CENTREVILLE — Graduation — always a bittersweet occasion — was made even more so as Queen Anne’s County High School Principal Amy Hudock issued the farewell address to the class of 2019, including her own graduate.
Hudock welcomed honored guests in attendance, Board of Education members, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andrea Kane, County Commissioners Jack Wilson and Steve Wilson, State’s Attorney Lance Richardson, Major Dwayne Boardman with the Sheriff’s Office and School Resource Officer Dfc. Andrew Neall, to the commencement exercises held on Thursday, May 30.
It has been a lot of fun being with our students this year, and it is gratifying to know you have been well prepared to take on whatever you choose, Kane told the graduating class.
Kane recognized student board member Aryelle Miles for her commitment to civic engagement.
For the third year in row, Kane told the audience, QACPS has been recognized for having the highest graduation rate in the state. There were many firsts this year, with students inducted into the newly established National Art Honors Society and the debut of the first Art Scene, she said. “We are so very proud of you.”
Many awards, commendations and scholarships were presented to the Class of 2019. Academic Dean Tracy Kenna told the students, “We are proud of all of you,” noting that among those receiving awards for their outstanding efforts, they were equally proud of the students who had to work just as hard and applied the same dedication to complete their course of study.
From the graduating class, eight students committed to the military, and Mason MacKenzie accepted an appointment to the Naval Academy. Three students received transfer certificates to Chesapeake College and were invited to attend that college’s graduation as well, said Kenna. Two students, Tabitha Preston and Jonathan Twigg, graduated with perfect attendance for grades K-12, never having missed a day of school.
Students also earned certification as medical assistants, in cosmetology, engineering, teaching pathway, ASE, welding, masonry and carpentry. Forty-three students earned a 4.0 gpa or higher.
“It all happened so quickly,” said Senior Class President Bailey Riggs. “1,368 days have passed since we started ... we have become the most determined class ever.”
Salutatorian Carrie Walczak told her classmates, “I hope you never forget what it feels like to be a Queen Anne’s County Lion. Remember the lessons we learned here together, listen to good music, surround yourself with good company, and conduct yourself with integrity.”
“I’m Kylee Mills reporting for QACTV,” announced Valedictorian Kylee Mills Cradlin, giving a nod to her many reports on the local broadcasting station, “live” from Queen Anne’s County High School. Mills said as a freshman she knew she wanted to be valedictorian.
“Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Success is whatever you want it to be ... what makes you happy and can be re-defined each day,” she said.
“All of your individual goals are something to be proud of. Don’t let others define success for you.”
For Hudock, this year marked the last of her children graduating from high school. ”For 35 years we have been raising children — it has been exhausting,” she said. “The days go by slow, but the years go fast. This is bittersweet, no one told us how hard it would be to see them go. And parenting is the only job that when done well leads to unemployment.”
To the graduates, Hudock said, “Never let the fear of the unknown stand in the way of your goals. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction is the biggest step of your life. Never allow yourself to be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid, it means you don’t let fear stop you. Your future is unlimited.”
As the students prepared to leave their high school gymnasium, no longer as seniors, but successful graduates, School Board President Beverly Kelley issued a few final words of instruction, “Class of 2019, you have worked hard to get to where you are and you should be proud of yourselves. You have experienced many things, and hopefully a few of these memories will make you smile .... You have succeeded.”
As for advice, Kelley said, 20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you do, use sunscreen every day, and keep your thumbs off your phones and on the steering wheel when driving.”