Loudoun County, Va. (August 25, 2014) – The first high school graduation as Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) superintendent for Dr. Eric Williams was the last of the 2013-14 school year.
Fifteen students were eligible to take part in the Summer Commencement on August 1, 2014, in the Heritage High School auditorium.
“You have each overcome a variety of obstacles in earning a high school diploma,” said Williams. “When you face future challenges this accomplishment, your graduation, can serve as a reminder to never give up.”
Williams told the graduates the story of his maternal grandfather; one that he thinks of as a living example of persistence and its rewards. The commander of a tank battalion during World War II, Williams’ grandfather was captured in North Africa and transferred to a prisoner of war camp in Italy. He managed to escape by jumping off a train.
“The problem was that he was free from his captors, but he was behind enemy lines… Amazingly, he lived behind enemy lines for more than a year trying to make his way to one of the fronts.”
Some Italian families took him in; giving him food and a place to hide.
“I share this story because his resourcefulness is an incredible inspiration to me. He was obviously in a very challenging situation, to say the least, but he didn’t throw in the towel.
“Sometimes we may think we’re in difficult situations, but when I think of the difficulties my grandfather faced it really puts things into context.
“Just as you have persisted in order to graduate from high school; obviously this story is one of persistence.
“I also want to emphasize it wasn’t just my grandfather who led to his success. He made it to a safe area because of a lot of assistance that he received from others, particularly the Italian families who put him up and shared food with him even though that was a risk for them.
“Graduates, in working toward a high school diploma, you’ve obviously received support from both educators and family members… While my grandfather has been an inspiration to me for years, you’re also inspiring. I commend you for not giving up.”
Representing LCPS high schools at the graduation were Briar Woods High School Principal Ed Starzenski, Broad Run High School Principal David Spage, John Champe High School Assistant Principal Jennifer Traina, Dominion High School Principal Dr. John Brewer, Freedom High School Counseling Director Kenneth Christopher, Heritage High School Principal Jeff Adam, Loudoun County High School Principal Dr. Michelle Luttrell, Loudoun Valley High School Assistant Principal Vicki Dorsey, Park View High School Principal Kirk Dolson, Potomac Falls High School Assistant Principal Jarvis Weeks, Riverside High School Principal Doug Anderson, Rock Ridge High School Principal John Duellman, Stone Bridge High School Principal Matt Wilburn and Tuscarora Principal Pam Jacobs.
At-Large School Board member Tom Reed also attended the Summer School Graduation.