Excitement, joy, and a sense of accomplishment was in the air during the graduation ceremony of 78 students from Mountain View High School on June 15.
KNOWN AS THE SCHOOL of second chances, Mountain View is a diverse school with students from dozens of countries who speak different languages.
Emigrating to the U.S. at the age of 19 from the Dominican Republic, Edward Sanchez wanted to learn English and earn his high school diploma. He was sent to Mountain View to make that dream possible, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006.
All the while, he was a holding down two part-time jobs, starting at 6 a.m. as a custodian at a local elementary school, leaving at 2 p.m. and working at a car garage, then arriving home at 11 p.m. where he worked on homework before sleep.
He not only had time for two part-time jobs and school, but he was always available for friends and family, and was loved by all his teachers.
“Mountain View, thank you for changing my life and for bringing me out of the darkness," said Edward during his speech. "I love you and thank you.”
Edward won the school's Faculty Award, and plans on attending Northern Virginia Community College. His goal is to earn a four-year degree in computer science.
SOUKANYA THAMMASITH enrolled at Mountain View in the fall of 2003. Originally from Laos, Soukanya described in an essay how she first felt when she came to the school.
“I didn’t know English at all, I was scared,” she said.
She armed herself with determination and a positive attitude, taught herself English, never missed school, and she always turned in her homework.
She studied on weekends and prepared vigorously for the SOLs, which she passed with flying colors. She also found the time to work at a department store for three years, play on the volleyball team and help start the group called Chat n’ Chew, which met weekly to polish English-speaking skills.
Soukanya managed to do all of this all the while holding a 3.6 GPA and caring for her aunt, who sadly passed away last year. For her accomplishments, Soukanya won the school's Faculty Award.
ANOTHER RECIPIENT of the Faculty Award was Matthew Wang who was presented the award by government teacher Art Stefan. The two first met in U.S./Virginia government class where Wang excelled.
“His thirst for knowledge demonstrates integrity, leadership, and excellence,” said Stefan.
One of his teachers read an excerpt from an essay he wrote: “Mountain View High School is one of the best things to happen to me. I made friends quickly, in a warm and welcoming environment. I am able to attend college this summer and get ahead.”
Matthew will be attending George Mason University this summer where he will study science and math. He called his Mountain View experience, "The best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m really happy, I finally made it. I don’t have words to express myself.”