As Pomp and Circumstance played over the loudspeakers, the graduates processed into the gymnasium. They wore orange gowns, navy, white, purple, magenta and blue. “It’s a rainbow,” said Summer School Principal Shawn Derose. “You’ve got to love to see it.”
Almost 100 students from nine high schools graduated Aug. 10 in the gymnasium at Mount Vernon High School. Students came from Bryant, Edison, Hayfield, Lake Braddock, Lee, Mount Vernon, South County, West Potomac and West Springfield. Most had spent six weeks in the summer completing one class or studying for the SOL tests.
“It was a tedious six weeks,” said Summer School Assistant Principal Sandra Bobo, “but the proudest moment was watching them walk across that stage.”
Dr. Brian Binggeli, the new Cluster IV Assistant Superintendent, gave the commencement speech. He asked the graduates to applaud the people in their lives who made them feel as if they’d had no choice but to graduate high school, but stressed that they must believe in themselves to succeed. “If there is only one person left on this planet who believes in your ability, and that person is you, then your dreams are alive,” he told them.
After the ceremony, Derose said the graduation proved that these students had believed in themselves. “Many of these graduates, they have made mistakes in the past, but they’ve overcome whatever trials they’ve had and learned a valuable lesson that hard work and dedication equal success,” he said.
As a kaleidoscope of gowns swirled around friends and family members after the recessional, Steve Morris, a Hayfield graduate, stood out among the celebrants, raising his arms and emotionally embracing people.
“I worked so hard,” he said. He’d had to take Algebra 2 over the summer. “Thank God I passed it.”
Morris said he plans to enlist in the Air Force. A few moments later, he unwrapped his arms from his fiancé, Ashely Tobin, and raised them to the ceiling. “It’s over baby!” he hollered.