History teacher Dylan Wedan was ready with a “High Five” for all students as they rose en route to receiving their McLean High School diplomas.
Four hundred ninety-seven McLean High School seniors graduated Monday, June 20, at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
“We made it,” said Addie Wilkerson, Class of 2016’s student speaker.
Although she said she likes that cliche, Wilkerson also delivered a thought-provoking discussion of the achievements they made as a class together, with words of distinctly her own. “Embrace differences and allow them to change your perspective,” she said.
Lessons gained at McLean High School will serve valuable forever.
“You have learned your voice, you have learned what it is like to be driven by a cause,” said Wilkerson. “Never ever be tricked into thinking your voice is too small.”
MOMENTS BEFORE, Dr. Michael Vickers, former under secretary of defense for intelligence, gave a speech of his own.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” said Vickers, actually a Langley High School parent, who also served in the CIA.
He talked of his Special Forces training in becoming a Green Beret. Trainees were given the option of ringing a bell to signalize that they had had enough.
“It is okay to fail,” he said, “but never ever give up on something that you wanted to perform.”
“Never ring that bell,” he said.
But be ready to shift to ‘Plan B, when necessary, he said, giving historical context to the messages he gave.
“Dreaming the impossible dream is what it takes to change the world,” he said.
When Vickers retired last year, the New York Times noted that he “participated in virtually every significant global crisis of the past four decades, either as a supporting player or just as often cast in a starring, if uncredited, role.”
DURING THE TWO-HOUR commencement, Chris Weise conducted the McLean Band, which performed Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” No. 1, Op. 39.
Frederick Paul Zwirb, the last in the alphabet, received a standing ovation as graduates got ready to turn their tassels and let their graduate caps fly.
Linda Martin conducted The McLean Madrigals, featuring two graduates, in a heavenly performance.
And Principal Ellen Reilly announced the Faculty’s choice for male and female outstanding students:
Matthew Burch Steelberg. “He makes learning for himself and for others fun,” teachers said.
And Susie Choi Choi who earned recognition for taking every A.P. class offered at McLean High School and for being a “modern day Renaissance woman.” But what makes her “so endearing,” said teachers, is “her passion for helping others.”
JOYCE AND JOE DeMarino travelled from Texas to watch their granddaughter, Destiny Dawn DeMarino, walk the stage.
“We’re so proud of you, Des,” said Joyce DeMarino.
Joe DeMarino called Destiny his “grandangel.”
“Follow your dreams,” he said.