34 Summer School Graduates Join Loudoun’s Class of 2017

A four-letter word was repeated at the high school summer school graduation this morning. Grit.

Addressing the 34 graduates of Loudoun County’s summer school program, speakers credited the students’ grit to carrying them to this point.

“It is my hope that your high school journey—your hard work—helped you find your grit,” said Michelle Derby, principal of Dominion High School’s summer school. “Helped you reach deep to find the commitment, the motivation and the endurance that are so important not just to get through school but to propel you to reach your life long goals.”

High school seniors who fell short of the required credits to graduate in early June, but successfully completed the needed courses in summer school were honored at the commencement ceremony, complete with gowns, tassels, a keynote speaker and all the expected pomp and circumstance.

Superintendent Eric Williams described grit as the push to keep going “even when it feels like a force is pushing you backwards.” He read a few lines from a poem by rapper Tupac Shakur about a rose that grew from concrete: “Keepin’ all these dreams. Provin’ nature’s laws wrong. It learned how to walk without havin’ feet. It came from concrete.”

“I love this poem because it’s possible in times in life to have that feeling that the challenges you face make it improbable to find success. But you’ve reached it,” he said.

A few students honored at the ceremony, held at Riverside High School, enrolled in the summer school program to earn credits to graduate a year early.

That was the case for Katelyn Chaney. The 17-year-old realized in March that she only had to complete a U.S. History course to graduate from Heritage High School a year ahead of her peers. “I’ve been excited all week,” she said. “And actually I really enjoyed the class.”

Her sights are now set on pursuing a pre-law degree. She heads to University of Mary Washington in just two weeks. “I’ve got everything packed already.”

But first, she was off to enjoy Chinese food with family. “It sounds funny, but that’s what I’m really initially excited about.”

John Champe High School student Claire Fisher accepts her diploma. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]

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