Wednesday, 04 June 2014 14:50




Myrick overcomes adversity to shine

by Ben Boehl

Life outside of high school has not been easy for Patapsco High School graduating senior Mercedes Myrick, but she has tried to make the best of her life in school.
    At the end of her sophomore year, she sustained a knee injury when she fell and ruptured multiple knee ligaments, her medial meniscus and fulcrum and had a dislocated kneecap and cartilage damage.
    Myrick was a track athlete whose competitive career appeared to be over; she said doctors had to remove her hamstring in place of her anterior collateral ligament (ACL).
    Her recovery took over two years, but she rehabilitated her knee and came back to run indoor track her senior year.
 “My surgeon said that most likely that my running was over, but I guess I proved him wrong,” Myrick said.
    “I had to learn how to walk again.”
    Myrick credited the experience of the injury with helping her focus on academics.
    She had to deal with another round of adversity arising from family issues that eventually forced her to move out of her home and in with a friend.
    “I’ve been living with my friend since October,” Myrick said.
    Despite all of these setbacks, Myrick has kept a full slate of activities at school. Her plate included being vice president of her senior class, vice president of the National Honor Society, public relations coordinator for the Student Government Association and the battalion commander for the Patapsco JROTC Program.
    “Before I entered high school, my résumé was not that impressive, but everything changed with the environment I was in,” Myrick explained.
    “I entered high school with goals and aspirations. I wanted to be the best person I could be.”
    Myrick said she has used the activities at Patapsco to keep her mind off the adversity she has faced in other areas of her life.
    “I had to be involved in activities and have a positive mind,” Myrick explained.
    Myrick also gives credit to Patapsco for being a close-knit school community.
    She said she was able to gain strength from her teachers and made a special point of mentioning teacher Deborah Servetnick for being there for her. Myrick noted that Servetnick was going through trouble of her own, as she was battling cancer.
    According to Myrick, Servetnick’s story helped inspire her.
    “There is such a strong support group at Patapsco. There is no other school like our staff and administration. They are willing to help you and they are just like family,” Myrick said.         “I know it sounds crazy, but everyone is willing to help you. I don’t think I’ve had a bad teacher.”
    Myrick plans to attend Wesley College in the fall and to join the Air National Guard.
    “I want to go to school in international business, and I want to work up to become a translator,” she said.
    She has received awards and honors that include being profiled by the county school system for its Graduating Seniors Profile Representative, the 2014 Coaches Award, Comcast Leaders and Achieves Scholarship, CTE Award of Excellence Daughters of the American Revolution Award, Fourth Brigade US Army Cadet Command Certificate of Participation & Fourth Brigade U.S. Army Cadet Command Certificate of Achievement, Music Department Award Recipient  for 2012, 2013 and 2014, Most Committed Award, the Rachel Baron Pin Award, Presidential Fitness Award, PTSA Certificate of Service in 2012 and 2014.   
    As Myrick ends her high school career, she advises students at the school to remain involved.
    “No one is going to give you something. You have to go out and get it,” Myrick said.




Skalski ready for med school journey

by Bill Gates

Kathryn “Kat” Skalski graduated from Dundalk High earlier this week, but she’s not finished with all this book-learning. Far from it.
    Skalski has a goal. It is far in the future, and it will take a long time to get there, but she is packed and ready for the journey.
    It starts this fall at the University of Maryland, where Kat will take her first steps towards becoming a doctor. Specifically, an OB-GYN.
    That’s four years of pre-med. Four more years in medical school. Then two years of working a residency.
    (Followed by, depending on the amount and type of financial aid she receives, many, many years of paying off her student loans.)
    “I’m just taking it day-by-day, one step at a time,” Skalski said. “As it goes on, it will get more interesting, more in-depth, and I’ll learn more.”
    Skalski, who has grown up during a period of national economic troubles, wants to be a doctor so she can help pregnant women and for the stability.
    “Honestly, there will always be jobs in health care,” she said. “It will have security and be wellpaying.”
    Kat has displayed the academic chops to survive the 10-year grind to becoming a doctor.
    She graduates from Dundalk with a 4.0 GPA  (weighted quality point average of 4.974) while taking all honors classes and Advanced Placement courses in English (language and literature), psychology, world history  and calculus.
    At Sollers Point Tech, Skalski took classes in Allied Health, Pharmacy, Anatomy and Physiology.
    In the Allied Health Nursing Assistant Training program, Kat earned an achievement award for completing 160 clock hours and 40 hours volunteering at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
    Overall, she is ranked fourth (out of 287) in the Dundalk High Class of 2014 by the weighted quality point average.
    Between the awards ceremonies for Dundalk High and Sollers Point Tech, Skalski collected 10 scholarships for a total of over $20,000 — much of it renewable from year to year.
    She was also named the Elk’s Lodge Female Student of the Year ($2,000 scholarship), received $1,500 from the Baltimore County Retired School Personnel Association, was the Ann Merritt Dundalk Female Student-Athlete of the Year and was one of 10 Dundalk High students to receive presidential and gubernatorial Volunteer Service awards.
    Among the groups for which Skalski volunteered service time were the St. Rita’s Soup Kitchen, the Dundalk Renaissance Corp., Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, the Sacred Heart of Mary youth group and Vacation Bible School, the Dundalk High Athletic Boosters and school-sponsored blood and clothing drives.
    Over her time at Dundalk, Kat also collected eight Maryland Scholar-Athlete Minds in Motion awards.
    It hardly needs mentioning that she was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. And president of the Green School Club during her junior and senior years.
    When splitting time between Dundalk High and Sollers Point Tech left her without any room on her class schedule for a needed Spanish I credit, Skalski picked up the class in night school.
    This was all the while also being a four-year varsity starter in soccer and softball.
    After all of this, med school for Kat may seem like Club Med.
    As an athlete, Kat was the soccer team captain during her sophomore, junior and senior years and the softball team captain as a junior and senior.
    “As a coach, I look for two types of leaders when choosing captains for the team: in the classroom and on the field,” Dundalk softball coach Rick Armijo said. “For two years, Kat was an unanimous choice.
    “Kat’s work ethic, committment and drive have landed her in an elite group. She’s one of the most well-rounded student-athletes I’ve coached in the 17 years and 50 seasons of my Baltimore County coaching career.”
    Skalski was in a unique situation during her senior year. She was one of only two seniors on the soccer team (and the only senior starter) and the only senior on the softball team.
    It made for quick Senior Game ceremonies, for one thing. And it put the leadership burden directly on her shoulders.
    “I definitely felt the responsibility to lead the teams,” Skalski said. “But I didn’t feel any pressure; I embraced it.”
    And a young Owl softball team that many people expected to struggle instead won 13 games with Kat as the No. 1 pitcher.
    “I wasn’t really looking forward to the softball season,” Skalski said. “School had been tough this year, and I was getting ready for all my A.P. tests and finals.
    “Then we started playing, and I saw our potential and got excited. I’m sorry I have to leave this group, but at least I had this season.”
    As for the paucity of other seniors on the soccer and softball teams, Kat said many of her fellow students were concentrating on their studies and other activities.
    (Or playing volleyball, which had six seniors on the roster.)
    Kat will not play varsity sports at the University of Maryland, but may look into club sports after she gets a feel for her college workload.
    “Kat was a rare breed we haven’t seen here in a long time,” Armijo said. “Her family support was amazing, but her individual effort was unmatched.
    “The University of Maryland is getting a great one.”




Baumgart’s hard work, determination yield success

by Nicole Rodman

Fight to the finish. That is what Kelsey Baumgart does.
    If the Sparrows Point High School graduate is going to do something, she gives it her all, every time.
    It is a lesson instilled in her from an early age by her parents, Kirk and Lori Baumgart.
    “From them, I have learned to be a hard worker and to give 100 percent in everything I do,” Baumgart told The Eagle.
    “Being the owners of Ductwork, Inc., a sheetmetal shop in Edgemere, they [have been] very successful and have taught me to do the same.”
    As Baumgart’s lengthy list of achievements attests, it is a lesson that she has clearly taken to heart.
    In the classroom, Baumgart has excelled in the school’s SPECIES (Sparrows Point Educational Center in Environmental Studies) magnet program.
     A member of the National Honor Society for the last three years, Baumgart has earned a spot on the school’s honor roll every quarter of her high school career.
    Upon her graduation on Tuesday, she ranked fourth in her class.
    Baumgart has had just as much success on the athletic field as in the classroom.
    During her high school career, she played field hockey and basketball for four years and softball for two years and ran track for one year.
    Baumgart’s road to athletic achievement did not come easily.
    During her very first field hockey game as a freshman, she collapsed her lung.
    “I was out of school for some time trying to recover and missed the rest of the season,” she recalled.
    Despite the injury, Baumgart battled back and got back onto the field.
    In addition to being a nominee for the Wendy’s High School Heisman athletic award, Baumgart was Sparrows Point’s female winner of a McCormick Unsung Hero Award. (Sparrows Point football player Christopher Byrd Jr. also received the award).
    As the McCormick website explains, the award “recognizes unselfish team play and honors those who contribute substantially to the success of their teams without receiving acclaim.”
    At Sparrows Point, Baumgart was also honored with sportsmanship awards for varsity field hockey and varsity basketball.
    Not content to rest on her academic or athletic laurels, Baumgart is also an accomplished musician.
    A member of the Tri-M music honor society, Baumgart played xylophone in the Sparrows Point marching band for two years.
    Baumgart has been just as active in the community as she has been at school.
    In addition to her job at Ikaros Greek restaurant in Baltimore, she volunteers for the Edgemere-Sparrows Point Recreation Council, where she first got her start playing sports.
    Over the years, she has volunteered as a camp leader at the council’s summer playground program, a tour guide at the Fort Howard Haunted Dungeons and has served food at the council’s Edgestock music festival.
    Baumgart has also given back to the community through her work with Rebuilding Baltimore.
    During her service with the program, Baumgart helped clean Merritt Park and plant gardens in St. Helena.
    In addition, she has participated in several service-based mission trips with First Baptist Church of Dundalk.
    While Baumgart is now celebrating her many awards and achievements,  the road to success has not been an easy one for her or her family.
    In addition to battling a collapsed lung during her freshman year, Baumgart mourned the death of her grandmother from cancer in March 2013.
    “Two weeks later we found that my mother also had breast cancer,” she explained.
    “After having a double mastectomy, she is getting her strength back and is a survivor.”
    For Baumgart, the struggle only served to strengthen her resolve.
    As she explained, “It was a tough year, but we persevered through it, remembering ‘this too shall pass,’ a saying that my grandparents and parents engrained into my thoughts.”
    Her perseverance has served her well.
    As her senior year has wound to a close, Baumgart has been recognized with a number of awards, including a medal for physical education, Minds in Motion and Scholar-Athlete awards, a certificate of merit for social studies, a certificate of service for health, the President’s Award for Educational Achievement and the Merit Scholastic Award.
    Now a high school graduate, Baumgart has been offered nearly $170,000 in college scholarship funds.
    In the fall, she will attend Salisbury University, where she plans to major in nursing and minor in exercise science.
    “I would like to pursue a career as a nurse in a trauma or oncology unit,” she noted.
    Even as she looks to the future, Baumgart cannot help but look back at the school and people who have helped shape her over the last four years.
    “I will miss all of the bonds I have created during high school with teachers, teammates, coaches and friends,” she explained.             Though she will miss her high school days, Baumgart is excited to see what the future has in store.
    As she exclaimed, “While I will miss Sparrows Point, I am ready to start the next chapter in my life at Salisbury!”





Sennett blossoms as collegian

by John G. Bailey

The college years, as a rite of passage, should be about more than just acquiring a diploma. Going to college should be transformative.
    Ashlyn Sennett took full advantage of her years at CCBC Dundalk to grow as a person.
    Shy and quiet when she started her studies in 2011, Sennett graduated from CCBC on May 31 a confident and self-assured young woman eager to tackle the challenges of the future.
    With a degree in general studies from CCBC, Sennett will pursue a degree in human services at the University of Baltimore in the fall.
    “Going to CCBC got me out of my shell,” Sennett said. “It’s a small campus; everybody knew each other, and that made it easier for me to get involved.”
    An Advanced Placement student and honors student at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, where she graduated in 2011, she joined the honors program at CCBC Dundalk  before fall classes started that year.
    Sennett subsequently served as secretary, historian, vice president and president of the honors program at CCBC.
    Among her accomplishments in the program was her participation in two fundraisers that raised over $1,500 for honors scholarships. 
    Sennett also became active in the Student Life activities at the school. She is especially proud of her role in sensitizing students to challenenges faced by blind and other handicapped people during Disablity Awareness Day. The group she worked with earned the Best Project Award for its efforts.
    Sennett took full advantage of the academic opportunities at CCBC to branch out.
    She and fellow students interviewed former Bethlehem Steel workers for a project in an honors communication class. “They called me the ‘Defender of Dundalk’ [in the class] because I wouldn’t let anyone talk bad about the place,” Sennett said.
    She later presented the project at a Maryland Collegiate Honors Council Convention, which required public speaking.
    “I gave speeches on more than one occasion,  but after the first one, I was no longer nervous speaking in front of people,” Sennett said.
    Behind every great student are good teachers. Sennett calls CCBC honors English teacher Allen Stockett  “an inspiration.”
    The teacher she credits for helping to formulate her future plans is Theodore McCadden, who teaches psychology and is head of the chemical dependency program at CCBC.
    “I already knew I wanted to have a career in counseling and social work, but his teaching encouraged me in that direction,” Sennett said.
    Sennett excelled academically at CCBC. In the spring of 2012, she was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society. A grade point average of over 3.5  also earned her a $2,500 scholarship for her studies at UB.
    CCBC Dundalk wasn’t  Sennett’s first choice. Though she was accepted at Towson University and Goucher College, affordability and convenience made CCBC a wiser choice.
    She didn’t regret it. “People say [negative] things about community colleges, but I wouldn’t have changed my decision for anything,” she said.
    “Unlike universities and colleges, [which are] not preparing [students] for the real world, I was already living it [at CCBC].”
    Sennett especially valued the community atmosphere among students and faculty at CCBC. “We were all familiar with one another. That’s what makes a college a college in my eyes.”