Rain delayed T. C. Williams High School’s graduation ceremony by more than an hour and forced the cancellation of all speeches save the welcome.
Thunder and lightning threatened throughout the abbreviated ceremony but the 570 seniors all received their diplomas as parents and friends watched. Principal John Porter handed out diplomas, declared the class of 2002 graduates and dismissed everyone just ahead of the next storm. Elisa Mitchell, the class president, was the only student who spoke.
“Mr. Porter, you are more than a principal. You are a friend, a cheerleader and our biggest fan…” she said. “The class of 2002 thanks you.”
She also thanked the teachers who have seen the class through 13 years of school, the senior class advisor, Mr. Moore, and thanked her classmates.
The graduates are representative of the diversity that defines T. C. Williams. They speak more than 25 different languages and are black, Hispanic, Asian, African, Eastern European, white and multiracial. More than 90 percent of them will attend some type of post-secondary education or training. They will receive over $900,000 in scholarships from organizations and educational institutions.
Christopher Boutros is this year’s class valedictorian. He plans to attend Stanford University and is looking at a career in medicine.
Maija Garnaas, the salutatorian, will attend Princeton University, where she will play soccer in addition to focusing on her studies. She was named female athlete of the year at the high school and received all-met and all-state honors in soccer this year.
Hadyn Rickett, another senior, will attend William and Mary next year and study international relations. She expressed the sentiments of many of the graduates. “There’s almost no other school in Northern Virginia where your principal knows who you are and expresses an interest in what you are doing,” she said.
“Mr. Porter always spoke to me in the hallway and even wrote little personal notes when I received some type of an honor. He was ready to write letters of recommendation for me and to call admission offices at colleges and universities to support my application. It’s like being part of a very large family with friends that come from everywhere and all come together at our one high school.”
Graduation will be broadcast on Comcast with the speeches that were taped after graduation.