In her graduation speech Ebony Gore, senior class president, said diversity is what she thought distinguished the Class of 2005 from the other classes that passed through Herndon High School.
"Any regular student could have accomplished any activity that we accomplished," said Gore to the sea of red caps and gowns stirring on the Patriot Center floor.
What made the Class of 2005 different was the varying talents and abilities of classmates, she said.
She also said that although everyone will be going their separate ways by the end of the summer, they should reflect on their time at HHS as a learning experience.
"Just know that everyone that comes into your life, comes into it for a reason," she said. "Regardless of what happens 10 years from now ... remember you were a part of the Class of 2005."
THE CEREMONY, held for the second year at George Mason University in the Patriot Center, had the usual array of beach balls and balloons floating through the crowd.
And although no students dressed in bunny suits, like one graduating senior did last year, there were some who chose to make one last impression.
One student, after his name was read, faked a "fall" before shaking Principal Frances Ivey's hand and accepting his diploma. Another student dropped down to break dance before receiving his diploma. While another, as he walked down the stairs, whipped out a can of silly string, shot a couple green strands into the air, and then willingly handed it over to administrators before taking his seat.
Nancy Barron, HHS assistant principal, said although there were about 500 students in the senior class to start the year, due to attrition and other factors approximately 483 students were left at the end of the year.
At the ceremony June 22, 454 students graduated, although two students chose not to walk, said Barron.
Before students took the stage to receive their much anticipated diplomas, class officers offered parting words of advice to classmates.
In addition former principal Janice Leslie, director of instructional services Fairfax County Public Schools, offered her congratulations to graduates.
"The Class of 2005 has achieved more National Merit semi-finalists and finalist status," said Leslie, "than any other Herndon High School class."
After Leslie, Ivey presented the faculty award. Ivey said the award is bestowed on a student who exemplifies scholastics, character and the "highest ideals of humanity." The award is voted on by all members of HHS faculty.
This year's winner was Sally Levine. Ivey described Levine as a scholar, athlete and a dedicated individual. Levine was also one of 12 students to graduate having maintained a grade point average of 4.0 or higher through the four years of high school. Levine plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall and said she wants to major in engineering or possibly bio-medical engineering. She said she is interested in pursuing stem-cell research.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF SPEECHES for students came when Jim Hull, HHS English teacher, offered his advice as guest speaker.
Using sarcasm to get students' attention, Hull offered advice that stayed away from stereotypical "follow your dreams" speeches.
"Dreaming is passive — practical ambition is driving," he said. "If you do not actively take steps to realize your goals, wishing on a star will not make your dreams come true."
Telling the students that they were equal — dressed in the same goofy caps and gowns — Hull said from that point on it was up to them to decide their futures.
"It's not your intelligence or your ability, it's your ambition that's going to make you successful," he said. "Nothing is granted to you, in fact, nothing is guaranteed."
He said starting the day after the ceremony each students' future would begin.
"No one can limit your ambition, you can have as much ambition as you will yourself to have," he said. "There's a powerful play in life and you have an active voice. What will your verse be?"
Concluding his speech Hull gave students a realistic view of life after high school, again emphasizing to students their success was up to them.
"In 10 or 20 years some of you will be wildly successful," he said, "some of you will be neck deep in mediocrity and others will have crashed on the rocks."
FOLLOWING HULL, Carrie Lyons, class vice president, gave a brief speech and then Ivey called the Class of 2005 forward to receive their diplomas, row by row.
Ivey, promoted to principal in 2005, acted as class advisor to the students until the last six months before graduation. Prosperanta Calhoun took over as advisor to fill Ivey's spot, although Ivey said she tried to stay close with the students.
"I will always remember their great personalities, caring and fun spirit that they brought to school each day," she said about the graduating class. "They also were hard workers in the classroom and in the various activities that they pursued."
Looking forward to getting to know the incoming freshman class, Ivey said she wanted the graduates to know her door is always open and she hopes they will keep in touch.
"Continue to work hard," said Ivey, offering last words of advice. "Be considerate of others, follow your dreams and continue to seek advice and make wise and knowledgeable choices."