- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Some 2,200 teens turned their tassels to the left Monday and Tuesday as Charles County Public Schools recognized the graduating class of 2012.
“It seems like yesterday she was graduating from kindergarten,” Wanda Cave of La Plata said about her daughter, Amanda Walter, 17.
Cave parked herself at the top of the entrance ramp to the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro waiting for the La Plata High School graduates to line up in order to get a picture of Amanda and her friends.
La Plata, Henry E. Lackey, Thomas Stone, Westlake and Maurice J. McDonough high schools held ceremonies at the arena Monday and Tuesday while North Point held its graduation ceremony at the school’s convocation center Tuesday evening.
Tiskisha Robinson, 17, received a completion certificate Tuesday from Lackey.
Having completed the life skills program at Lackey, Robinson said she is continuing to the Adult Independent Program at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center.
She said Tuesday that she was excited for graduation as she was going “to walk and get some awards.”
Hundreds of proud parents, guardians, family and friends filled the arena and the auditorium at North Point earlier this week awaiting their graduate’s walk across the stage and handshakes with school officials, symbolizing that they officially were high school graduates.
“I’m so proud of him. … I know he is going to do great things,” said Michele Corley, mother of Lackey graduate Ryan Thomas, 18.
Joseph Butler of Middlesex, N.C., said he was very proud of his granddaughter, Lackey graduate Asya Young, 18.
“I remember the day she was born. It doesn’t seem like she is 18 to me,” Butler said.
Joyce and Ron Heath of La Plata were proud of their grandson, Ron Heath III, 18. Joyce Heath said she was excited to see her grandson graduate from the same high school La Plata that she attended.
Student speakers at each of the graduations spoke of the future.
La Plata valedictorian Raleigh Joyner, 18, told his class that it was difficult to give advice.
“I’m just as petrified and anxious as most of you are,” he said.
Joyner said the class of 2012 is no longer safe within the protection of high school.
Graduates now have to find their own way “in this vast and unpredictable universe.”
Student speakers reminisced over the past four years talking of friends made and lessons learned such as “seniors aren’t as scary as we thought they were freshman year,” said Lackey class president Jehnae Linkins, 18.
Speakers also thanked, on behalf of the class, all who have helped along the way.
Erica Richardson, 18, valedictorian for McDonough, asked the audience and school staff to look around at the graduates.
“What’s amazing right now, as I look out at all of my classmates waiting so patiently for their high school diplomas, is that for the first time in a long time we’re not texting, or typing on a laptop, or taking pictures with our cellphones,” she said.
Richardson said the graduates all were sitting together and they all were living in the moment and saying, rather than electronically communicating, the words “thank you” to all who helped them.
Valedictorian Emily Macri, 18, of Lackey encouraged graduates to keep growing as people.
“We all have so much more room to grow, so many things to accomplish. This is only the beginning,” she said.
Two schools took time to remember students who died prior to graduation day: Katie Murray of La Plata High School, who died in a car accident last year, and Juwuan Michael Stewart, who died in a car accident earlier this year.
Lackey Vice Principal Glenn Jones said Stewart is a source of inspiration and peace and that his spirit is alive at Lackey.
La Plata Principal Evelyn Arnold, while speaking of graduation being bittersweet for graduates, mentioned Murray’s death and how the student body was able to adapt and persevere through the difficult time.
A chair was set aside Tuesday in Murray’s honor.
Family and friends came from all around to see their loved ones graduate and for some families of North Point graduates the importance of getting a good seat in the convocation center meant getting in line at the school more than five hours before the ceremony began.
Bridget Stewart of Waldorf got to the school at 1:30 p.m. the afternoon of the 7 p.m. ceremony to be first in line to get a seat at graduation to see her daughter, Nika Stewart, 18, walk across the stage.
Stewart said she was very excited to see her “first and only” graduate get her diploma.
Waiting in line for hours to get a good seat was worth it to “make sure we get a good shot of her.”
Second in line of the hundreds lined up outside of the doors of North Point was an equally excited Kim Davis awaiting a good seat to see her son, Aaron Maxwell, 17, graduate.
“I’m so proud of him,” she said.
For many graduates, being through with high school hasn’t set in.
“It hasn’t hit me quite yet. Maybe it will in a week, maybe at the end of the summer. I’m not entirely sure,” said North Point graduate Connor Roberts, 17, of the feeling of not having any responsibilities such as studying for tests or preparing essays.
Until college starts, Connor said he can focus on a summer job and rest. For North Point graduate Skyler Rowe, 18, while she was honored to be graduating with her North Point family, the feeling of her high school time coming to an end hasn’t sunk in.
Rowe said she would miss her friends and the school spirit that she said was really big at North Point.
Through six separate graduations, many of the same sentiments were spoken summing up 12 years of hard work: “We made it.” We finally did it.”
“Cheers to us.” “We are the class of 2012.”
By the numbers
Henry E. Lackey High School
-Total graduates: 284
-Total scholarship money offered: $5,500,000
La Plata High School
-Total graduates: 341
-Total scholarship money offered: $6,937,688
Maurice J. McDonough High School
-Total graduates: 287
-Total scholarship money offered: $6,502,277
North Point High School
-Total graduates: 542
-Total scholarship money offered: $13,978,586
Thomas Stone High School
-Total graduates: 380
-Total scholarship money offered: $10,396,000
Westlake High School
-Total graduates: 358
-Total scholarship money offered: $8,651,552
Charles County Public Schools
-Total graduates: 2,192
-Total scholarship money offered: $51,966,103