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Cougars Take Next Step

Oakton Class of 2007 hears lessons of social responsibility at graduation ceremony.

Burgundy caps and gowns adorned George Mason University’s Patriot Center on Thursday night, and beach balls floated above them, as more than 500 Oakton seniors said farewell to four years in high school.

"Class of 2007, we made it, and we made it look easy," said Michelle Casullo, addressing her classmates at the school’s graduation ceremony.

Principal John Banbury said there was a range of emotions, from bewilderment and anticipation to outright joy, present during the ceremony. As the students take their next steps in life, Banbury suggested that integrity is what really matters. "If you have that, you have everything. If you lose it, you have nothing," said Banbury.

Class president Kimberly Chuday reflected on the four years at Oakton, remembering how students tried to stay ahead of school administrators and their rules. "Students worked overtime to figure out internet proxies the administration hadn’t blocked yet, so we can still check our Facebook," said Chuday. She also reminded fellow classmates to put things into perspective as they go on with their lives. "At one point we thought getting rejected from colleges was the worst thing that could happen, and then tragedy struck close to home," said Chuday, referring to the April 16 massacre at Virginia Tech.

For many students, graduate Deborah You said, graduation was the moment they had been dreaming off since first stepping foot at Oakton. Now, they are ready to leave it behind. "While it’s frightening to think of the future, it’s exciting at the same time," she said.

GUEST SPEAKER, former Washington Redskins star Darrell Green, chose to speak about social responsibility. He said the students’ parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors expected them to be socially responsible as they enter adult life. Green is the CEO of the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation. He said the nation needed the Cougars, not just to fight wars, but to fight homelessness, child abuse and other problems affecting it. "There is no generation greater than this one, no people more prepared to lead the way than the 2007 class of Oakton Cougars," he said.

"In the age of MySpace, make some space in your space for someone less fortunate than you," said Green.

One of the graduates who exhibited the behavior Green spoke about throughout high school was Morgan Linski. For her achievements in high school, Linski was presented with this year’s Faculty Award. "She selflessly and generously contributed to Oakton High School," said Banbury in presenting the award.

Casullo announced the Class of 2007 class gift to Oakton High School, a digital marquee. She described it as a modern communications tool to keep the students, staff and community informed about events at Oakton.