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Lake Braddock, Class of 2005

Secondary school celebrates its commencement ceremonies.

Under brilliant blue skies, the Class of 2005 at Lake Braddock Secondary School celebrated commencement at a June 21 ceremony at the school stadium.

A festive atmosphere ruled the day, as family members huddled under umbrellas to beat the 80-degree heat and students batted several beach balls in the air throughout the ceremony.

"It’s exciting. It’s my first graduate, the first one in the family, so it’s a big deal," said Marva Wells, whose daughter Ariel graduated. Nearly 20 family members from Tennessee, Missouri and Texas filled the stands to watch Ariel graduate.

After the graduates entered the stadium to the traditional strains of "Pomp and Circumstance," Principal Linda Burke greeted graduates and senior class president Guatam Malhotra offered a message of welcome. The school honored the 26 valedictorians of the Class of 2005, and one of them, Charles Fletcher, offered remarks.

"Now is our opportunity to create our life after Lake Braddock," said Fletcher, who encouraged graduates to celebrate their most embarrassing moments in life.

"Take pride in these moments. They are yours, and they have shaped you," said Fletcher. "We need to fall in public and squirt milk out our noses … and even vomit in the middle of an AP exam to fully understand the complexities of life."

AP English and film studies teacher Dirk Schulze, a student favorite, spoke to the graduates as the keynote speaker. Weaving together personal anecdotes and passages from Cormac McCarthy’s "All the Pretty Horses" and Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," Schulze culminated by encouraging the graduates to see themselves as an important part of the world.

"You are a part of all that you have met," he said, citing Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem "Ulysses." "What an awesome thought that is. You matter, you affect the people you meet."

Several of the school’s choirs performed The Beatles' song "The Long and Winding Road," and the combined bands performed "America the Beautiful" before it was name-reading time. The sub-school principals took turns zipping through the names and then Burke declared the students graduated and senior class historian Kristie Dorfler told the students to turn their tassels. The caps went soaring into the air.

"It’s definitely something I’ll remember. It’s exciting, but we have to realize we’re going to be moving on and things will be different from now on," said graduate Andrew Clark.