Hancock grads praised for perseverance

June 04, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HANCOCK -- They were the students with perseverance.

Hancock Middle-Senior High School Principal Eric J. Michael told a crowd during the school's graduation Thursday night that this year's 38 graduates were the first class to pass four assessment exams.

The students met the challenge even though there was concern statewide about whether Maryland students could pass all the tests, Michael said.

There were often traffic delays in the Hancock area because of crashes on nearby highways, but the students always found a way to get to school on time by using back roads, Michael told an auditorium full of spectators.


Michael said the small graduating class also has an impressive college attendance rate, with 76 percent of the students planning to go to two- or four-year institutions.

The students also had to deal with loss. Two girls from the school were killed in an arson at a house in February, Michael said, and students dealt with the death of about a dozen parents.

In August, the school was affected by a two-day standoff at America's Best Value motel in Hancock when a state police helicopter landed in the school's parking lot during the ordeal, Michael said.

"You have met our expectations. I hope you continue to pursue your dreams," Michael told the graduates.

Michael said the lessons the students learned at the school -- meeting deadlines, paying attention to detail and hard work -- will continue to serve them well throughout life.

"This is what we have taught you. Don't forget them," Michael said.

Perhaps one of the graduates might find a cure for cancer or achieve world peace, said Georgia C. Manning, class salutatorian.

"Because we can," Manning said.

Jill M. Helmstetter, valedictorian and senior class president, recalled how her teachers walked into class and said, "Yeah chemistry" or "Yeah test day."

"Today it fits. Yeah graduation," Helmstetter said.

Washington County Board of Education President Wayne D. Ridenour offered words of wisdom to the students and Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth M. Morgan also attended.

Before the ceremony, students talked anxiously about moving on.

"I can't wait to get out of here and start life -- the college life," said graduate Kenneth Hardman.

Hardman said he plans to attend Hagerstown Community College for a year, then transfer to Frostburg (Md.) State University. He said he plans to major in history and teach it. Hardman said he made the career decision after studying with a coach who also taught at the school.

"He just inspired me," Hardman said.

Graduate Zach Brown said he is planning to attend Hagerstown Community College for a semester, then transfer to Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Brown said if he maintains a certain grade-point average at HCC, he can get a discount at Shepherd.

Hancock Middle-Senior High School

38 graduates

Valedictorian: Jill M. Helmstetter

Salutatorian: Georgia C. Manning

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