U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) wasn't always a congressman, he admitted to the graduates and their parents gathered at Robinson Secondary School Thursday evening. He told a story of his beginnings as a supermarket cashier and the sort of quick thinking that carried him from the cash register to the capitol.
One night after the store closed, he said, an elderly woman came in asking to buy half a head of cabbage. Davis politely informed her that the store was closed and that they only sold whole cabbage heads anyway. However, he said, the woman would not take "no" for an answer, so he went to the manager.
"Some old bag came in demanding half a head of cabbage," he told the manager. Upon turning around, Davis said, he realized the would-be customer had followed him.
"But this sweet little lady came by and offered to take the other half," he quickly concluded.
Davis also offered the grads his top six tips for success.
His first tip was to follow one's instincts. "We're all better than most people at something," he said. "Follow that instinct." He told a story about a college classmate named Moose McGee, "the dumbest kid I ever met."
At the class's 10-year reunion, he said, McGee showed up in a limousine and wrote a $250,000 check for the school's alumni fund. When someone asked him how he had found such success, McGee responded that he had bought into a company that manufactured gasket heads for $2 apiece and sold them for $5. "You can't beat that 4 percent profit margin," McGee reportedly imparted.
His other tips were, "Aim high," "Don't give up," "Be comfortable with who you are," "Listen closely," and, "Most importantly, always give back to others."
"There's an old saying," he said. "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."
"THE PATH OF LIFE we've been following together is about to diverge into a seemingly endless number of possibilities," said student speaker Ben Schwank. He encouraged his classmates to take the high road. "We, too, can change the world, if we're willing to make the requisite effort," he said.
Schwank reminisced on the last four years and told his audience, "I can honestly say I've never met one member of this class I didn't like. So thank you for the priceless memories."
Kerry Sparrow, the ceremony's other student speaker, noted that on many occasions she had wished away the time until graduation. Now, she said, "in an ironic twist of fate," she found herself wanting the time back, wishing she could again be singing with her friends in the car on the way to Parkwood Preschool.
Choking up with emotion, Sparrow told her fellow grads that, regardless of what they may have wished, "this time has not passed us by. We have absorbed every minute of it like a flower absorbs the sun."
Meghan Richardson put her thoughts to music in a song she performed, called "Transcend."
"This is a love song that will never end," she sang. "We will transcend." Richardson got a standing ovation from her classmates.
CITIZENSHIP AWARDS were bestowed upon Megan Ginley and Matt Conroy, and Sparrow received the Faculty Award. Twenty-six honor graduates were recognized for maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Each of the class's 420 or so graduates received a diploma and a rose from Principal Mark Merrell before they stepped off of the stage and into their future — which, most immediately, included an all-night graduation party at the Vienna Community Center.