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Banquet honors at-risk teens' work

April 26, 2001

Banquet honors at-risk teens' work



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

With poor grades and attendance, graduation seemed an unlikely prospect for North Hagerstown High School senior Natasha Williams.

With the help of the Maryland's Tomorrow program, Williams is passing her courses and is on track to walk across the stage and accept her diploma this year, said case manager Terry Brown.

William's was one of more than 120 students participating in the program for troubled teenagers to be recognized for their achievements during a banquet Wednesday at the Plaza Hotel.

Brown teared up when describing the improvements Williams has made. He said the teenager works three part-time jobs and plans to study nursing at Hagerstown Business College.

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"It's been a pleasure to be a part of your life. You've worked hard and come a long way," he said.

The Maryland's Tomorrow program provides at-risk students with academic assistance, individual attention and aids in goal-setting and other teen issues. Participants remain in the program through graduation.

The program is successful only when parents, students and case managers work together, said Brown.

"You know you can depend on me and I know I can depend on you," he said.

Brown called North Hagerstown High School student John Wallech "the poster boy for Maryland's Tomorrow.

South Hagerstown High School case manager Patty Felix said her students were like family.

"We were asked to say just a few words about each kid but that's hard - we're a part of their lives," she said.

She credited senior Jamie Beck for her perseverance and willingness to help other troubled students.

Since getting her act together, Beck has participated in internships and been a mentor, said Felix.

Brown said North Hagerstown High student Mary Herdeman was one of the Maryland's Tomorrow program's biggest success stories.

The senior's 3.5 grade-point average has already earned her two college scholarships, he said.

"They've done a lot of hard work and made a lot of sacrifices," said Brown.

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