Wakefield Students Inspired to Live Dreams


(Friday, June 22, 2007 10:51 AM EDT)

High school may be over for the more than 250 Wakefield graduates who walked across the stage at DAR Constitution Hall on June 21, but their work as leaders of tomorrow has only just begun.

“We expect great things from the 2007 class from Wakefield High School,” said Superintendent Robert Smith at the graduation.

Principal Doris Jackson praised the class for winning honors and awards, both in the classroom and on the field, and for “really breaking the glass ceiling,” earning approximately $3.8 million in scholarships.

“I feel confident that you will fly like eagles. This is just a rite of passage, and this is the beginning of the rest of your life,” Jackson said. “Make wise choices and put to good use what you've learned at Wakefield.”

English teacher Douglas Burns, an apparent favorite among students, wanted to give graduates something in return for all they had given him as their instructor. Concluding that ice cream wouldn't cut it as a gift (“what about the lactose intolerant?” he joked), Burn decided on giving advice.

His wisdom came from the label of a Diet Coke can: Give, love and live.

“What could be more simple or appropriate?” Burns asked. “Living is not a passive endeavor. Living requires movement. Living mandates seeing the possible in the impossible. Living is giving and loving.”

Unlike most high schools that choose a single valedictorian to address the school, the school chose three valedictorians to speak this year.

Each spoke on a different facet of being a Wakefield Warrior.

Valedictorian Tatiana Letccheva described “Warrior Spirit,” which made the graduates fighters and ready to move beyond their school's hallways.

Co-valedictorian Lizette Arias touched on “Warrior Pride.” Although nothing can stop time, Wakefield pride will stay with the graduates forever, she said.

And the final student speaker, John Olbrys, spoke on “A Warrior World.”

“It's hard to step foot in Wakefield without experiencing a culture other than your own,” he said. “I am doubtful that anywhere I go will be as diverse or interesting. Wakefield should be a model for the real world.”

About a quarter of graduates were honored with the Governor's Seal, meaning they completed 24 credits, including at least one Advanced Placement class, and maintained at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

Although most of the graduates said they would miss certain aspects of their high school experience, they said they have learned important lessons and are ready to move on.

“The most important thing I've learned in high school is companionship and loyalty,” said Brandi Love.

“I feel thankful and happy to be graduating,” said Joseph Lilick. “But I'll actually miss getting up at 6:30 a.m.”

Wakefield High School graduates Mary Phothong, Angie Ramirez and Sahar Rana prepare for commencement exercises at DAR Constitution Hall on June 21.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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