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WPHS Seniors Swim Into the Future

Graduation ceremony held for 390 seniors.

Three hundred and ninety students comprised West Potomac's Class of 2004. Commencement services were held Monday evening at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax.

Rachel Hawe was the valedictorian, while Alex Fetgatter served as salutatorian. Susan O'Malley, President of Washington Sports and Entertainment, was the guest speaker.

Hawe used a swimming theme in her message to her fellow classmates, talking about the progress of the students throughout their time at West Potomac.

". . . Class of 2004, for the past four years, with the help of family, friends, and teachers, we have been learning how to swim in the big pool of life. At times, we were perfecting our stroke, and setting amazing records; while at other times, we were struggling simply to stay afloat. Well, today the floaties come off. We have been well prepared, and with our newfound independence, the water is inviting, and yet, terribly frightening at the same time.

"Some of us will first test the waters, dipping a toe into the cold of inexperience. Then they will slowly descend the stairs, step by step, submerging themselves into life. Others will jump right in, knowing the only way to overcome the cold is to keep swimming.

"Still others will be even more daring, diving in head first. To those of us, let me offer this warning: check the depth. In other words, know your surroundings. There is a thin line between bravery and stupidity. Know where this line is, and more importantly, respect it. . ."

Hawe also talked about friendship and said, "Friends truly are a floatation device, and one I recently used."

Hawe concluded her speech by saying, "As we leave here today, we are sure to stumble, but never drown. Henry Ford said, 'Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.' Class of 2004, I encourage you to dream, to love, to lose, to stumble, and to fall, but always to get back up and try again. I plead with you: do not become a passenger in your own life, by not living up to your potential. West Potomac Class of 2004, I have enjoyed the swimming lessons.

"As a class, we thank those who taught us to navigate the waters, and know it is time for us to swim without their assistance. I have no doubt that we will all stay afloat, and maybe, someday, even walk on water. But until then, when the question arises of whether to sink or swim, know that to swim is the only option. Congratulations."

ACCORDING TO RECORDS by Betsy Galeota, WPHS career research specialist, well over a hundred WPHS students were accepted into Virginia schools, including 18 into University of Virginia; 15 into William & Mary College; 34 for Virginia Tech; 38 for James Madison; and 38 for George Mason. Not all of these are firm declarations by students, but are the numbers of students who were accepted into the respective colleges.

Entering the Coast Guard Academy next year will be Benjamin Litts and Andrew Norberg. Eric Ahle, Michael Herrington, Andrew Chaney and Mayrell Voellm received ROTC scholarships.

Matthew Williams received the U.S. Air Force Mathematics Award for Highest Cumulative GPA, while Rachel Hawe received the corresponding one for Science. Both Keidy Berroa and Alvaro Vilela received an award from the U.S. Army Montgomery G.I. Bill College Education Fund.

Katherine Meyer had the distinction of being one of the National Merit Scholarship Program Finalists and 33 students received Advanced Placement Diplomas.