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Q&A: Student who ‘found a passion’ at Francis Scott Key High graduates with class, looks forward to Ivy League future

The class of 2021 graduated 217 seniors from Francis Scott Key High School at the Carroll County Agriculture Center’s Shipley Arena on Tuesday afternoon. Those seniors earned over 27,000 service-learning hours during their educational careers from sixth to 12th grade and 72 seniors maintained honor roll status each quarter of their high school career. Of the 217 seniors, 36, took five or more AP classes during their four years and13 took seven or more.

Principal Shannon Mobley said there were two graduates she wanted to highlight, Elizabeth Mahoney and Joseph Loy. Loy completed both the Project Lead the Way program at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. He completed six AP classes and ranked fifth in his class. He’s a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship of $40,000 toward his college tuition. Loy is an active member of the school community, and his peers regard him as a leader, Mobley said. He will attend the University of Colorado this fall where he will study engineering.

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Mahoney is the senior class president, 10th in her class and earned high marks in all honors and AP classes. She was also a dual enrollment student with Carroll Community College. She also participated in Project Lead the Way Engineering Program.

“Elizabeth has performed at the top of her class but realized in her senior year she was more drawn toward Biology and Ecology classes,” Mobley said in an email. “This year, in Honors Science Research she has found a passion in the research process and is excited to extend her knowledge at the college level.”

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The Times caught up with Mahoney to learn about her experience in high school and her plans for the future, including attending Brown University.

Q: How would you describe your high school experience?

Elizabeth Mahoney was one of the 217 seniors who graduated from Francis Scott Key High School on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Mahoney was one of the 217 seniors who graduated from Francis Scott Key High School on Tuesday. (Elizabeth Mahoney)

A: Looking back on these past four years and describing them in a couple of sentences would be impossible because of how much has changed over that time. The family that I have found at FSK made my high school experience better than I could have imagined when I first walked through the front doors. Despite the tests, homework, and long days I have had, knowing that my peers and teachers were there for me made my experience at FSK wonderful and I hope to never forget the lessons I have learned and people I have met.

Q: How would you describe your experience when schools were virtual/hybrid?

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A: It was hard to stay motivated after the shift to virtual learning because a lot of the responsibility for my education fell back onto me. However, it would be unfair for me to take credit for these past few semesters. The staff at FSK have sacrificed so much for their students and have made this less than pleasant situation into a learning environment and for that I am very grateful.

Q: What are your academic and/or career plans?

A: Next semester, I will be moving to Providence, Rhode Island, and will be attending Brown University. While I’m there I hope to narrow down my career goals because at the moment my only plan is to get my degree. I hope to study ecology and geoscience as well as play for the Brown women’s rugby team.

Q: How has high school prepared you for those plans?

A: Attending an Ivy League school is going to push me to achieve more in life and will create opportunities for my future, however without the support from my teachers and counselors to push myself in high school I could never have gotten to where I am today. Four years ago, I still wanted to be an engineer and I had no serious plans after high school; I hadn’t thought too much about my career options and I was kind of “going with the flow.” The advice and encouragement my teachers gave me created a future in which anything I set my mind to was possible. They made me feel like I could take that next step in life and I welcome the challenges that college will provide me.

Q: What is your favorite high school memory?

A: I am torn between homecoming week, which if you know FSK, you know how competitive we get at the hallway decorations and pep rally, and the many indoor track practices we had after it had snowed. The whole throwing team would get together to make snowmen and have snowball fights instead of practicing.

Q: What is something you learned in high school that you will carry with you in the next chapter of your life?

A: High school has taught me that despite the challenges life provides, treating each day as a gift and being grateful for time well spent can change your outlook on life. Living as a senior in the pandemic has been a struggle I never thought I would have to live through and for a while I was not living the life I wanted. However, I learned that I needed to be resilient and love the hand I was dealt in life, I needed to persevere and push through the hard times to get to the good. I am confident that my future can only bring me more challenges and, with my experiences at FSK, I know that I can endure and come out the other side with my head held high.

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