996


Staff Writer

Bridget James once missed 30 to 40 days in one school year. Her attendance and grades were so poor she dropped out of school in the 11th grade, she said.

Now in her fifth year at Hancock Middle-Senior High School, James has made a remarkable turnaround in her grades and attendance, said Principal Boyd Michael III.

James, 19, was one of 15 students honored at a Thursday luncheon at the Fountain Head Country Club for improving their grades, attendance and discipline within the last year, said Karen Kennedy, an administrative aide with sponsor 1st National Bank of Maryland.


Some of those students were in danger of dropping out of high school and, in the case of James, did drop out at one point, officials said.

James credits her 3-month-old daughter Katie Myers for her turnaround in the classroom.

"She's changed me a lot. I want her to be proud of me," James said.

South Hagerstown High School student Brandon Oldham credits his turnaround to church, saying the Tri-State Church of God near Boonsboro has helped him.

Oldham, 15, is on the distinguished honor roll as he repeats his freshman year after failing school last year, said South High Principal Richard Martin.

The highest score Oldham received as a marking period grade was a 54 last school year, compared with his lowest score this school year of 93, he said.

His attendance also has improved, from missing about 17 days to missing only three so far this school year.

Each student received a certificate of achievement and a silver dollar from 1st National, officials said.

Thursday's luncheon inaugurated this new recognition program for Washington County high school students, said Larry Kershner, regional sales manager for 1st National. Four recognition ceremonies will be held every school year, one for each marking period.

The program had been successful in Frederick County, Md., for nearly 10 years and fit in well with Washington County Board of Education officials' plans to honor accomplishments from students that don't normally get recognized for their achievements, such as the straight-A students and star athletes, Kershner said.

Two students could be recognized from each high school. Most students were nominated for the recognition by their high school principals and guidance counselors.

The following students were honored on Thursday:

Williamsport High School's Daniel Dumire and Bobby Welty; South Hagerstown High School's Brandon Oldham and Gretel France; Smithsburg High School's Kristie Matthews and Joe Kennedy; North Hagerstown High School's Christopher Miller; Hancock Middle-Senior High School's Michael Wills and Bridget James; Clear Spring High School's Michele Murray and Dani Barry; Career Studies Center's Nathan Whetzel and Gary Barthelow; and Boonsboro High School's Arthur Easton and Mellissa Carter.

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