Rising Stars

There are several team captains, club presidents and academic all-stars. There’s a chemistry tutor. A chef. A violinist. A dairy princess. A national anthem singer. A cheerleader. A counselor. A go-kart racer.

All 11 of these graduating seniors have already made an impact on their schools and communities. Together, they represent the accomplishment, potential and excellence of the class of 2011.

They were selected as Rising Stars by the Centre Daily Times and are featured in a 24-page special section in today’s edition. In that section, we also salute the graduates of each Centre County high school.

Rising Stars is a new program for the Centre Daily Times, and we couldn’t have completed it without help from the entire community.

About a dozen teachers, guidance counselors and administrators provided feedback when the idea was in its infancy. They also spread the word and encouraged students to apply. Their help was invaluable.

In April, four community judges pored over applications, read essays and selected finalists from a list of very impressive students. It wasn’t an easy job.

The judges were: Chris Arbutina, college relations coordinator for the Penn State Schreyer Honors College; Todd Erdley, president and CEO of engineering and software company Videon Central; Jean Gerber, vice president of operations for the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County; and Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford.

Thanks also should go to the coaches, teachers, ministers and community leaders who wrote references for the students. Ditto for parents and guardians, who deserve a share of the credit for all of the successes.

And thanks, lastly, to the students of Centre County: for all of their accomplishments, many of which couldn’t fit in a phone book, let alone a newspaper. They have enriched the entire community.

We’re looking forward to seeing what they do next.

Read more: Meet the Rising Stars.


Rising Star: Sarah Elizabeth Abbott




PENN TOWNSHIP — Dressed in jeans and a Geneva College T-shirt, Sarah Abbott walked around the lab, fielding questions on stoichiometry — a branch of chemistry which requires students to know things like KClO3 is short for potassium chlorate.

“Sarah, can we get your officialness?” asked one of the 10 students attending the tutoring session, all with copies of the periodic table of the elements on their desk.

Requests for help continued for the next 30 minutes.

Sometimes Abbott, 18, reminded students of rules for balancing equations.

“That means it’s the diatomic ion, which means it has to be accompanied by a partner,” she said.

Other times she gave tips.

“You start with your metals, so you do MgCL 2,” Abbott said referring to magnesium chloride.

Occasionally, she pressed them for more info.

“Do you understand why?” she asked.

Her fellow students appreciated the help.

“If I would have known that a test ago, I would’ve been grand,” said one student, who was mixed up over whether he should add or multiply parts in the equation.

The teacher described Abbott as having a quiet confidence.

Read more: Sarah Elizabeth Abbott.



SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2011


Rising Star: Juliet “Jill” Cawthern


STATE COLLEGE — One room has two computers, phones and binders full of resources. Next door, there’s a TV and couch where Juliet Cawthern would relax and wait.

“This is where everything happens,” Cawthern said of the two rooms inside the Community Help Centre. “Nothing really too fancy.”

The everything that happens includes calls such as one from an abused woman who needs to know how to obtain a restraining order, an alcoholic looking for a support group, or a regular who just needs to talk.

“Anything someone calls in with, we find a way to help them with it,” Cawthern said.

She started volunteering at the Community Help Centre in 10th grade, and she’s logged more than 485 hours, including overnight shifts on the hotline as a crisis intervention counselor.

“Community service is the latest ‘in’ thing for students, but Jill does not do hers for the recognition,” said Delta program guidance counselor Cheryl Price. “This work is the manifestation of her kind, caring heart, genuinely selfless attitude, and her desire to help people.”

Read more: Juliet “Jill” Cawthern.



SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2011


Rising Star: Brooke Renee Fisher


BOGGS TOWNSHIP — It was a Friday night baseball game, and Brooke Fisher was slated to sing the national anthem. Just before show time, one of the other ballplayers said he wanted to sing, too.

So Fisher offered to shared the mic. And together they led the audience through: “Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light / what so proudly we hailed as the twilight’s last gleaming?”

That generosity is typical of Fisher, who was born with Down syndrome, but hasn’t let that stop her from seeking out a variety of activities.

“Because of her leadership, many other special needs students have gotten involved in these types of activities, too,” said Rose Hoover, a friend of Fisher’s family who works in the Bald Eagle Area School District.

Read more: Brooke Renee Fisher.



SUNDAY, June 17, 2011


Rising Star: Kendra Nicole Park


PLEASANT GAP — It was a summer wedding, outdoors, the first Saturday in June, and the first one that Kendra Nicole Park and her Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology classmates had ever catered.

The menu included infused smoked salmon mousse, champagne melon soup, grilled blue marlin with roasted corn tomatillo and mango salsa.

And the rain began pouring down just as the father started walking the bride down the aisle. Friends and families picked up their chairs and raced over to Plan B, a catering tent that also included a stage.

But some confusion along the way put 225 guests where the chefs were supposed to prepare food.

“It was a real educational experience,” said chef and instructor Tim Beckenbaugh, “because everything that could go wrong, went wrong.”

Read more: Kendra Nicole Park.



SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2011


Rising Star: Krystal Wasson


HARRIS TOWNSHIP — Krystal Wasson awoke around 4 a.m. to her mother crying. Her family’s 20-foot-wide, 80-foot-tall silo had collapsed onto their barn. Fifteen cows, about half the herd, were dead. The strong wind — which Wasson would later describe simply as “horrible” — was blowing nails, wood and other debris through the air.

And Wasson, a fifth-generation dairy farmer who two weeks earlier had been crowned Pennsylvania’s Dairy Princess, was facing the very real possibility that her family would stop running a dairy farm.

“We were in a lot of shock,” Wasson, 18, said of the Oct. 7, 2009, accident.

Wasson’s mother, Candace, told her daughters they should stay inside. Not because there was any danger outside, but because she didn’t want them to see the destruction. But the daughters insisted.

They spent the next few hours helping load the surviving cows into a trailer to go to another farm. Then she and her two younger sisters went to school, arriving in time for homeroom — although not without some resistance.

“I forced them,” Candace Wasson said.

Read more: Kystal Wasson.

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