Senior Send-Off

HCPSS wishes its seniors well as they move forward to the next phase of their life journey, wherever that may be. Here’s a roundup of graduating seniors sharing their favorite Howard County school memories, future plans and more…

For more senior profiles, go to @hocoschools and #HoCoSeniorSendOff on Instagram. Join in the HCPSS graduation conversation on Twitter at #HCPSSLevelUp.

Brandon Smolla

Brandon Smolla

Atholton High School

Favorite class(es) and why: Engineering and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). They teach problem solving on a whole new level and provide opportunities for hands-on practice and real-world application.

High school extracurricular activities: JROTC and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition team.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Find your passion and nurture it until it becomes your career.

Advice to HCPSS students: Relax. Life is always going to be hard, don't stress yourself out so much now. There's still a long way to go.

Future college/career plans: Spend a year traveling around the world on a family friend's boat, then attend college for computer engineering.

View Brandon Smolla's highlight on Instagram →

Christopher J. Russell

Christopher J. Russell

Cedar Lane School

Favorite class and why: Horticulture because it provides the opportunity to realize the results of my work, the product of care and nurturing. As a student with autism, my work life experiences through Cedar Lane are numerous.

Favorite HCPSS memories: The friends, teachers, administrators and staff members who have contributed positively to an enhanced quality of life for me.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: That every student is valuable, strives to achieve their greatest potential, and has contributions to make regardless of disabilities.

Future college/career plans: I plan to be a productive, valued and appreciated member of my community.

View Christopher Russell's highlight on Instagram →

Dora de Melo

Dora de Melo

Centennial High School

Favorite class(es) and why: Band, and Anatomy and Physiology. I loved being part of a musical group that allowed me to grow both musically and personally. I also liked learning how the body operates through the hands-on approach of dissections.

High school extracurricular activities: Centennial Marching Eagles, Student Government Association, Tri-M Music Honor Society, French Honor Society, Eagle Ambassadors.

Favorite HCPSS memory: Conducting my first football game as drum major. Leading the band for the first time in front of an audience was a rush I will never forget.

Future college/career plans: I plan on majoring in either biomedical or civil engineering. I want to either work as an engineer or pursue a career in environmental law.

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Harrison Montgomery

Harrison Montgomery

Glenelg High School

High school extracurricular activities: Rock climbing, ultimate frisbee and track.

Favorite HCPSS memories: Almost all homecoming dances were tons of fun, and my best memories come from those dances and playing in the Ultimate Frisbee Club.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Just because no one else does what you do doesn't make it wrong.

Advice to HCPSS students: Figure out how to balance your schedule, once you can do that, the rest is easy.

Future college/career plans: If all goes well I plan to either attend the University of Calgary or go through the WWOOF Latin America program to travel to different organic farms in Colombia.

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Emma Denlinger

Emma Denlinger

Hammond High School

Favorite class(es) and why: I love AP Biology because I enjoy learning about the processes that keep living organisms alive and how our bodies work. Through the G/T Intern/Mentor class, I have had the opportunity to intern at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the neurology department.

High school extracurricular activities: Global Equality Now club (president), cross country, taekwondo, Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra (violin), my church’s government, Johns Hopkins Bayview volunteer in the rehabilitation department, Elizabeth House soup kitchen volunteer, and epilepsy support group.

Advice to HCPSS students: I would suggest you seek an internship to start making connections and getting experiences now.

Future college/career plans: I will be attending University of Maryland and want to be a neurologist at a research hospital such as Johns Hopkins.

View Emma Denlinger's highlight on Instagram →

Anna Harrington

Anna Harrington

Homewood Center

Favorite class and why: Food and Nutrition is my favorite class because I love the teacher, and my classmates are great. I have learned so many skills in that class.

Favorite HCPSS memory: One of my favorite HCPSS memories is when a few girls and I got to visit the Ronald McDonald House, and paint posters for a kids’ race.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: No matter what you go through, you can achieve anything if you try.

Future college/career plans: I will attend Howard Community College in August. I want to become a music producer.

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Ogechi Elemuo

Ogechi Elemuo

Howard High School

Favorite class and why: Television because being an anchor for my school morning announcements was a great experience.

High school extracurricular activities: Indoor and outdoor track and field, Leading Each Other, Allied Soccer helper, UNICEF Club, Baking Club, Black Student Union Parliamentarian, JROTC company commander, JROTC unarmed exhibition commander.

Favorite HCPSS memory: Volunteering at the HCPSS 5K last year with the JROTC. I got to have fun with my friends while directing and helping the runners.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Get to know and connect with people.

Future college/career plans: Major in public health at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, go to medical school and eventually become a pediatric cardiologist.

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Joelle Bailey

Joelle Bailey

Long Reach High School

High school extracurricular activities: Indoor and outdoor track and field, National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society.

Favorite HCPSS memories: Running track for Long Reach. I have been able to run with some amazing people and make lifelong friends.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Not everyone is going to support your dreams, but with hard work, you can turn that dream into a reality all on your own. Be your own #1 fan.

Advice to HCPSS students: Enjoy every single moment you have here because there's no place like Howard County.

Future college/career plans: I will continue my education and track career at the United States Naval Academy. Go Navy, beat Army!

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Patrick Keefe

Patrick Keefe

Marriotts Ridge High School

Favorite class(es) and why: Weights and AP Comparative Government and Politics because they taught me valuable skills I can apply in everyday life.

High school extracurricular activities: Social Studies National Honor Society (president), Future Business Leaders of America, Key Club, Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Mustang Mentors, girls varsity basketball (manager) and Howard County Health Department (intern).

Most meaningful lesson learned in high school: Pain is temporary. GPA is forever. Advice to HCPSS students: Take classes that you know you will enjoy, whether AP or not.

Future college/career plans: I will be attending Boston College in the fall and plan on majoring in marketing with a minor in political science.

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Han S. Chun

Han S. Chun

Mt. Hebron High School/Applications and Research Laboratory

Favorite class and why: ARL Architectural Design Academy as that is the field I want to pursue. Also, ARL gives you hands-on experiences and connections to internships you won't be able to receive anywhere else.

High school extracurricular activities: Wrestling, Future Business Leaders of America, FIRST Robotics, and track and field.

Favorite HCPSS memory: Developing my first roll of film in the school’s darkroom.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Getting sufficient amount of sleep is important.

Future college/career plans: Attending Rhode Island School of Design to major in architectural design. I hope to one day start my own architecture firm and be the number one architect in the world.

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Kayla Burch-Strong

Kayla Burch-Strong

Oakland Mills High School

Favorite class(es) and why: My favorite classes are AP Chemistry, for the advanced labs we do, and Dance, because I enjoy performing and learning new choreography.

High school extracurricular activities: Delta Scholars, National Honor Society, Black Student Union, National Art Honor Society, Student Government Association and softball.

Favorite HCPSS memories: I enjoy going to the variety of sports games and performances.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Life is too short to be worrying about your failures, either learn from them or forget them and move on.

Future college/career plans: Major in business and minor in fashion and philosophy.

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Sarene Owusu

Sarene Owusu

Reservoir High School

High school extracurricular activities: Speech and Debate, Black/African Leadership Union, French National Honor Society, Model United Nations, DECA and Delta Scholars.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: Life is full of twist and turns, and you never know what life has planned for you. I had great achievements and disappointing failures that shaped me into the young woman I am today. If I would've stayed naive, I would've never grown wiser.

Advice to HCPSS students: Study hard, appreciate your janitors and enjoy your snow days.

Future college/career plans: I want to transfer from Howard Community College to University of Maryland, and hopefully get into an Ivy League graduate school. I am hoping to intern for NASA this summer.

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Gokul Kannan

Gokul Kannan

River Hill High School

Favorite class and why: G/T Intern/Mentor because it's so open-ended.

High school extracurricular activities: Three years of research at Johns Hopkins University (two published papers, three national science fair awards, two international poster prizes, one patent pending), The Youth Project USA (president/CEO).

Favorite HCPSS memory: My first day of school at Clarksville Middle School in 7th grade. I had just moved from Michigan, but it was easy to meet new people because everyone was so nice.

Future college/career plans: I'll be studying chemical engineering, and then most likely pursuing a PhD or attending medical school afterward. I'll most likely work in translational medicine and research.

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Misbah Farooqi

Misbah Farooqi

Wilde Lake High School

Favorite class(es) and why: AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP World History inspired me to pursue political science and international relations in the future.

High school extracurricular activities: Student Government Association (president), school newspaper (editor-in- chief), feminism club (founder), National Honor Society, Lettermen, Howard County Human Rights Commission and Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society.

Most meaningful life lesson learned in high school: You are never too young to make an impact on your community.

Future college/career plans: I plan on studying political science and international relations in college. I hope to become a human rights lawyer one day, and run for public office.

View Misbah Farooqi's highlight on Instagram →