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Highlanders Take Higher Ground

Four hundred and forty-six seniors prepare to take the next step.

After 1,116 days together, the 446 members of McLean High School’s Class of 2010 made the final plunge, as they received their diplomas at DAR Constitution Hall June 17. Larry Michael, the "voice of the Redskins" and father of one of the graduating seniors, served as keynote speaker.

During his speech, Michael quoted recently deceased John Wooden, famed UCLA coach. "It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts," said Michael.

"Every single one of you will have a unique path ahead. This is where this chapter ends, and a new chapter begins tomorrow," Michael said. "Now is the time to figure out what you can do next."

Dr. Deborah Jackson, principal, presented several faculty awards. The first went to Young Joon Cho, for his quick assimilation into the school, despite entering the country only three years before. She spoke of Cho’s numerous academic achievements but noted that they were not the reason he was honored.

"What truly separates this student from others is his innate ability to motivate and inspire others. He devotes himself to those who struggle to get an education," she said. "To say he is a mentor to students is not enough."

Jackson also mentioned Cho’s extensive work with McLean High’s special education program, crediting him with helping the program "come alive, with students believing they can do anything because of his encouragement." Cho’s brother is autistic.

Katherine Peck received the other principal’s award. An avid photographer, Peck also participated in the math team and the school’s track team.

"Civic involvement and education are the focus of her life," Jackson said, mentioning Peck’s work in co-creating a McLean High School chapter of STAND, a student-led anti-genocide group.

Senior Class Officer Vanessa Bretas gave the Class of 2010 farewell address. In it she credited the seniors for their work inside and outside of the classroom.

"McLean didn’t wait a single day after the earthquake in Haiti before they began efforts to raise funds," she said. "They didn’t waste any time after they learned of the genocide happening in Sudan and other parts of the world before they joined together to fight it."