by Lisa Tome
Thomas Morris and Stephen McKinney have been best friends since they were second graders at Calvert Elementary.
The pair, Morris, Rising Sun High's Valedictorian, and McKinney, the Salutatorian, have apparently been a good influence on one another.
Morris, who finished with a weighted grade point average of 5.0, attributes his success to his "supportive" parents Matthew Morris, Sr. and Pamela, hard work, and good teachers. He is headed to University of Maryland to study computer science.
McKinney, son of Stephen and Wanda, will also study computer science with a specialty of cyber security at University of Maryland. He will also be part of the Air Force ROTC program in College Park.
Both also played lacrosse. McKinney was a wrestler and is also an Eagle Scout. Moore is a volunteer with Special Olympics and at the Fair Hill Nature Center.
When asked their favorite part of the school, the pair responded simultaneously.
They both enjoyed computer science class with teacher Richard Braco. "They work quietly. They always get their work done and they play later. The other guys (classmates) play first, then play later," said Braco.
Rising Sun guidance counselor Doug Wiegand said the 289 members of the Class of 2018 are motivated and have good character. "They have a lot of different interests and goals," said Wiegand.
The class has students headed for the military - one to the National Guard, two to the Marine Corps, and one to the Navy. They also have graduates who plan to study nursing, engineering, and a vast array of other careers.
"I always miss them and am always proud of them," said Principal Charles Helm, regarding the Class of 2018.
Carlie Reed and Madison Moore have been best friends since they were fifth graders at Cecilton Elementary School.
"She's my best friend, my person," said Reed. Moore said the pair has vacationed together and are each other's constant source of support.
They were back at their old stomping grounds recently when Bo Manor members of the Class of 2018 who attended Cecilton, were at the school for the annual Senior Walk. The seniors were greeted by the entire Cecilton Elementary population as they walked through the halls before participating in a special ceremony in the school's gym. They got to see former teachers and see photos of themselves as elementary students.
The 257 members of the North East High School Class of 2018 received $6.8 million in scholarship and award offers.
"They're a big class with a lot of different interests. We have a number going to four year colleges and a number going to Cecil. We have 90 graduates at School of Tech. It's an eclectic group," said senior counselor Robert Miller.
Valedictorian honors were shared by Courtney Sizemore and Nathan Bleecher. Cara McCann was the Salutatorian. "They're a strong group academically and are pretty competitive," said Miller. Bleecher is headed to University of Maryland and eventually, med school.
A lot of the students are headed to in-state schools. "And a good number are going to Cecil for financial purposes. Eleven are going into the military," Miller said. "They are doing a wide variety of things and have unique challenges."
School of Technology
It was a night to remember for the nearly 300 members of the Class of 2018 from the Cecil County School of Technology. The students graduated twice in a two-to-three day span, first from School of Tech on June 5 and then from their home schools a few days later. This was the first time that the tech students didn't graduate in January.
Student Tazio Sappia, who studied Automotive Technology at CCST, said that graduating twice made for a busy week. "I had to get a haircut, beard trim, and wash the truck. I wish I graduated in different weeks," said Sappia.
Valedictorian Jason Woods finished as Perryville High's top Panther with a weighted 4.98 grade point average. Woods is headed to the University of Maryland to study aerospace engineering on a Banneker/Key scholarship.
Ilario Ercole is the Salutatorian with a 4.72 grade point average. Ercole is staying closer to his home. He will attend Harford Community College and will play soccer for the Owls. He will also study business or engineering.
Olayide Ashiru has wanted to attend Johns Hopkins University since she was in seventh grade. Now, the Elkton High School top student has met her goal. She'll study material science and engineering at the university. "I'm really excited. I always wanted to go to Hopkins. I excelled in science and math," said Ashiru, who finished with a 4.92 grade point average.
Allison Rogers, a three sport athlete, was named Salutatorian with a 4.83 grade point average. Rogers is headed to Virginia Tech to study architecture. "I've been pretty involved here at school and made a lot of friends here. I got a good education. It was a good experience," said Rogers.
The 234 class members also earned Elkton High's greatest ever amount in scholarships and awards - more than $4 million - in the school's history. "We had a lot more who participated in scholarship (applications) this year. We're usually begging them to take them," said senior counselor Linda Lewis. "This is a diverse group with very bright kids."
A dozen Elkton students have signed on for military or reserve duty. Student Ben Dalyrimple ended his high school career with 660 community service hours. "It's a great group of kids. I've enjoyed all of them. They are a compassionate group of good kids," added Lewis.