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New class inducted at Aberdeen High Hall of Fame

On March 21, Aberdeen High School again hosted the Hall of Fame event that was initiated in 2006. These events honor past Aberdeen High graduates who are positive mentors to youth and demonstrate commitment to their community and exceptionality in their field.

After a breakfast for inductees, families and other invited guests, a warm welcome by Belawoe Akwakoku, and the national anthem sung by student Aria Real, the program followed.

On stage were paintings of the 2012 inductees: John Bender, John Landbeck and Maurice Wallace. They paintings were done by artist and teacher Rick Morris, who was introduced by student Kamini Mallick.

All of the inductees, seated by their displayed portraits, were introduced by students who demonstrate exceptionality in their school community at Aberdeen High. Not only does this event honor those who have graduated, but outstanding students who are role models in their own right.

Introduced by Mallick, Bender began the program with a very informative talk about his chosen field. He has made firefighting and fire prevention his life's work. He told of his membership in Aberdeen High School marching band which was a way to play in the Aberdeen Fire Department Band. He fondly recalled teacher and conductor of the band, "Chuck" Baker.

Bender went on to attend the University of Maryland and received his degree in fire protection engineering. He graduated from the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy. He has gone on to receive many awards, continues to do volunteer work with the Boy Scouts and many other youth groups. Of course, he continues to serve as an active firefighter with his beloved Aberdeen Fire Department.

Landbeck was introduced by Lauren Betz. As a graduate of AHS Class of 1959, Landbeck studied pre-law at Mt. Vernon School of Law/University of Baltimore, receiving a Juris Doctor degree in 1965.

As an agent for the FBI, he and his family resided in a number of states before coming back to Aberdeen where Landbeck could practice law. His community service includes acting as a child advocate for children who come from abusive family environments. He has also served his community as a board for the Inner-County Outreach for Harford County and as a member of numerous organizations in Aberdeen.

Nickcole Kanyuch introduced Wallace, a graduate of the Class of 1985. He went on to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis. With a degree in English literature and African American studies, he began a career in teaching at Yale University in English and African American and Afro-Studies.

In 2005, he received his doctorate in English literature from Duke University. He is an associate professor of English and African American studies at Duke. His most recent publication is "Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity." Wallace has returned to Aberdeen as a speaker at AHS graduations.

So concluded a wonderful and inspiring program for which Aberdeen High can be very proud.

Aberdeen High School has continued this significant tribute to its students, both past and present - "hail to Aberdeen High."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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