For once, Danielle Zuralow was glad to hear her name at the end of the list. With a last name like Zuralow, she was used to being last. This time, when Zuralow's name was called, Robinson Secondary's 2004 Commencement Ceremony was over.
"I'm always last," Zuralow said. "It's kind of special. The last one to graduate out of 680 something [students]. It's kind of cool."
The packed field house at Robinson Secondary on Tuesday, June 15, was mayhem for a few minutes while the moment sunk in.
The afternoon started in a haze of Pomp and Circumstance, with the Fairfax County Police color guard setting the stage for Principal Daniel Meier, who looked out at the sea of square mortar board hats.
"This is an awesome sight," he said, noting that Robinson is the largest high school in Virginia.
John Driscoll, a government teacher, was the guest speaker and gave a lighthearted speech on the continuity of changes.
"He makes the classroom atmosphere very comfortable for everyone," said Kimberly Brown, the senior class vice president as she introduced Driscoll.
Driscoll was at Robinson for 33 years and will retire this year. He remembered the first graduating class at Robinson in 1973.
"You guys didn't change that much over time," Driscoll said, urging them to remember June 15, 2034.
"That's 30 years from today," Driscoll said.
THEN, DRISCOLL quoted John Lennon and George Harrison with lyrics about planning, admitting that retiring was just an event.
"I don't have a plan," Driscoll said.
Mark Greenfelder, the senior class principal, announced the faculty award, which went to two recipients this year, Megan Beatty and Jennifer Fier, the SGA president.
"You have truly made Robinson Secondary a better place," Greenfelder said.
The class of 2004's gift to Robinson was a sound system in the football stadium, and Michael Dunleavy, the SGA vice, president awarded Carol Buschman a present as well, a poem called "Ode to Miss Buschman." Buschman was the senior subschool secretary.
"I wish our time with you wasn't so short," the poem ended.
Matt O'Leary, SGA president, looked at Buschman's participation with the graduating class.
"She's much more down to Earth than people realize," Matt said.
Christina Johnson was in from California with her mother Toni Silvas to see her niece Amanda Sanchez graduate. They managed to track down a lei for their niece, for a touch of California.
"I was calling all over," said Silvas.
Meredith McCormick, one of 40 valedictorians, walked through the parking lot, diploma in hand, in an aura of accomplishment.
"Working hard will always prepare you for anything," Meredith said.