Attention previous Bulldog graduates: there’s a new pack of dogs in town. These Bulldogs have a message for their fellow alumni — "we’re no class of mutts."
That's how Class President Jordan Broadwater summarized her sentiments during a speech at Westfield High's graduation ceremony last Friday at GMU's Patriot Center.
She explained that the Class of 2004 did not originate from Chantilly, Centreville, or Oakton high schools. "We didn’t strip ourselves of our identities as Chargers, Wildcats, or Cougars," said Broadwater. "Instead, we were born Bulldogs. In fact, that makes all previously graduated classes of Westfield dogs of mixed breed, or mixed species, for that matter."
On Friday afternoon, some 608 Bulldogs walked across the stage and received diplomas from the only principal Westfield High has ever known — Principal Dale Rumberger — who moves on to help build the new south county high school.
"Many people have said some kind words in the last few days about what has been accomplished, and have attributed that to me," said Rumberger before handing out diplomas. "I disagree. We are a good team in what we do."
He said that other high school graduation ceremonies had included Westfield in their remarks. "They measure themselves against Westfield," said Rumberger. "Class, you have defined the motto, ‘Excellence in every endeavor, in all things, all places, at all times.’"
EARLIER IN THE CEREMONY, student speaker Joseph Schumacher hinted at the reasons other schools might compare themselves to Westfield.
"To mention our successes would take all day, so I won’t bother," said Schumacher. "Besides, what kind of state track champion, gold art key winning, top honor band, district volleyball champion, top honors for journalism, second place in baseball in states, best play award winning, and state football championship school would need to reminded of that?"
He said that most adults in the room would tout the school’s academic successes and artistic achievements. Schumacher, on the other hand, believed that the biggest trophies were the friends made at Westfield.
"The successes don’t have anything — don’t mean anything — unless it’s with people you accomplish it with," said Schumacher. "What is the roller coaster without the person you’re riding with? Not that much fun."
Senior class sponsors Joann Sevel and Catherine Burke presented the faculty award to Jacqueline Chapman, who will attend James Madison University this fall.
"To know her it to be inspired by the authentic nature of her character, and the sincerity in which she treats all those around her," said the presenters of Chapman.
Class Vice President Kevin Knickerbocker presented the Student Award to Class President Jordan Broadwater. "This person emotes happiness with a constant smile and is always willing to give help to anyone who needs it," said Knickerbocker. "There’s not a single person in the senior class who deserves this more."
Joshua McLeish, class senator, announced that the class 2004 had purchased two gifts to share with the school in remembrance of the first purebred Bulldogs. The first, a fence located to the right of the home side of the football stadium, is to hold within its borders the numbers symbolizing each year’s graduating class. The second gift is a school entrance floor mat engraved with the message, "Purebred Class of 2004, Home of the Bulldogs."
Rachel Armor, class treasurer, announced a list of honor graduates, and presented Jill Ward as the salutatorian, and Jennifer Lee as the valedictorian.
During her valedictorian speech, Lee reiterated the many accolades won by Westfield’s senior class. "We have, at the school, painted loud, vivid, and colorful streaks across a canvas that was but four years ago entirely blank."