(June 20, 2014) – Loudoun Academy of Science (AOS) Director George Wolfe gave those completing a rigorous course of study some words of heartfelt advice on June 13, 2014.
Sixty-two students received their AOS completion certificates during a ceremony at the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Administrative Offices in Ashburn, Va.
“This is called a commencement, not a graduation; something is starting tonight,” said Wolfe. “This is a beginning for you… This is the beginning of something extra special.”
Wolfe said the members of the Class of 2014 already knew that they’re exceptional; having been told that from a very young age.
“You’re here because of hard work; your hard work and the work of many others. You deserve to be proud… What I wish for you in your continuing lives – that will be successful – I want you to learn to tap into something called ‘humility.’
“I’m not telling you you’re a bunch of stuck-up kids, that’s not what I mean. Humility is something that is crucial to successful living. True humility comes from when you think of everything you have achieved; everything you’ve done, everything you will do, everything you will become (and realize) all those things come not just from you, but from the people around you.
“That’s the beginning of humility; really realizing that – yes, you obviously have some things going for you – but it’s because of people around you.”
Wolfe said the graduates will know they’ve attained humility when they are able to show gratitude and compassion toward others.
“Will you be able to take that gratitude and turn it into an act of compassion? Can you look at someone who is not as fortunate as you… realizing where you come from and push it out to mankind? If you can do that, you are very humble.”
LCPS Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III told the graduates the ceremony they were taking part in marked both an ending and a beginning.
“We are celebrating the accomplishment of the work you have done, but what we’re really celebrating is the future that lies ahead for you and, because of you, the future that lies ahead for so many people.”
That future contains many daunting challenges, Hatrick added.
“We are nowhere near the top of our game as a society, as individuals, in the way that we care about and look after one another. I know you want to cure some of the great problems of the world. I’m confident that you can do it. But I ask you to always, always remember that to whom much is given, much is expected. We have such great expectations for you, such high hopes for what you will do with the learning you already have and that which will come after it. You have the power to change the world; please don’t let it slip through your fingers.
“Humanity really does depend on the best in society to help all the rest of us. You can do that.”
The address to the senior class was presented by Claudia Gutierrez, a member of the AOS Class of 2010, who now attends Drexel University. (As part of a 2-year-old tradition, the AOS class that graduated four years ago returns to the completion ceremony. About 15 members of the Class of 2010 attended the June 13th ceremony.)
“You’re starting a new chapter in your life and it is one AOS has prepared you for in more ways than you can imagine,” said Gutierrez. “I can guarantee when you go to college you will write the best lab reports and that any research lab you want to go into will be dying to have you as a new student…
“AOS has given me, and given you, something most college freshmen don’t have. It’s something I didn’t realize until maybe last year… What AOS has given all of us is a very nurturing environment; to be able to trust ourselves, to pursue any dream we can create. What AOS has given me, and has given you, is confidence.
“I’ve carried this confidence with me the past four years and it’s put me in some pretty incredible places.”
Because of this confidence, Gutierrez said she had traveled to research conferences across America, taken leadership roles at Drexel and completed a scientific internship in Switzerland. She pointed out that her story is not exceptional and that many of her classmates from 2010 were experiencing unique opportunities around the world.
AOS Guidance Director Jayne Fonash reflected on the graduates’ accomplishments.
“Your accomplishments take my breath away, but I am even more proud of the less-tangible skills you have learned here. You have learned to embrace and enjoy opportunities. You have learned to respect the knowledge of everyone you meet. You have learned that failure is merely a stepping stone to great discovery and accomplishment. You have learned, I hope, the balance of confidence and humility.”
This is the ninth year and sixth graduating class for the Academy of Science.
Fonash noted that this year’s graduating class brings to 408 the total number of AOS alumni. Some other facts about the members of the AOS Class of 2014:
- They will attend 23 institutions of higher learning.
- They have received 265 offers of admission from 71 institutions.
- They have been offered $5,469,307 in scholarships.
- They have accepted $2,604,583 in financial aid.
- Their ranks include 12 National Merit Scholarship finalists, one National Achievement Scholarship Finalist and a National Hispanic scholar.
- As a class, they had a mean SAT score of 2148.
School Board members Tom Reed (At-Large) and Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) attended the AOS completion ceremony.