Emily Hornbaker honored for academics and musical talent
by Kate Shunney
Emily Hornbaker prepared her valedictory speech for the May 23 Berkeley Springs High School graduation around the theme of Expectations.
It's an appropriate subject matter for a young woman who has inspired high expectations in both her peers and her teachers.
Hornbaker graduated with a 4.25 grade point average, excelling at both general courses and Advanced Placement classes during her high school career.
She will attend Frostburg State University and major in music education, which is no surprise to those who know her. Hornbaker has been playing the piano with teacher Pat Springer since she was six. She took up the clarinet in the sixth grade.
In her senior year, she served as the Drum Major for the Berkeley Springs High School band. Her musical talents secured her several scholarships and awards. Hornbaker's academic skills qualified her for in-state tuition at the Maryland university.
Principal George Ward said Hornbaker's distinctions extend beyond the classroom and musical stage.
She's one of these quiet leaders, someone who'd rather that someone else have the limelight, he said.
If one of her classmates needs help, advice or guidance, she's the very first one to be there, said Ward.
Hornbaker credits her mother, Mary Vivian Hornbaker, with developing this trait in her. A younger Emily sometimes accompanied her mother on visits to see special needs preschoolers. She learned then that her intelligence and family support was a blessing that carried with it the responsibility to help others.
In her school career, Hornbaker made service and leadership an important part of the picture.
She was President of the Student Council and National Honor Society, a member of the Local School Improvement Council, a peer mentor and leader of the school's band. Hornbaker also played three years of tennis for Berkeley Springs High School.
In her free time, which she jokingly says she has to schedule, Hornbaker volunteers with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She's mentored the same young woman, now a third-grader, for two years.
It's really enjoyable for me to be able to help someone younger, Hornbaker said. Mostly the mentorship is about having fun, playing games and talking, she said.
I'd much rather be busy than bored, said Hornbaker.
A natural at music
Hornbaker's passion is music and she comes by it honestly.
When I was little, band was just a part of the family, said Hornbaker. Her grandfather, Herbert Young, had a 50-year career in music, including 35 years as band director for Hancock High School.
She recalls days spent in the home of her grandparents, hearing Glenn Miller on the record player, or listening to Beethoven.
It wasn't so much a question of if you wanted to play an instrument, but which one you wanted to play, Hornbaker said of the tradition of musicianship in her family.
All of Young's seven children were required to take piano lessons and choose an instrument from his collection of nearly 30 instruments.
When her time came to choose, Hornbaker picked the clarinet that her mother had played as a young woman. Its family history and sound quality were what attracted the young girl to the wind instrument.
It seems fitting, then, that Hornbaker won the first annual Tri-State Herbert A. Young Music Award this spring. The award was presented at the high school's spring concert and carries with it a $200 scholarship.
The award may also point her toward the same career her grandfather had, which is what Hornbaker sees in her future.
I really love the variety you get with the band. Something's different every day. Nothing's quite like it. When there's a band, even just for a concert, people are on the edge of their seat, excited to hear what's next, said Hornbaker.
She's gotten to see that reaction plenty in her high school years, which have included many performances both at home and at honor band competitions, and with Morgan County's Community Band.
I might not make tons of money being a band director, but I have to follow my passion, she said.
Hornbaker is the daughter of Mary Vivian Hornbaker of Berkeley Springs and Dean Hornbaker of Florida.