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Manchester Valley graduate was a 'true servant leader’ for her peers, community

Manchester Valley senior Callie Houck is a true "servant leader," says Leslie Chesley, her Future Business Leaders of America adviser.
Manchester Valley senior Callie Houck is a true "servant leader," says Leslie Chesley, her Future Business Leaders of America adviser. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Callie Houck has dedicated her high school career at Manchester Valley to athletics, community service and outreach.

The Mavericks senior said her parents raised her to believe she could do anything she set her mind to, and she has thrived on self-motivation. Houck will graduate from Man Valley in a virtual ceremony on June 2 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Houck is an active member of multiple organizations at Man Valley, including the National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, Forces of Strength, chorus, and volleyball team. She was the second Maverick in school history to earn recognition as a semi-finalist for the 2020 National Honor Society Scholarship.

“I have a really good support system with a lot of the teachers at my school,” Houck said. “I’m definitely going to miss seeing them and being able to talk to them if I have a bad day or just going to their classroom and spilling my guts out something that’s bothering me.

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“I miss the routine of being able to go to school every day. … That’s definitely something I had to adjust to with COVID and everything.”

Graduating seniors could choose a time slot during June 2-5 to determine when they will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas to abide by Gov. Larry Hogan’s social distancing guidelines. Students are permitted four guests and one teacher for their selected date and time.

The pandemic altered a lot of activities that Houck, the treasurer for the class of 2020, and her fellow senior class executive officers had designed to celebrate this year’s seniors, such as the prom, the senior picnic and graduation.

“We didn’t know that March 13 would be our last day of high school,” Houck said. “I’m a very optimistic person, so I try to see the bright side of everything. I’ve talked to a ton of my friends who are so upset that prom got canceled and that graduation got canceled ... all these things.

“I just try to see the positive side and I think this is something we can look back on and tell our kids about. We’ll be the only class that has ever experienced something like this. People will remember us.”

Leslie Chesley, Houck’s Future Business Leaders of America adviser for the Man Valley chapter, said the organization hosts an annual Professional Wrestling Match as a fundraiser to support the school’s competitions. Houck took the lead and got the chapter members motivated to work.

She requested financial and in-kind support from outside businesses, got people signed up to work shifts required for the event, and stayed on site until the last bag of trash went out. As a result, Chesley created a position specifically for Houck — Officer of Business Communications — because her leadership was so evident.

Chesley said she saw Houck take more personal risks to challenge herself from a competitive business perspective this year.

“Callie is a true ‘servant leader,’ ” Chesley said. “She loves her school and her community and always focuses on being a positive communicator. She is a consummate salesperson — both literally for fundraisers, and figuratively for getting students to join activities and challenge themselves.”

Houck was also the co-president of the National Honor Society, a peer tutor and an active member in the school choir. She excelled on the volleyball court as a four-year starter and team captain and sang the national anthem at every home match, except for one.

She finished her senior season with 59 kills, 84 digs, 10 aces and five blocks.

Houck is an active member of Sources of Strength, an organization that was started at Man Valley this year to raise awareness about negative behaviors and increase a positive support system for those who might struggle with substance abuse, bullying, depression or suicidal thoughts.

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Houck’s involvement was inspired by her mother, who died in January 2018.

“I think what makes Callie stand out is that she is the total package,” said Kathi Keefauver, Houck’s NHS adviser. “She is an outstanding scholar, an athlete, and one of the most fun, energetic humans I have ever met. Her positive and caring spirit is contagious, and she brightens every room she walks into.”

Houck plans to attend Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, to study business administration and minor in social entrepreneurship, leaving a legacy of leadership and service at Man Valley.

“I’ve really pushed myself to be as involved with as many things as possible because once you leave high school — there are opportunities in college — but high school is a really great time to find out your interests,” Houck said. “You change so much in four years of high school and being involved in all these different things has given me the opportunity to meet new people and hear so many stories. … The people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard are really eye-opening.

“We’re more than just this small county from Maryland.”

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