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Easton High celebrates class of 2021

EASTON — Easton High School graduates marched through 90-degree weather to get their diplomas at Warrior Stadium, and students in the class of 2021 are now poised to move on to college, the military, trade school and the workforce.

Graduates dressed in dark gowns with orange sashes for the ceremony, which included live music from the school band and a flag presentation of colors from the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. Afterward, graduates were celebrated by family and friends outside the stadium grounds.

Scores of students were honored for earning a GPA within the top 5% statewide and for winning excellence awards in science, social studies, career and technology pathways and more. Collectively, the class won $15 million in scholarships. One graduate, Naiset Perez, also earned her associate’s degree from Chesapeake College.

The valedictorian was Elizabeth Harris, and the salutatorian was Zoe Pochron. Both gave speeches to the class, and Harris told fellow graduates to “embrace change.”

“As we prepare to venture across a much larger parking lot to our colleges, careers and the rest of our lives, we are walking toward the biggest transformation many of us have ever faced,” she said. “Change is going to walk us across this track, out of this stadium and onto the harshly paved real world ... but we don’t have to be passive, we can seek change for ourselves (and) seek opportunities.”

Graduates looked ahead with anticipation for the next chapter in their lives. Tristan Cassell said he will attend Chesapeake College and play soccer there. But his high-school life will be missed.

“I have a lot of pride for this school,” he said of Easton High. “But it feels good knowing that we put everything together and we were able to do an event like this.”

Ja’Niyah Landman was accepted into a community college in New Jersey, where she plans to study nursing.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” Landman said proudly.

Superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools Dr. Kelly Griffith told the 2021 class she was proud of them for their “willpower” during a “tumultuous” year-and-a-half because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Griffith said she was excited to share in this “victorious moment” for the graduates.

“This past year has proved at least one thing: that as a community we can persevere and overcome any obstacle in front of us,” she said. “The world has changed and you will determine how we rebuild it.”

In his speech, Ryan O’Connor, the senior class president, told his peers they should not regret their school experience — even the last year-and-a-half. He said it made them “different” and who they are today.

“What’s so good about being regular?” he asked. “The ball can always bounce a thousand different ways. But those experiences are what got us sitting here at the finish line today.”

Some of the 275 graduates were accepted into big universities. Max McCall, who was recognized for various awards and school-club memberships, will be heading to Vanderbilt University in the fall.

“I’m excited to get out of here and see what’s out there,” he said. “It’s time to learn.”

Also heading to university is William Haufe Jr. and his sister Bree Haufe. The Haufes contributed greatly to athletics, the community and academic life at Easton High, and both will be moving on to the University of Maryland, College Park, next school year.

“It was crazy to see everybody on stage. So many relationships,” said William Haufe, who plans to study exercise science and physical training. He said graduating was a little bittersweet.

Bree Haufe will study environmental science. She hopes to work for the National Park Service one day. Bree said the limited school year during the pandemic was hard on her, but she was happy that “it was over” and that the 2021 class had an in-person ceremony.

Editor’s note: Max McCall is the son of Star Democrat reporter and photographer Tom McCall. Bree Haufe and William Haufe. Jr. are the children of Star Democrat Sports Editor William Haufe.

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Man found guilty of murder in 20-year-old cold case

CAMBRIDGE — An East New Market man charged with a 20-year-old murder was found guilty of all charges on Monday, June 7, in Cambridge.

The jury hearing the murder and assault trial of John Michael Ingersoll Jr. deliberated for about an hour and 40 minutes on the fifth day of the trial before return the guilty verdict at 2:40 p.m.

Ingersoll faced first- and second-degree murder charges, as well as assault and handgun charges, in connection with the June 4, 2001, murder of 31-year-old Gregory Guy Collins of Vienna, a three-year veteran of the Division of Corrections and a member of the Maryland National Guard.

Dorchester County State’s Attorney Bill Jones said the jury heard evidence from a witness that Ingersoll laid in wait for Collins on Indiantown Road and shot Collins through the back window of Collins’s pickup truck.

The state’s case against Ingersoll said he had received orders from Dead Man Incorporated, the gang Ingersoll was affiliated with while serving a sentence in Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County.

Jones said Ingersoll and Collins had a confrontation while the former was incarcerated at ECI, and Ingersoll threatened to kill the corrections officer, a threat gang leadership ordered Ingersoll to carry out.

Collins was reported missing, and a state trooper driving on Indiantown Road to take a statement for the missing persons report saw a reflection in a wooded area. The trooper investigated and found the reflection came from Collin’s pickup truck.

Ingersoll was indicted and arrested in 2019 after a witness came forward, and the trial was delayed to give the prosecution adequate preparation time, as well as when the court was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The victim’s family was present when the jury delivered its verdict on the fifth day of the trial, including his wife and his daughter, who was 6 months old when her father was murdered.

“We are grateful to the family for their patience and perseverance,” Jones said, “and we are grateful to the state police for their perseverance.”

“The state police never gave up on it,” he said.

Mike Detmer is a staff writer for the Dorchester Star and Star Democrat based in Maryland. You can reach him at mdetmer@chespub.com.

Unclaimed property listings from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office includes nearly 70,000 accounts totaling more than $59 million.

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Bringing 'buy local' intentions to life: Downtown backers hope to grow recognition program for first responders

EASTON — Boosters of downtown Easton have bigger plans for a new effort that honors local first responders while helping local shops, galleries and restaurants.

Bluepoint Hospitality, which owns restaurants, shops and other local businesses in Easton, has given $100 “Downtown Easton” gift cards to 500 local emergency responders to honor their community service.

The Downtown Easton gift cards can be used at participating local businesses. The gift cards were launched last year by the Easton Economic Development Corp. as a shop and dine local effort to help downtown businesses challenged by the COVID pandemic.

Backers of the effort want more businesses to participate and the recognition of emergency responders to become an annual local effort in Talbot County.

“Ultimately, we would like to see this program become an annual tradition in recognition of our emergency response teams. The more businesses that participate, the better,” said Allie McGuckian, Bluepoint Hospitality’s director of marketing and public relations.

Bluepoint’s donation of the cards to firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other responders is enabled via Paul and Joanne Prager. Paul Prager is the principal with Bluepoint. He has made a number of real estate, business and philanthropic investments in Easton.

EEDC Director Tracy Ward also wants to see the Downtown Easton “shop local” effort continue to grow.

“We were proud to be able to assist in this generous gift to our first responders by providing the technology platform that has enabled over 50 of our Main Street businesses to participate in the program. Through acts like this, we bring our ‘buy local’ intentions to life, and the community wins.”

Actress Natalie Portman speaks at the launch of the Fifth Annual Make March Matter fundraising campaign for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Monday, March 2, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)