James Rada, Jr.
Catoctin High School celebrated its distinguished graduates, who are making their dreams come true, during the 3rd Annual Distinguished Graduates ceremony on November 21, 2017.
The Distinguished Graduate Organization was created in 2015 to recognize Catoctin High graduates who have made a difference in their post-high school careers. Graduates are recognized in five different categories: Academics, Arts and Humanities, Athletics, Business, and Service (community, military, or public). Former staff members are also recognized for the impact they had on the school community. Each honoree was given an engraved award, a Catoctin High School print, and a Catoctin High blanket.
Catoctin Principal Bernie Quesada told the senior and freshmen classes, who filled the auditorium for the ceremony, that he hoped they would be inspired by what fellow Catoctin graduates had accomplished and that they would “understand the legacy” of Catoctin High School.
Rebecca Yates Shorb
Rebecca Yates Shorb worked as an art teacher at Catoctin from 1970 to 1994. She was recognized as a former staff member. She told the students that up until this point in their lives, they have been on a journey to discover what their gifts are.
“If you pay attention, you’ll know what direction life wants to take you in,” she stated.
She urged the students to be open to changes, but to always seek to live the life of their dreams.
Former Catoctin coach and athletic director, Paul Nolan was also recognized as a former staff member. He talked about the goals he set in his life and working to achieve them. He encouraged the students to set goals for themselves and to pursue making those goals become realities.
“Now is the time to decide what you want to do, where you want to go,” Nolan told students.
Meaghan (Eyler) Delawter
Meaghan (Eyler) Delawter received the academic award. A lawyer who has recently started her own successful legal practice, Delawter told the students a story of when she was at the lowest point of her life, and how it only turned around when she decided to “chase the lion.”
Chasing the lion is a concept presented in a book she read about facing your fears, chasing them down, and conquering them. The book also made her realize that if trying to achieve her dream didn’t scare her, then it wasn’t a big enough dream.
She told the students that they would fail at some point in their lives, but they needed to turn those failures and the fears of failing into motivators to achieve.
“If I had let my fears scare me, I’m not sure where I’d actually be,” Delawter advised students.
Jonathon West received the athletics award. A former Frederick County player of the year, and currently an estimating analyst for NVR, he praised the staff and offerings at Catoctin High for giving him the opportunity to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. It then became his job to make the most of those opportunities.
“Opportunities are given, but success is earned,” voiced West.
Local dentist Dr. Richard Love received the business award. He spoke to the students about having strong core values, embracing teamwork, and doing the right thing. He also urged that they should put themselves on the path of constant and never-ending improvement.
Although he also enjoyed playing sports in high school and college, he realized that he would never be a stand-out star. By the same token, he also saw that he had a part to play on the team, and if he did his best in his role, he would help the team.
Love has applied this idea of being part of team and a team leader to growing and managing his business.
Navy Lt. Cdr. Ryan Rippeon received the military service award. He also spoke of turning life’s failures into learning experiences. Getting his first failing grade at the Naval Academy allowed him to switch majors to something he loves and excels in. Failing his first interview for a position with the White House Communications Agency enabled him to hone his skills and advance in rank, so that the position he eventually took in the agency was even better than the original position for which he had applied.
“You’re going to fail,” he leveled with the students. “Let yourself learn from it, because great things can come of it.”
Scott Hahn received the public service award. He emphasized to the students to find something they could believe in, something that brings joy to their lives. He found his in helping feed the hungry as the food packaging director for Feed the Hunger. The Evangelical organization has helped feed millions of people in the United States and in some of the poorest places in the world.
He also cautioned the students against gauging their success by their material wealth. “Life will leave you empty if your main goal is to accumulate things.”
Drummer Michael Gray received the arts and humanities awards. He told the students his story of how he pursued his dream of making a career in the music business. He and his wife left their Baltimore home in 2002 to move to Nashville, Tennessee. With no promise of work, he began to build a name for himself in the music business. His persistence paid off, and he became the drummer in a new band, being formed by then-unknown country artist Lee Brice. Brice and his band have since produced a number of top-10 hits.
Gray urged the students to go after their dreams and not let anyone stop them.
Catoctin Principal Bernie Quesada concluded the ceremony, declaring, “All of us have a place in the history and future of Catoctin High School.”
Pictured from left are Rebecca Yates Shorb, Paul Nolan, Meaghan Delawter, Jonathan West, Richard Love, Ryan Rippeon, Scott Hahn, and Michael Gray.