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Waynesboro junior takes heckling with pride

May 30, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Walking through the halls of Waynesboro Area Senior High School, it is nothing for junior Derek Null to get a few heckles.

"Yo, Derek! You wearing a necklace?" one kid shouted.

"What, you win the idiot of month award?" a teacher joked as he gathered up props for a photo shoot.

Calmly, Derek takes it all in stride.

As president of his class, founder of the Indians and Maidens Club, member of the boys varsity basketball team and human fountain of school pride, everyone at the Second Street building knows his name.

Unlike students who are victimized by similar remarks, Derek said he knows the heckles come from that odd place among friends where respect is cloaked in jest.

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A veritable celebrity among his peers, he is asked what he hopes his legacy at the school will be.

Shrugging off the question with a side smile, he shook his head and waved at another student in the hall.

"They don't have to remember me," he said. "I just hope that they remember the things I've done."

When Derek started high school, the lack of pride at WASHS was palpable, he said.

Low turnout characterized events and "whatever, it's Waynesboro" comments filled the halls.

"I hate hearing that," he said.

Few students spoke of returning to the area after college. Most, he said, talked of going anywhere else.

Derek, however, is the opposite.

"I want to come back here to teach and coach," he said. "I love the family ideal of the community."

Wanting to rekindle long-lost pride in the blue and gold, only seen in 1970s yearbooks, Derek sought like-minded students who were willing to take action. He started a club.

Similar to the old spirit club at Waynesboro, Indians and Maidens Club, also known as spirit club, is everywhere at the school.

From the sidelines at field hockey games to the audience of the all-school production, from the helm of a benefit soccer game to the prom decorating committee, club members try to inject spirit into the school, he said.

Spirit is dressing up, going all out and being vocal to support the school, he said.

So Derek's goal was simple: support the students out there representing Waynesboro however he could.

If you ask Derek, there is a lot to be proud of at WASHS.

"We have this amazing new school, for starters," he said.

Great teachers, coaches and staff are also points of pride for Derek.

Motivating his peers to see what he sees -- ah, there's the rub, he said.

"It's hard because they might not think it is 'cool,'" he said. "But I am convinced if it is fun and their friends do it, too, they will join in."

With just one year left at WASHS, Derek has set a personal goal to have the club at every school event.

"I just hope that some of this will continue on after I'm gone," he said.

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