Delaney Debinski, of Sykesville, is one of 253 people in Century’s 2017 graduating class. (Emily Chappell / Carroll County Times)
For Delaney Debinski, four years at Century High School have been about finding herself. But perhaps more importantly, that four-year journey has helped her find a life of service and giving back.
"Overall, Century has just been so supportive in my growth," she said. "All the teachers and all the administration tend to be so supportive of growth or just trying new things."
Debinski, of Sykesville, was one of 253 in Century's Class of 2017 who graduated Monday night. She's been involved in drama productions since her sophomore year after trying cross country, track and band. She's also heavily involved in her church, where she works with special needs members in the congregation.
That passion to perform and that calling to help others who may have unique needs have led to a goal to eventually obtain a master's degree in drama therapy. Debinski will head to University of Maryland, Baltimore County, this fall, she said, and hopes to major in theater and psychology.
She's been helping people with special needs for a long time, Debinski said. It started with a childhood friend, she said, who is now in the Learning for Independence program at Carroll County Public Schools.
"She and I became really well connected," Debinski said of her friend. "I have a strong faith. I believe that God gave me … the opportunity to work with people of all abilities."
Debinski has worked in the Help for Uniquely Gifted Souls portion of LifePoint Church and has been a missionary twice in Missouri at Camp Barnabas, a youth camp for ages 7 to 17 with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities, where she worked one-on-one with campers.
"That really let me see that it's important to notice that everyone is unique and everyone is different and everyone has different needs," she said. "Some people have more needs or less needs but it really doesn't matter in the big picture, because we all just have to be loving and empathetic toward each other."
Most recently, Debinski's love of theater melded with her love of giving back when she directed "The Cat in the Hat" at Century — the program was put on by the students from the LFI program.
"I worked with them to produce the entire show," she added. "We had so much support from our school, and it really gave them an opportunity to shine."
Beth Flanagan, a special education teacher with whom Debinski worked closely over the past year, said Debinski really respects the students in the LFI program. She is a "true friend" to them, Flanagan added.
"She made each child feel so special … like they were a superstar," she said of Debinski's work with students for "The Cat in the Hat." "She is so caring and compassionate."
Debinski said her time in theater allowed her to really find her group and her drama family.
In addition to "The Cat in the Hat," Debinski was involved in seven other shows, whether as part of the stage crew, the ensemble or as a major character.
Lucas Hewitt, Century's drama teacher, said via email that Debinski was "remarkable," in her time as a part of the drama department.
"She has such a big heart," he said. "She accepts everyone for who they are and treats them with respect, kindness and a with a warm smile. Delaney is wonderfully optimistic and sees the best in everything and everyone."
Debinski is a very talented actress and gives 100 percent on stage, Hewitt said.
"Her leadership ability brings people closer together and her peers look up to her," he added. "I have never met anyone like Delaney and our drama club will sorely miss her. We are all better people because Delaney graced us with her kindness, her open heart and her wonderful personality."
Debinski said her success and growth at Century has been fostered through a lot of the teachers and staff at the school. As she tried different activities, she said she was able to be a part of many groups. Being in those groups has allowed her to see what everyone brings to the school as a whole, she said.
Teachers really encourage the students to get involved to find, and grow, their passions, she said. Two teachers helped Debinski expand her love of painting, allowing her to create murals in their classrooms, she added.