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Herndon High Class of 2013 Graduates

Four hundred and eighty-eight seniors graduate at Patriot Center.

Herndon High School seniors receive their diplomas at the Patriot Center Tuesday, June 18.

Herndon High School seniors receive their diplomas at the Patriot Center Tuesday, June 18. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— The 488 members of the Herndon High School Class of 2013 took their final steps as high school students Tuesday, June 18 at the Patriot Center in Fairfax.

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The Herndon High School Class of 2013 celebrates their graduation Tuesday, June 18 at the Patriot Center.

Ellie Shelton, class secretary, recalled the challenges and triumphs that were part of the class’s four-year journey.

“We can all testify to the fears of losing and rebuilding friendships, re-assessing academic strength as well as competing against our classmates, who may have been more talented artists, athletes or writers,” she said. “High school was filled with challenges, but despite the trials, I hope when you look back on high school, you will be pleased with the ways the experiences changed your life.”

The Class of 2013 received more than $3.8 million in local and national scholarship money, a record for Herndon High, which Principal William Bates called “a testament to your hard work and dedication.”

Class Vice President Julia Diaz-Perez said that the Class of 2013’s gift to the school will be water fountains, lighting and other improvements to the school’s stadium, which was recently converted to synthetic turf.

In his student address, Class President Ismael Elhelbawey said what he learned in high school would serve him well later in life.

“I think one of the most important aspects of high school is that it’s so indicative of how spontaneous life really is. Through these four years, we became confident students, with the ability to improvise in any situation,” he said. “Through those countless acts of improvisation, and procrastination, we shaped our high school careers. Classroom lessons from smartboards and textbooks, even [social studies teacher Larry] Stroud’s YouTube videos, pale in comparison to the lessons we learned in the halls, cafeteria, foyer and even the sharp new bathrooms. Moving forward, whether it’s college, working full time, the military, whatever awaits us, improvisation has equipped us to handle virtually every situation.”