This is the second part of a Viva Loudoun 18-part Graduation 2013 series with a detailed look at the graduations at all the Loudoun County Public Schools high schools and programs.
(June 29, 2013) – Retiring English Department Chair Jo Ann Pearson was tempted to give the Broad Run High School Class of 2013 one last lesson on Sunday, June 9. (Read more about Pearson’s career at Broad Run here)
“I really wanted to start tonight with one last, short grammar lesson,” she told the 426 graduates gathered at George Mason University’s Patriot Center. “Maybe the one about not beginning sentences with the pronoun ‘me.’ But tonight, it’s not about me, it’s about you…
“Sometimes in the last four years when you thought it was all about you, it really wasn’t; but tonight it is. Tonight you are leaving Broad Run, but you are joining a very special group. Tonight you become alumni of Broad Run High School.”
Pearson is the last faculty member left from Broad Run’s first year (1969-70). In introducing Pearson, Valedictorian Arjun Sastry estimated Pearson had spent 7,920 days and 63,360 hours at Broad Run.
“Every year since it opened, Mrs. Pearson has been a staple of Broad Run High School. Over this time she has been the paragon of consistency, dedication and commitment to her students.”
Pearson told the graduates the Broad Run she came to was much different than the new high schools Loudoun opens today. “We didn’t open with all the amenities and facilities new high schools have today… We still don’t have a lot of those amenities at Broad Run. We have no wide, spacious hallways. We have no multiple computer labs. We have no (synthetic) turf athletic fields and we have no expansive parking lots.
“But those are not the important things. It’s the people who have made Broad Run a very special place. It’s that Spartan spirit that has carried us through good and bad. You now join that group of alumni who chose to take that spirit out into the world.
“I have received numerous messages from alumni in the past few weeks and they almost all say exactly the same thing: ‘I haven’t been back to Ashburn in a very long time, but I am still a Spartan at heart. I take the lessons I learned there and I use them in my everyday life.’ Now it’s your turn to do the same thing.
“Many things have changed since that first class graduated and things will change after you graduate, but there are lessons that will stay with you. They’re not the grammar lessons; they’re not the math lessons; they’re life lessons.”
Pearson then gave the graduates some practical advice.
“Show up every day and do the work, it’s as simple as that. I imagine some students who are not here with you tonight wish they had done that. This principal applies to everything you do, your future education, the military, a job, your family. It sets a habit and lets people know that you are dependable. Remember, no one owes you anything…
“It’s all up to you now, to show up and do the work…
“Learn from your mistakes. You will make them; we all make them.”
Pearson said she once trusted National Honor Society students to count diploma covers before a graduation “Apparently those National Honor Society students weren’t very good at counting.” (There turned out to be more graduates than diploma covers.) “You can rest assured for every graduation after that I personally counted and recounted those diploma covers…
“Some mistakes are worse than others, but don’t make it worse than it is. There is always someone willing to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Don’t be afraid to give help if someone else needs it.” One bit of Pearson’s advice consisted of one word: “Vote.”
“Pay attention to elections, not just national elections, but your local elections… Voter apathy is appalling in local elections and these people are the ones who make decisions that directly impact you on a daily basis.” Taking the time to tell someone you care about them also was on Pearson’s list.
“Support the people you care about. Tell them that you care about them. You never know what tomorrow holds… Make sure those you care about know that you care. This is not just your family and your friends, but the people you work with, the people you see every day; those people who do things for you. Don’t find yourself wishing that you had said something when it’s too late.”
Of all her graduating classes, Pearson said this one was a bit different, yet the same as the 44 that preceded it. “You are one of the first classes to be tested constantly since you were in elementary school, but now comes the big test. What will you do next?
“The roads from Broad Run lead in all directions, but the one constant you will always have is your Spartan spirit. Use it to your advantage, it’s a powerful force. I have seen that over and over and over again.” In conclusion, Pearson couldn’t resist giving one last lesson.
“And remember; never use ‘me’ as a subject.”
Clayton Shepherd gave the Senior Address, which departed a bit from the common advice given at graduation. “I challenge you to stick with the status quo.”
Shepherd explained this advice.
“By graduating from Broad Run High School today and walking across that stage…you are succeeding. Is this piece of paper your shining achievement as you look back on life 40 years from now? No. But it’s the beginning of a trend; a trend of success… Make today and this feeling of optimism and success shining in every one of your smiles an everlasting trend.
“Allow yourself to grow as a person through your successes, against a background of hard work and well-deserved accomplishments…
“Make each day and each goal in your life a new diploma… If you roll out of bed every morning with the same smile of optimism I see on your faces… there’s not a single doubt in my mind that you will reach whatever your personal definition of success is.”
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III built his remarks around words that began with the letter “p.”
“It’s persistence that got you where you are tonight and it is persistence that will get you where you want to be in the future. Add to that possibility; your possibility, the possibility of those around you as the world opens up before you.
“Once you realize there’s nothing you can’t achieve – and please don’t ever tell yourself there’s something you can’t achieve – once you realize that, if you have the persistence to work on that possibility, it can become your reality.”
Passion is something Hatrick said the graduates must find in their life.
“Find your passion, pursue your passion, be persistent about your passion and learn from people who have found their passion and model it for the rest of us. Every one of us can grow. We’re never finished growing. Once you finish growing, it’s like when you finish learning, life is over.”
Principal Doug Anderson spoke about the paths that led the graduates to sit before him.
“For some of you, your path here was nice, neat and straight. Others had a few twists and turns in your path… For some of you there were curves, loop-de-loops and setbacks. But guess what? You are all here. You will all graduate. This is a lesson in life; we don’t all take the same path, but no matter your path we can all make it to our destination, our goal.”
Shivangi Mistry was salutatorian for the Class of 2013, which earned $2,113,662 in scholarships. The top 5 percent of the class academically included:
- Erin Deutsch
- Judy Pan
- Zachary Stoller
- Samantha Bergeron
- Olivia Lacny
- Emily Votroubek
- Kristen Lepe
- David Thompson
- Thomas Soroka
- Clara Sartor
- Zachary Ackerman
- Alyssa Carr
- Alison Mabery
- Nathaniel Clemens
- Allison Moser
- Ellen Ferguson
- Kimberlin Ewen
- Abigail Pullen
- Nairuti Shastry
- Sydney Mabery
- Shivangi Mistry
- Arjun Sastry
The Faculty Scholarship was awarded to Amy Stone.
The faculty Triple I Award (innovation, instruction and impact) went to Jo Habibi, William “Bram” Smith and Eileen Hough.
Nathaniel Clemens performed “This Is the Moment” as the Senior Musical Presentation.
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger attended the Broad Run graduation.
Viva Loudoun Graduation 2013 Series
Today: Broad Run
June 28: Briar Woods
Article and photo courtesy Loudoun County Public Schools