WRUS Masquerade Gala Honors its First “Great Blue Heron” Award Recipients

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Wye River Upper School (WRUS) presented its newly minted Great Blue Heron Award and WRUS Alumni Achievement Award to two individuals at the School’s “Masquerade Gala: Unmasking Achievers with Learning Differences,” hosted at its Centreville location and attended by 150 guests.

The School, which is celebrating its 15th year of educating bright high school students with learning differences, hosted the gala to highlight the accomplishments of Alumna Chloe Tong, of Easton, Maryland and Parker Seip, of Raleigh, North Carolina. The Great Blue Heron Award is designed to honor individuals who have used their strengths and passions to achieve personal and professional goals, and provide leadership and service to their communities.

Students at Wye River present the Great Blue Heron awards to Chloe Tong and Parker Seip.

The School’s Great Hall was festively decorated in a black and gold masquerade theme with an impressive art-installation of a mask (created by WRUS students) suspended from the ceiling. The Gala brought together parents, WRUS alumni, Board members, Town Council, donors, and faculty and staff. Guests enjoyed live music, a silent auction and other fundraisers, cocktails and heavy hors-d’oeuvres donated and served by local restaurants and caterers, including Magnolia Caterers, The Narrows Restaurant, Smokehouse Grill, Doc’s Riverside Grille, Fisherman’s Inn & Crab Deck, Krave Courtyard, Austin and Guy Spurry, and the Chesapeake Culinary Center.

“Almost as soon as we had established the award concept and criteria we knew we had two very strong candidates, Chloe Tong and Parker Seip,” says Chrissy Aull, Executive Director of WRUS, who conducted the award presentations. “With support and opportunities to pursue their goals, both Chloe and Parker learned to use tools and strategies to get around their learning differences. They are both shining examples that students facing challenges do not need to miss out on pursuing their passions.”

Chloe graduated from WRUS in 2010 and went on to attend Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she graduated in 2014 with a degree in dance. After a few months of traveling in Europe, she moved to Australia to work as a nanny while pursuing her love of dance and rowing. Now employed by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Chloe is an integral member of the CBMM staff. She has worked in a variety of roles and more recently has become certified as a backhoe operator, training others in this operation. Chloe has also worked to found the Eastern Shore Community Rowers, a nonprofit organization. She continues to dance and choreograph productions for area dance companies. Together with fellow dancers Tong has created another 501c3, Continuum, a dance company for which she serves as artistic director, choreographer, and dancer

Chloe has one more major undertaking in progress: She is taking lessons to become a licensed as a helicopter pilot. A love of flying is something Chloe shares with fellow Great Blue Heron Award recipient, Parker Seip.

Guests enjoy the Masquerade Gala in the School’s School Great Hall.

Parker, the son of Easton residents and longtime friends of WRUS – Tom and Alexa Seip, attended the Winston School in Del Mar, California, a school like WRUS which is designed to support the strengths and needs of students with learning differences. As his parents are quick to note, “All Parker ever wanted to do was fly airplanes.” Upon graduation from Winston, Parker earned a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Flight Operations from Daniel Webster College. He later became an instructor for the college, and he earned his Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) status from the Federal Aviation Administration. Now with years of commercial flight experience, Parker is employed by a major commercial airline as First Officer on the Airbus 320 and 321, a craft which accommodates 220 passengers. He and his wife Amy and their two young children reside in North Carolina.

The School’s financial aid program will benefit from the Gala proceeds which include generous sponsorships by Alan and Penny Griffith, CS/2 LLC, Don and Debbie Pusey, Miles & Stockbridge, Richard K. White, Jr., 1880 Bank, Harry and Virginia Duffey, Tom and Alexa Seip, Town of Centreville, and Shore United/Wye Financial & Trust.

Wye River Upper School enrolls bright high school students with learning challenges including ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety. For more information, contact Katie Theeke at 410-758-2922, katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org.

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