The welcome address of senior class president Bryanna Jones took less than two minutes, but her messages the night of June 14 at Wakefield High School’s graduation ceremony could be long-lasting.
“The last four years at Wakefield were filled with laughter, joy, tears and memories for all of us,” Jones told her fellow seniors. “Just because this chapter of our lives is closing, we will prevail and go on to do great. The thing is, don’t think of this as a ‘goodbye,’ but a ‘see you later.’”
A capacity crowd was on hand inside DAR Constitution Hall in Washington to witness the commencement, which began 10 minutes after the scheduled 8 p.m. start. That caused a bit of restlessness among the 408 graduates waiting in the hallways to enter the main floor. To pass time, they clapped and cheered and chanted the school’s nickname: “Warriors, Warriors, Warriors.”
Wakefield principal Christian Willmore emphasized “responsibility” in going forward when he addressed the graduates.
“I encourage you to do well,” he said. “A positive outlook is everything, and you should choose to do good. I feel confident you are prepared to do so.”
Seniors Meghan Anderson and Holden Anderson – unrelated except as classmates – stood side-by-side at the podium as they shared time reflecting and looking ahead.
“We are now ready to tackle whatever the world throws at us, and you will always have the Wakefield community behind you,” Meghan Anderson said.
Holden Anderson added: “Wakefield is a school that celebrates individuality. Differences unite us and make us stronger as a community. Whatever your opinion is, you have a voice that matters.”
In keeping with tradition, the guest speaker at Wakefield’s graduation was a faculty member chosen by the seniors. English teacher Doug Burns was that pick for the 2018 ceremony.
Burns told the graduates how they make an “amazing” impact on so many lives, especially his own. He called by name some of the seniors who had an effect on his life in specific areas, like courage, selfishness, not taking anything for granted, snacks and how to be a real man.
“I am not here to tell you something you only won’t listen to anyhow,” Burns said. “I am here to thank you for teaching me.”
Burns walked off the stage and onto the floor, where he took a selfie with graduates on each side of the aisle.
The Wakefield concert choir performed, then Willmore began awarding the diplomas to cap off commencement season for Arlington’s three primary public high schools.