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Boys & Girls Club shapes Mitchell's life

March 15, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- Kirksten Mitchell says her life has been shaped by her involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington County.

It was where the 17-year-old first became serious about playing basketball. The North Hagerstown High guard recently scored the 1,000th point of her high school career.

She learned how to be successful in school and in life during the Boys & Girls Clubs camps and after-school program. She learned from older students -- who she calls her mentors -- who taught her to stay away from bad influences and take her schoolwork seriously.

"By what they gave to me, I wanted to give back," Kirksten said. "They told me what I would experience, and the right and wrong thing to do."

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Kirksten first began attending Boys & Girls Clubs camps and after-school care when she was 7 years old. For the past several years, she has volunteered there and now acts as a mentor to younger students.

"The club to me is not just a building on Pennsylvania Avenue in (Hagerstown)," she said. "It is a place that played a major role in my growing up."

Kirksten, a North High senior, recently was named Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington County for her devotion to family, morals, school and the club. She was honored in Annapolis last week as a finalist for the state Youth of the Year award.

Kirksten will receive a $1,000 college scholarship for winning the county award. Buck Browning, director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington County, said the prize was donated by the Aarsand Family Foundation.

He said there were four applicants for Washington County's Youth of the Year from six local clubs.

Kirksten, who has a 3.2 GPA, says she gets mostly A's and B's in school -- except in math.

She is a member of her school's student government association, honor club and Link Crew, where she mentors freshmen and helps them adjust to North High.

Kirksten said she'll most likely enroll at Towson (Md.) University after graduation, and said she'd like to continue playing basketball in college. She plans to pursue a major in sports management and eventually work as a recruiter for college basketball teams. She might even want to coach the sport someday.

"I just want to stay with basketball," Kirksten said. "If I can't be on the court, I'd like to be on the business side of it."

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