CUMBERLAND — The Fort Hill Scholarship Fund recently announced the named Board of Directors’ scholarships that will be awarded to three graduating seniors at the 10th annual Awards and Recognition Banquet May 14.

This year, the FHSF will posthumously honor the outstanding community contributions of Fort Hill’s first principal, Victor Heisey; former coach Henrietta Snyder; and former school secretary Katherine “Kitty” Pafel Wilson.

“Each epitomizes loyalty to the Fort Hill community and has earned the honor being bestowed upon them,” said Jim Combs, board chairman.

Heisey came to Penn Avenue High School in 1926 as principal. When Fort Hill opened in 1936, Heisey became the first principal and remained there until his retirement in 1962. Much of the early growth of Penn Avenue and Fort Hill High School may be attributed to his efforts and vision. During that time, he established a library and initiated an athletic program. The first graduating class of Fort Hill was in 1937 and Heisey laid the groundwork through tedious planning that has resulted in the traditions, prestige and academic standing that Fort Hill enjoys today.

In September 1994, at age 97, Heisey made his last visit to the newly remodeled Fort Hill and was greeted by a large banner which read, “Welcome home, Mr. Heisey.” On that occasion, Mr. Heisey shared several memories and observations of Fort Hill and his tenure as principal. Even today, when those who knew him think of the term “principal,” the image of Heisey is the epitome of the word.

Snyder was asked to leave her first grade teaching position at Penn Avenue School in 1946, by then school superintendent Charles Knopp, where she had taught for 11 years, to take a temporary job as the girl’s physical education teacher and coach at Fort Hill. Twenty-two years and three sports later, in 1969, she retired from that “temporary” job. In her path, however, she left an incredible mark for achievement in sports at Fort Hill that may never be equaled.

Her term included 15 undefeated seasons in basketball and 56-consecutive-game winning streaks. In her first two years at the helm, her team went to the state championship game before state play for girls was discontinued in Maryland. She also coached girls track and volleyball, where her volleyball teams won three state championships.

The life of Pafel Wilson was Fort Hill. She was dedicated to the school for 50 years and was an institution within herself as the first face students and faculty members would see every time they entered the main office.

After graduating from Penn Avenue in June 1926, she began work there as a bookkeeper in November of the same year. Wilson was still with the school, when in 1937, Fort Hill opened its doors for the first time. Fifty years and four principals later, she finished her last year at Fort Hill in June 1977. She will be forever remembered for the kindness and dedication she consistently demonstrated to Fort Hill’s students and faculty members.

Established in 2008, the Fort Hill Scholarship Fund had one single mission — “to invest in the lives, dreams and futures of Fort Hill students by providing funds to complete their educations.” With the leadership and commitment of its volunteer board of directors alumni, this goal has become a reality in making a difference in the Fort Hill community.

“Ultimately, we hope to one day provide some source of funding to every Fort Hill graduating student who wishes to pursue a higher education,” said Combs. “If the desire and commitment is present on the part of the student, we want them to know someone believes in them.”

Funding support for each honorary scholarship and its respective endowment comes from a variety of sources. Personal donations by the family members and friends, by individual class members, in response to an annual mailing to all alumni members and through a few strategic fund raising opportunities.

This year alone, 29 scholarships totaling nearly $34,000 will be awarded to the graduating class of 2018.

For additional information about contributing to any one of these named Board of Director Scholarships, the endowment fund, or to create a scholarship in your name, the name of a loved one, your corporate name or in honor of your FH graduating class or faculty member, contact Lori Morral at 301-777-2570 or Donations may be made safely and securely by visiting

For additional information about events, visit the website or on Facebook.


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