DAR Constitution Hall rocked with cheers and applause as Yorktown High School's class of 2006 prepared to formally end their high school careers on Thursday, June 22.
Family, friends and other guests came to see the students receive diplomas, which represented four years of hard work. Holding the graduation at the historic DAR Constitution Hall gave the ceremony a distinctive feeling of importance.
Michael Krulfeld, director of student activities, said: "The traditional atmosphere of Constitution Hall always makes graduations there something to remember." This feeling of formality was assisted by a pre-ceremony concert, performed by Yorktown's own symphony orchestra.
AS FAMILY and friends took their seats, the orchestra performed Wagner's prelude from "Die Meistersinger," "Engines of Resistance" by Larry Clark, an excerpt of Howard Shore's score from "Lord of the Rings," and closed with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 as the ceremony was about to begin.
The graduates filed in wearing robes of blue and white, walking proudly to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance." After the Pledge of Allegiance, one of the graduates, Ranya Daher, took the stand to welcome faculty and guests.
Norma Chamma, another student graduating with distinction, introduced the guests on the stage behind her, including Yorktown's principal, Dr. Raymond Pasi, Libby Garvey of the Arlington School Board, Dr. Mark Johnston, the assistant superintendent of instruction, Chris Pagliaro, the assistant director of the Career Center, and Dr. Mary McBride, the assistant principal of the H-B Woodlawn Program.
Though the graduation technically did not have a guest speaker, Dr. Robert Smith, the superintendent of Arlington Public Schools rose to give an address.
"This class had a number of noteworthy accomplishments," he said, citing the Cappies awards received by Yorktown for its production of "Seussical," the state championships in debate and swimming, and that one member of the class had designed the decal placed on cars for property tax. He reminded the audience of how many great things these students must have achieved on a day-to-day basis which widely go unnoticed.
Yorktown did not just name a single valedictorian, but recognized all students with a 4.0 or higher GPA as graduating with distinction. Two of these students delivered their words of wisdom to their fellow classmates.
Stephanie Eiss took the stand first. She stressed the importance of taking the time to enjoy life. "Life isn’t just about moving from one accomplishment, one learning experience to the next," she said. "It’s about taking two seconds to just have fun." Dropping one last bit of advice, she told the class to "take this summer to do as little “learning” as possible."
CAITLIN O'MALLEY focused her speech on all the little things, since, as she said, "it's the little things that add up to make high school memorable." She spoke of the paranoia she had on her first day, the strange layout of the school and difficulty finding parking. It was these small things, whether good or bad, that stuck out in her memory.
"The grade that I wanted so badly or the test that seemed impossible don’t seem important now." As her speech drew to a close, she urged her classmates to treasure all their high school memories since "they will last you a lifetime."
As each of the students climbed the stage to receive their diplomas, family members and friends cheered one group at a time. Though the students move on towards life beyond high school, their impact on the Yorktown community remains. Assistant Principal Gail Ridley noted how close she had grown to the class over the past four years, "I always thought it was a very good class. They were a cohesive group, they always held together. I enjoyed working with them very much."
While Yorktown's orchestra played, the graduates rushed outside to the congratulatory hugs of their family and friends. Shedding their caps and gowns in the June heat, the class of 2006 was finally ready to move on beyond the high school experience.