Stone Bridge High School bade farewell to its only principal, Jim Person, at commencement exercises June 16, at George Mason’s Patriot Center.
Person has been the “Head Bulldog” since Stone Bridge opened its doors in 2000.
“Through his years at Stone Bridge, we have watched Jim set the bar high and get the most out of his teachers and school staff,” said Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Deputy Superintendent Ned Waterhouse. “His engaging and genuine way of interacting with students encouraged them to look beyond what they were doing and ask themselves ‘What more can I do?’ Jim is a capable and serious professional educator in every sense. But I believe it is his values and personal qualities that make people want to follow his leadership and join in his vision.”
Person had some parting advice for the graduates.
“Be true to yourselves. Know that persistence pays off. Find joy in life’s little pleasures. No matter how bad the day may be, the sun will come out tomorrow; if not tomorrow, maybe the next day. Know that your dog will always be there for you, as will your true friends…
“I’m honored, proud and flattered to go out with the Class of 2014.”
Class President Che’Maiah Francis called Person “the most special graduate” of the Class of 2014. “I’m 99 percent positive that he’s retiring because he knows students don’t get any better than us.”
Person has been employed by LCPS since 1978. At the end of the ceremony, the Class of 2014 presented Person with a piggy bank with which to start his retirement fund.
Band Director David Keller and social science teacher Allison Alison, both winners of the Agnes Meyer Award as Loudoun’s outstanding teacher, gave the commencement address.
“Does success mean fame, fortune, or having the perfect life everyone envies?” asked Keller. “Maybe…or maybe not. You need to pick the goals and standards that are important to you and endeavor to achieve or accomplish those personal goals. At that point, you will be successful. If you only pursue the standards set by others, you might miss the chance to be happy and feel complete. Be careful, however, you still have to function within the overall framework of life. Telling you that you measure your own success is not carte blanche to do whatever you want without regard for anyone else or how others perceive you.”
“We have all heard the golden rule ‘Treat others how you want to be treated,’ ” said Alison. “But it’s important to really remember this as you go into this next chapter of your life. You will be meeting new people and it’s so crucial to bear in mind that each one of them has a gift to offer. The world is our classroom and we are all teachers. As you treat others, you treat yourself. Be your best with everyone you encounter and it will make you a better person.”
Valedictorian Nicolas Freeman addressed his fellow graduates about the collective path they have taken.
“The past is not fleeting. It resonates within our schools as indicators of our journey; each of our hopes guided by those around us… Take notes from those persons who have stepped along with you. Take time to reflect on where you would have been if you were not helped by them.”
Samantha Stafford was the salutatorian.
Class of 2014 vice presidents Megan Bryn and Elisabeth Kern presented some facts about the graduates:
- 456 Bulldogs were in the Class of 2014.
- They earned a school-record $5.8 million in scholarships.
- 73 percent will attend a four-year college.
- 23 percent will attend a two-year college.
- 2 percent will join the Armed Forces.
Kern and Bryn added their best wishes for Person near the close of their address.
“We are incredibly honored to graduate alongside Mr. Person this year, and although he received his diploma a long time ago, we hope we’ve left as much of an impact on him as he has left on Stone Bridge, the thousands of students along the way, and especially our class,” said Kern.
“Because of his outstanding leadership since its humble beginning, today Stone Bridge is an exemplary school for the entire county,” added Bryn.
As is tradition at Stone Bridge’s graduation, the chorus sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Graduate Taylor Whitlock performed the senior song, “Whenever You Remember.”
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn District) and members Tom Reed (At-Large) and Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run District) attended the Stone Bridge graduation. Hornberger’s daughter, Anna Marie, was among those receiving diplomas.