Purcellville, VA (June 28, 2015) – Sometimes graduation requires a trip to the attic.
That was the case for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who dug out his varsity tennis letter and graduation cap for Loudoun Valley High School’s commencement exercises on Wednesday, June 17th, in Leonard Stadium.
“The Class of ’79 is doin’ fine!” Herring said as he held his tasseled cap aloft.
He then told the graduates a story of his upbringing near Hamilton that can serve as a metaphor for life.
“I wish I could stand before you today and tell you that your journey into and through adulthood will be smooth and carefree. But you’ll find that, sometimes, life comes at you fast and you’ll have tough choices to make…
“The Loudoun of my youth was a rural county, full of farms, tractors and animals. And back when I was 13 or 14, my family and I scraped together enough money to buy an old quarter horse selling for cheap a few miles down the road from my house. His name was Sundance and he was a really great animal – big, strong and fast, but no one seemed to want him. I soon figured out why.
“Sometimes, he would get a little spooked. Without warning, he would put his ears back, start to buck and take off in a dead run. Not a gallop or a trot, but a full-on sprint that would have given American Pharaoh a run for his money. And he would lower his neck and head, so when I pulled back on the reins, he wouldn’t feel the bit in his mouth. There was no way to stop him.
“Now, let me tell you, this was really scary and probably quite dangerous, especially for a 13- or 14-year-old kid, on a horse that was like a runaway train – on gravel roads, through the woods and under limbs and branches.
“And when it would happen, I would grab on to Sundance’s mane with one hand, put my arm around his neck with the other and, with all of my strength and all of my skill and with all of my heart and determination, I would hold on and ride. I never knew how far I would go or where I would end up. But I never once got off. And I never once got thrown.
“There are going to be times when life seems like it’s moving really fast no matter how hard you pull back on the reigns. For some of you, it might already feel that way…
“Maybe you’ll have to decide whether to take that job offer that’s waiting for you right now. Maybe you’ll have to decide whether to answer a call to serve in our Armed Forces in an uncertain time. Whatever it is, it will happen. Many times.
“But if you remain open to life’s possibilities and seize them when they present themselves, I promise, you’ll end up in the place that’s right for you.”
Principal Susan Ross thanked the Class of 2015 for setting an example of what a Loudoun Valley class should be.
“Your accomplishments are many and you have left your leadership mark on Loudoun Valley. As we bring to a close our 53rd chapter of teaching and learning on this campus, you continue to remind us always to be classy and to carry ourselves with grace…
“Class of 2015, just by being who you are you have raised the bar here. You have raised the level of expectations…for all who will follow in your footsteps.”
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams urged the graduates to form extraordinary teams, as exemplified by Marvel’s Avengers.
“Moving forward, you’ll seek out new teams to become a part of. Those teams may not be like the Avengers. You won’t have to pull lightning from the sky, read minds or turn into a raging green monster. At this point I would point out that changing into a raging green monster is prohibited by School Board Policy §8-59.
“It’s a safe bet to say you won’t be part of a team fighting a world-dominating robot.
“You will, however, be part of teams that defend our country and maintain our economy. Most of you will become the greatest superheroes of all, parents.”
The valedictorian of the Class of 2015 was Anna Broshkevitch with a grade point average (GPA) of 4.72.
“As a class we have come so far and now it’s time for each of us to achieve our own dreams as individuals,” she told her classmates. “We owe it to each other, to every teacher, parent and member of the community who helped us reach where we are today. Most of all, we owe it to ourselves.
“I’ve seen how hard each of you has worked, the passion you have for doing what you love. So I have no doubt you will make every one of your dreams a reality.”
The salutatorian was Robert Fairfax with a GPA of 4.7.
English teacher Wes Dick shared some facts about the Class of 2015:
- The Loudoun Valley Class of 2015 has 288 members.
- 30 percent of the class has a GPA of 4.0 or better.
- 79 percent of the class earned an Advanced Studies Diploma.
- 90 percent of the graduates will go on to post-secondary education.
- The Class of 2015 earned just under $2 million in scholarships and grants.
The top 5 percent of the class academically included Maleeha Ain, Arslan Aziz, Sean Bills, Lauren Brill, Anna Broshkevitch, Lelia Busch, Robert Fairfax, William Finn, Brianna Jennings, Benjamin Kellogg, Sarah Morgan, Noah Mussmon, Roxanne Smith and Gabrielle Wolfe.
School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge District) attended Loudoun Valley’s graduation.