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Cockeysville: Brianna Simkins leaves long shadow in Girl Scouts, school career

As the school year draws to a close, we have many students who have achieved outstanding recognition and awards within our area.

One of those is local Girl Scout Brianna Simkins.

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Recently, the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland celebrated its 50th anniversary and honored the young women who had been selected to "shadow" local executives and politicians. Being selected as a "shadow girl" is quite an honor and this year, six girls were selected.

Of those six, Brianna Simkins was selected to shadow Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Brianna is in her senior year at the Institute of Notre Dame, and in the past several weeks alone, she has been selected by Girl Scouts to: represent them at the town hall meeting led by the Secretary of Interior Richard Salazar, as well being part of a group attending a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) briefing at the White House.

All of this was in addition to shadowing Rawlings-Blake.

She also gave the closing remarks for a speech by Sen. Barbara Mikulski at the Living the Legacy event held at Girl Scouts of Central Maryland gathering last fall.

At her school, Brianna has been on the varsity crew team for four years, and is a member of the select choir and the varsity cheerleading squad.

In addition, she was awarded the Joseph, the Servant Leader, award by St. Joseph's Parish in Cockeysville for her volunteer work as a high school student.

She earned her Scouting Gold Award last summer for her project at St. Vincent's Villa.

In the fall, she will attend the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she has been awarded a Presidential Scholarship. She plans to pursue a career in graphic design.

During the ceremony closing out the shadowing program, Rawlings-Blake stated, "You have given me the confidence that I don't have to worry at all about who will come after me."

Two Cockeysville Middle School student artists received awards for their art entries in the 2012 Flower Mart's Hilda Mae Snoops Art Contest, and received their awards May 4.

Claire Podles, seventh grade, received $125 as the second prize winner for her paint and colored pencil piece, "Little America."

Lisa Zimmerman, also a seventh-grader, received $50 as an honorable mention winner for her colored pencil and chalk piece, "Who Needs Robins?"

Denise Webster, an art teacher at Cockeysville Middle School, said, "This is Claire's second award this month for her art. Claire also placed second for her painting in the annual Baltimore County Middle School Juried Art Show. ... Claire has a strong design sense in her compositions — it seems to be very intuitive."

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Webster also noted that, "Lisa is also a dedicated artist. She currently has a painted bird house on display as part of the Baltimore County ... exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art."

Two other Cockeysville Middle School artists recently received awards — for anti-drug posters.

More than 3,200 posters were submitted for the contest, and Cockeysville Middle took two out of 24 awards.

Eighth-grader Dominic Rozycki and sixth-grader Emily Levitt each received a $300 U.S. Savings Bonds at the award ceremony, conducted by Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger on April 26 at the Old Court House in Towson.

Cockeysville Middle School artists submitted more than 200 posters. Students illustrated messages about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

Patrick Norris, a seventh-grader at St. Joseph School Cockeysville, took first place for boys at the Maryland/Southern Delaware Optimist Club oratorical contest on April 28, in Ocean City.

His winning speech was based on the theme, "How My Optimism Helps Me Overcome Obstacles." A few weeks prior, Patrick had come in first at both the Timonium Optimist Club, as well as the Optimist Club Zone contests, to compete in the statewide competition.

"To have a seventh-grade student take first place, especially when you consider that some of his competitors were finishing up high school — is really a remarkable accomplishment," said Terrance Golden, principal at St. Joseph School Cockeysville.

Norris received a plaque as well as a $2,500 college scholarship for his efforts. St. Joseph School students in grades six through eight participate in the Optimist Club Oratorical Contest each year.

"Oratoricals are a rite of passage for our middle schoolers," said Golden. "The experience of writing the speech, and delivering it to an audience, gives our students an advantage as they get ready for high school."

When asked about his win, Norris said, "I'm excited and happy to be able to share this achievement with my school, and I'm thankful for all the help and support I've gotten from my parents, my teachers and my classmates."

Have a wonderful Preakness weekend and enjoy the lovely spring weather.

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