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North Carroll grad Jonathan Danko a 'leader behind the scenes'

HAMPSTEAD — Although you can tell from North Carroll High School senior Jonathan Danko's reserved yet confident demeanor that he wouldn't be one to call attention to himself, his teachers agree that he is a very accomplished young man.

"He's a leader behind the scenes," said North Carroll High School Principal Kimberly Dolch. "If you want something to get done, you get Danko involved."

Danko has been involved quite a bit, from three years of running cross country and participation in the National Honors Society to earning the rank of Eagle Scout. In the North Carroll Art Club, he impressed teacher Karen Trageser with his work on the Memory Project, an international program where students create portraits of orphans in places like Rwanda and Ghana.

"I would place Jon Danko in the top 5 percent of students I have taught in the last 15 years based on academic and personal responsibility," Trageser said. "He has a promising future and is the ideal North Carroll student."

As a member of the National Honors Society, Danko helped the school's Green Team with its recycling projects and helped lay the plans for a future project — planned for after he graduated — in which students will greet returning soldiers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

"I started doing [National Honors Society] and it was very enjoyable," Danko said. "There were a lot of people involved that I knew from classes, very smart and very helpful. I want to say it was rewarding."

In terms of athletics, Danko stuck with cross country, running for the junior varsity team from his sophomore year on.

"This senior year I was the JV captain and I ran a personal best of a 21-minute course, which is three miles, so 7-minute miles," Danko said.

In what he said was possibly his favorite memory from his time at North Carroll, Danko participated in an independent science research class, catching the fish stock needed for the class projects.

"It was not feasible to go out and say, 'Let's go to a fish hatchery and buy all these trout and grow them.' That was just absurd. So it was easier to get smaller, native critters," he said. "There is a stream by North Carroll Middle and the class was first mod, so I would have to wake up and go out there in waders. I would bait minnow traps and throw them in there and then use them to help stock the tanks."

If Danko is, as Trageser asserts, the ideal North Carroll High student, it may well be that the school and the Hampstead community has been an ideal fit for him, a comfortable place that fostered his personal growth.

"There's lots of nice people willing to help you," Danko said. "I would be walking down the hall and there are teachers saying, 'Hi, how are you doing?' Ms. Dolch would say, 'Hey Jon, how's that Eagle project coming?' Just making sure you're doing good."

Danko's Eagle Scout project, the building of a brick path at St. Bartholomew Parish in Manchester, took him more than two years, the culmination of a scouting career that he began while still in elementary school.

"I was 6 years old when I started, a wee little Tiger Cub," Danko said. "You know, blue shirt, orange cap. Started all the way down at the bottom."

Danko will be attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the fall and plans to study computer science and join the Army ROTC program, a choice he said was partly inspired by his scouting experience, as well as by his veteran father.

"My dad was in the Air National Guard and I was thinking about ways to pay for college and I thought I would do the ROTC," he said. "I'm looking at computer science and I was thinking their cyber defense, doing that or logistics. That's the fallback because somebody always has to move something."

While he looks forward to graduation, earning money and the freedom and adventure that college and military service can provide, Danko said he suspects that in the end, it will all be an exercise in coming to a greater appreciation of what he already has.

"[I want to] see what it's like out there and then realize this place is still better," he said. "It's a nice town, I like it."

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