The sign in front of T.C. Williams High School said "The Class of 2004 has Class." It was a mark of their principal's respect.
More than 550 seniors walked across the stage at Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium to receive their diplomas last Thursday. The blazing sunshine and high humidity did not dampen their enthusiasm.
“But they behaved in a manner that was fitting for the solemn occasion,” said Principal John Porter. “That’s why I put up that congratulatory statement on the marquis.
“The group of kids at T. C. this year — 10th through 12th grades — was the best group of kids we have had in a long time. I am sure that our seniors will do well,” he said.
The class valedictorian, Cassie Stoddard, was one of the speakers at graduation. She told her graduating class and assembled family members, “Maybe you haven’t succeeded every time, but taking a challenge isn’t about success. It’s about having the courage to risk failure. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we must continue to challenge ourselves. We won’t win every audition or be offered every job, but if we don’t give it a shot, we won’t do much of anything," she said.
Stoddard continued by saying, “As we graduate today, we’re leaving the biggest comfort zone we know. And part of us doesn’t want to. We know that things will change – that, quite literally, we can never come back to T. C. Williams…
“To the class of 2004: we have survived snowstorms, hurricanes, bomb threats, sniper threats, SOL tests and morning announcements. WE can do anything. As we venture into the unknown, one thing is certain: we are the Titans, and we will find our way,” she said.
Cassie will attend Yale in the fall. She received a number of scholarships, including a National Merit Scholarship, the only senior to be given such an honor, and the coveted Rixse Foundation Scholarship. She also received several citizenship awards.
Sarah Kalil, the class salutatorian, will attend Tufts. She also received a number of scholarships and was recognized for her involvement in extracurricular activities.
TWENTY-FIVE STUDENTS graduated with above a 4.0 grade point average. “This is about what we have been seeing over the past few years,” Porter said.
More than 80 percent of the T. C. graduates will attend colleges or universities. Most will remain in Virginia but many students will venture further from home.
Cintya Renderos will attend the University of Maryland in September with the help of an anonymous donor. The donor read an article about students participating in volunteer activities in which Cyntia expressed her desire to go to school at Maryland. She helps to support her family so she was not sure, even with some scholarship assistance through the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, that she would be able to do so [go to college]. The donor came forward and has committed to paying all of Cyntia’s expenses, including tuition and room and board, for the next four years.
“There is even some talk about paying for medical school,” Porter said. “It’s the first time I ever remember someone coming forward and paying for everything. This is wonderful.”
Cyntia volunteers at the Alexandria Red Cross chapter and will continue to do so until she leaves for college.
Erich Duchele will attend the Air Force Academy. “Every year we have at least one student who goes to one of the military academies,” Porter said.
WHILE THESE prestigious awards recognized the academic and community contributions of the students, there were others given by the students themselves. Every year seniors vote for 12 “superlatives.” These are published in Theogony, the T. C. newspaper.
Best dressed male, Zack King and female, Sade Byrd; most artistic male, Levar Carter and female, Michaela Murphy; Best looking male, Charles Barclay and female, Kaelyn Branch; most musically talented male, Terrance Polite and female, Cassie Stoddard; best smile for a male, Terrance Polite and female, Danee Grimes; funniest male, Dean Muhtadi and female, Gehree Surratt; most dramatic male, Terrance Polite and female, Alicia Cagnoli; most likely to succeed male, Terrance Polite and Alex Komoroske and female, Sarah Ball; most school spirit for a male, Dean Muhtadi and female, Ashley Dawkins; most athletic male, Richard Hunter, and female, Sherita Daniels; best couple, Adam Nevarez and Jackie Beiro.
This was the last year for graduation to be held at T. C. Next year, because of construction [for a new school building], plans call for the ceremony to be held at the George Mason University Patriot Center.