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Oakton Graduates Urged to Question

Oakton High School seniors received diplomas on Tuesday.

Max Harrison is all smiles holding his freshly minted Oakton High School diploma during the June 19 graduation ceremony held at the George Mason University Patriot Center.

Max Harrison is all smiles holding his freshly minted Oakton High School diploma during the June 19 graduation ceremony held at the George Mason University Patriot Center. Photo by Deb Cobb.

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Alexandra Smith waves to her family as she enters her Oakton High School graduation ceremony, held at the George Mason University Patriot Center on June 19.

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Ankit Gulati, President of the Oakton High School Class of 2012 welcomes his classmates, school administrators and faculty, guests and the hundreds of family members who attended the school’s June 19 graduation ceremony at the George Mason University Patriot Center.

The Patriot Center filled with families and friends on Tuesday, June 19, each seeking out the best vantage point from which to watch their children, siblings, and friends graduate from Oakton High School. The burgundy caps and gowns started to file in at precisely 7:30 p.m. to the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance," staring at the stage as they took their seats.

Of the 576 graduating seniors, 111 were "Honor Graduates," or students who finished their first seven semesters with over a 4.0 GPA. Among her peers, Sarah Smith was chosen to receive the Faculty Award for her contributions to the Oakton community as well as personal integrity. As they readied themselves for the next step, the graduates listened to the reflections and advice of a few chosen speakers.

"We can get old, lose our canvas or our books," student speaker Gabrielle Ruth Tate reminded her peers. "But our knowledge will always be with us." Some of her audience nodded, others stayed staring in rapt attention. "The difference between freshmen and graduates of Oakton," she said, "is what’s in your head, and in your heart."

Guest speaker Richard Wormeli, a National Board Certified Teacher, award winning author and father of graduate Lynn Wormeli, gave his advice in an interesting and grounded speech. "You need to know how to question," he said. "Do things that scare you." His speech brought many laughs from crowd and graduates alike, and many more understanding smiles. He left them with the words: "You are the legacy of Oakton High School—be worthy of it, and enjoy the ride."