Ashburn, VA (June 30, 2015) – Stone Bridge Social Science Department Chair Brian Miller left the Class of 2015 with a wish during their commencement ceremony on Monday, June 15th, at George Mason University’s Patriot Center.
“If you don’t love life, then academic achievement and potential are of no value. It’s the little things in life that really matter. Walking across the stage tonight is a milestone, it’s something you should be proud of. However, I hope you leave Stone Bridge with more than just a piece of paper.
“It is my sense that you will be able to leave with a sense of who you are and an understanding that you are more than just a number. Moreover, I hope you leave Stone Bridge that, while knowing times are tough, it is still possible to love life.”
Miller told the graduates not to get bogged down in life’s little things.
“We sometimes worry so much about the little things that we cannot see the forest for the trees. Life is not a destination, it is a journey. On this journey there will be detours and bumps along the way. However, if we only pay attention to the negative things in life, we will never be able to see all the beauty and opportunities that surround us.
“As a teacher I always try to be positive, make people laugh and try to find the silver lining in every cloud. We cannot change the cards that we have been dealt, but we can decide on how we play our hand. You have a choice in the type of person you are going to be.
“The hand that was dealt to me in early life was not a winning hand by any means. (Miller’s father died when he was 3 in a plane crash and he had a learning disability that made it almost impossible for him to read.)
“With the help of a strong single mother and recognizing my own challenges early on, I decided to dedicate my career to helping students overcome their challenges…Even when it is darkest, light can still shine through. I am fortunate that I love what I do…As a teacher I am able to guide students as they grow, struggle, fail and succeed. This gives me a sense of purpose and pride.
“It is my hope that I have impacted your lives as much as you’ve impacted mine.”
Principal Matthew Wilburn ended his first year in that role.
“As the first graduating class of my tenure as principal, the Class of 2015 will always hold a very special place in my heart. Please know how proud I am to have played a role in your lives. As you move forward, feel confident in yourself as an individual.
“My closing advice to you is simple. In the future, never judge your personal success by material items such as your salary, the model of car you drive or the size of your house. Rather, judge your personal success on the interactions and impact that you have on others. Judge yourself on your skills as a parent, spouse and friend.”
Some facts about the Stone Bridge Class of 2015:
- It had 408 graduates.
- 81 percent received advanced diplomas.
- Members of the class will attend 90 colleges and universities.
- Those post-secondary institutions are located in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
- The Class of 2015 received more than $4 million in scholarships and grants.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams gave the graduates a simple charge: “You matter. You each have unique skills and talents that the world needs…We need you to develop your talents…so that you can join with others to make meaningful contributions to the world.
“Graduating students, I conclude by putting it to you briefly; congratulations, be remarkable.”
The valedictorian for the Class of 2015 was Kelsie Weyer.
“Life is too short to be anything but happy,” Weyer told her classmates. “Hopefully, looking back on these last four years you can be filled with a sense of accomplishment. Hopefully, you can also look forward to the future (having) the courage to embrace your strengths…Learn from your mistakes and never lose faith in the world. Strive for what you believe in and value all that you’ve been taught.
“Always remember, no matter what today brings, you always have tomorrow.”
Hadley Killen was the salutatorian.
Class President Andrew Benvenuto gave the final word to his classmates.
“We don’t have to let these past four years be the best of our lives. It’s up to us to make our future outshine our years of high school…By using our vast experience and knowledge (that) we gained through high school, anything is possible.”
School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn District), Tom Reed (At-Large) and Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run District) attended Stone Bridge’s graduation. Also attending was former Principal Jim Person, who was spotted at the entrance to the Patriot Center’s concourse seven and acknowledged by Wilburn.