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99 seniors recognized for service in Washington County

May 29, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - As a requirement for graduation, Maryland public school students must complete 75 student service learning hours. Megan Jones has completed more than 1,700.

"Most people see it as a hassle and they do what they have to do just to get it done," the 17-year-old North Hagerstown High School senior said. "I don't look at it that way."

Jones, who racked up the hours while volunteering as an aide at a YMCA summer camp three summers in a row, was one of 99 Washington County high school seniors honored Wednesday for going significantly beyond the requirements of the student service learning program.

The students, who each completed at least twice the required hours, received certificates during a "Senior Honor Night" at Robinwood Medical Center.

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Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, who spoke at the ceremony, called recognition for outstanding service "one of the highest honors a person can get."

Morgan emphasized that service can be rewarding because it builds connections, skills, knowledge, teamwork and problem-solving abilities, as well as a deeper sense of fulfillment.

"Congratulations on taking a step toward a very fulfilled life," Morgan told the honorees.

Jones, one of two Washington County seniors to complete more than 1,000 hours, said this sense of fulfillment was part of what drove her to keep volunteering.

"Sometimes I wanted to go out and just be a normal kid and have fun with my friends, but I knew it would help me in the long run," she said of her summers working with children at YMCA's Camp Holiday.

Jones said her experience with children has helped her in her aspirations in the medical field.

"It kind of opened doors for me," she said.

Another speaker at Wednesday's ceremony, University of Maryland Baltimore County graduate Brady Walker, encouraged the students to continue serving and not let work or family commitments sap their energy for helping others.

"Hold firm to being open to new things, your willingness to take risks, to being hungry for knowledge and experience, to being courageous and to remaining eager to see what the new day brings," he said.

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