Heritage High School Principal Jeff Adam welcomed the members of the Class of 2014, their families and friends to the Pride’s 11th graduation exercise June 15.
Adam commented on how beautiful the weather was for the evening, not a cloud in sky. He laughingly related that he had awakened in the morning from a nightmare. He dreamed that he had received a call from Wayde Byard, the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) public information officer saying that the day’s activities had been cancelled for inclement weather. Adam drew laughter from the crowd when he said he rushed to check the weather forecast to confirm it was just a dream.
Adam went on to compliment the Class of 2014 for its character, enthusiasm, humor and determination to succeed. “You celebrate each other’s accomplishments, you hold each other up on bad days and you exemplify individuals coming together to make something greater…as the saying goes ‘E Pluribus Unum – Out Of Many, One.’
“Tonight we will award 252 diplomas, 188 of which will be Advanced Studies diplomas. Ninety-five percent of you will be headed to college or some other educational opportunities next year. Ladies and gentlemen, as of (June 9th) you have earned almost $2.5 million dollars in scholarships and grants for colleges. I congratulate you on your outstanding accomplishments. ”
Adam led the Class of 2014 in first recognizing and acknowledging the support and tireless effort of the Heritage faculty and staff in preparing them for the future. He then asked the graduates to stand and applaud their families for their love, support and guidance during their school careers.
Adam presented awards to Jasmine Malhi as valedictorian and Arianna Laghaeian as salutatorian of the Class of 2014. Malhi, who earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) for a 4.65, will attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall. Laghaeian achieved a GPA of 4.64 and will attend the University of Virginia.
Nailah Phillips, president of the Class of 2014, thanked the class’ parents and faculty of their support in helping get the graduates to this point. “This point, which most of us look at as the end, is not the end but just a beginning … there is not clear, easy route. When you fall, realize there is hope. Promise me that you will always remember there is hope.”
Malhi, also thanked the parents of the Class of 2014 and Heritage’s faculty and staff for helping the class grow from freshmen to the adults they have become. “We have all changed a lot. This day is courtesy of our teachers who have encouraged us to improve and challenged us to think in unique ways. This day is courtesy of our parents who have put up with a lot of long nights. This day is courtesy of our friends who have stuck with us through our ups and downs through these four years of high school. These people have encouraged us to change and because of them we are ready to take on the world.”
Malhi concluded her remarks with a challenge to her classmates. “Continue to change and embrace all the changes into your life because what joy is there in being stagnant?”
LCPS Superintendent Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick III addressed the graduates as their keynote speaker. Hatrick started his remarks by commenting that he was honored to be asked to speak at the graduation, but that he knew what was really important so he promised his remarks would be brief. He noted that he had been attending commencement exercises for 48 years and that he loved teaching seniors. “I think you are special people as you are in transition from your high school years to your adult years. The first seniors I taught are now drawing Social Security… so there has been a lot of experience along the way and, no, I will not try to share it all with you.”
Hatrick drew a big round of applause for his next comments. “You have had a pretty good year senior year. Fourteen snow days ties a record. I’m kind of a part the class of 2014 (Hatrick is retiring on July 1st after more than 47 years working for the school system) and so when it was a close call on whether to cancel or not I thought I would look out after my fellow classmates … I know you love the voice of Wayde Byard, but if it were up to Wayde alone you wouldn’t have gotten the word. The person who really gets the word out is Wayde’s administrative assistant, Mrs. Kim Goodlin, who is the mother of one of your classmates, Nathan Goodlin.
“There is one thing true about all graduation speakers, they all think they have something important to say and, without fail, nobody ever remembers afterwards what they said that they thought was so important… So I tried to think what I could say to you that you would remember. How about your name? Does everybody here remember you name? Do you think you will continue to know your name? If you have got that part you have got the most important part of what I’m going to say.”
Hatrick went on to say that a person’s name is symbolic of who they are. Everyone accumulates both good and bad to their name. “Every one of you has the potential for your name to be honored and remembered… I want you to promise that you will make your name something that will be remembered for two things, kindness and love. “
Hatrick concluded his remarks by asking the graduates to do one more thing. “You have had a remarkable opportunity to receive a first-class public education here in Loudoun County. I want you to commit that you will take your name into the future wherever you go and put it behind making sure that young people will have the same opportunity as you have had. Give back more than you take. The world will be better for what you have done. ”
School Board member Bill Fox (Leesburg District) attended Heritage’s graduation.