Leesburg, VA (June 26, 2015) – Heritage High School Principal Jeff Adam welcomed the members of the Class of 2015, their families and friends to the Pride’s 12th graduation exercise on Tuesday, June 16th.
The Heritage gymnasium was packed with smiling and excited graduates and their guests.
Adam commended the Class of 2015 on their accomplishments. “This has been quite a year for the Class of 2015. You all have amongst you a National Merit Scholarship finalist and a National Hispanic scholar, Cappies Award winners…and All-State team members to name just a few of the accolades of the students of this class. You have shown yourself dedicated to making your community a better place. You set a high bar for the Heritage students who are here now and who will be members of the Pride in the future.
“Tonight we will award 295 diplomas, 211 of which will be Advanced Studies diplomas. Ninety-two percent of you will be headed to college or some other educational opportunities next year. Ladies and gentlemen, as of (June 15th) you have earned almost $2.8 million dollars in scholarships and grants for colleges. Accept my congratulations for your accomplishments. ”
The Heritage seniors, at Adam’s request, recognized the Heritage faculty for their tireless work in preparing the seniors for the future. Adam also led the seniors in recognizing the role of their parents and families. “Parents we thank you for the many years of love, support and guidance you have shown these seniors throughout their school experience.”
Adam presented awards to Thomas “T.J.” Sample as valedictorian and Brennan Wright as salutatorian of the Class of 2015. Sample, who earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 4.63, will attend the University of Virginia in the fall. Wright achieved a GPA of 4.61 and will attend the University of Pittsburgh.
Sample began his address by leading his classmates in thanking those people who had helped them over the past four years. He urged the graduates to not “procrastinate on life …life’s too short to miss even a second of the present”.
He also urged them to “live their lives with passion and not fear change but to embrace it”. In conclusion, Sample quoted Kanye West, “If you have the opportunity to play this game of life you need to appreciate every moment. A lot of people don’t appreciate the moment until it’s passed.”
Warren Sloop, the president of the Class of 2015 urged his fellow graduates to embrace change in their lives. “Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things could get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things could get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.
“And I think we can change the world … our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Wright introduced the pated featured speaker of the evening Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Public Information Officer Wayde Byard. He offered the graduates some “bits of wisdom designed to help you later in life” laced with humor.
He started by telling the graduates to “stop taking selfies… Selfies reflect only a moment in time – a fleeting, staged moment – that is soon gone and probably best forgotten. Devote your energies to things that are more long-lasting and impactful.”
Byard drew a round of laughter when he also asked the graduates to stop taking selfies with him. “I’m beginning to feel like the “Where’s Waldo” of the 21st century. Wayde’s at Heritage, he’s at Park View, he’s at Harper Park…Fortunately, I usually know where I am”. He also remained the graduates, “no sexting”.
He then turned to giving the graduates “some positive advice”.
“First, get a weird job. It will provide you with unique experiences…
“When you go to a concert, always go for the opening act. When you’re onstage in front of an indifferent audience… you need some love. Remember, at some point, we’re all the opening act…
“There are two jobs you should have in this life: janitor and waiter… Being a janitor and cleaning up the leftovers of life will teach you humility; something that will serve you well. Being a waiter will teach you tolerance and empathy. Always remember what it’s like to serve.
“If you get a chance to live overseas, do it. You’ll learn a perspective by looking through a cultural lens other than the one you’ve been raised with…
“Maintain a sense of wonder…
“Always take part in charitable endeavors. By doing this, you’ll learn to be selfless and, at the same time, have a heightened awareness of your true and best self…
“Have a foolish dream and invest yourself fully in it… foolish dreamers all have one thing in common; a passion for what they do.”
Byard concluded his remarks with a suggestion on how to deal with life’s pitfalls. “All situations in life do not have a Hollywood ending. Trust your heart. Always trust your heart.” The graduates responded to Byard’s remarks by offering him a standing ovation.
Attending the Heritage graduation were School Board members Tom Reed (At-Large) and Bill Fox (Leesburg District).