Flint Hill graduation 2019

Maddie Chiarolanzio, Bonae Swain-Price Jr, Ethan Jones, Tre Mongo and Hanna Zobair prepare for Flint Hill School graduation ceremonies on June 7, 2019, at the school. (Photo by Dave Facinoli)

Plenty of advice was given and reflections voiced the morning of June 7 at Flint Hill School’s 59th graduation ceremony, held on the campus of the Oakton private school.

“What four years taught me at Flint Hill was how I learned to step out of my comfort zone,” said salutatorian Shuhan Zhang.

Kathleen Boyce received commencement awards for top valedictorian and scholar-athlete.

“I can’t believe in a matter of minutes we will be former Flint Hill students,” Boyce said. “Looking back on four years, I wondered if I would be good enough, smart enough, cool enough. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish now. Thanks for some great memories. We made it.”

Zhang and Boyce were two of 151 graduates, the largest commencement class in the history of the school, at a ceremony in the standing-room-only Flint Hill gym, which began at 10 a.m. sharp with the traditional four rings of a bell. The rings represented the school’s four core values: respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion.

Many of the seniors will attend state colleges, including 14 going to Virginia Tech, 11 to James Madison University, seven to the College of William and Mary and five to George Mason University.

Six of the seniors had attended Flint Hill since junior kindergarten, totaling 14 years. Another 20 were 12-year students. A half-dozen sets of twins were among the graduates.

Flint Hill headmaster John Thomas welcomed the graduates and gave a snapshot of some of their accomplishments.

“We have a sign in our garden that says, ‘Go big or go home.’ This is big,” Thomas said.

He mentioned that among the seniors were Eagle Scouts, classical dancers, equestrians, business owners, actors and actresses, a Guinness World Record holder and a senior who collects rubber ducks. Thomas also discussed the many athletic achievements in which the seniors were participants.

“Don’t let anyone hold you back,” Thomas said.

Mardieh Dennis, a 2005 Flint Hill graduate who has spent time in countries around the world working to improve health systems and increasing access to essential health services, was the guest speaker.

Since January, Dennis has been in Liberia working for the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents.

“As you prepare for your new phase, you may feel overwhelmed,” Dennis said. “I encourage you to constantly challenge yourself and take meaningful risks and try new experiments. Try new activities. Join clubs, get involved in community service and get to know people of other backgrounds.”

Thomas also announced the student commencement awards that went to Tre Mongo (Edwin M. Ward Leadership Prize) and Toi Howard (John T. Hazel Jr. Award).

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