It's Graduation Season!

It's Graduation Season!

The end of the school year is always an exciting time in our community. It’s the culmination of hard work, learning, and personal growth — and that’s just the parents! But seriously, it is a time for students and teachers to reflect on their achievements, and start to prepare for next steps, whether it’s advancing to the next grade, transitioning to a new school, or entering the workforce. Yet, before all of that, it is time for students and their families to take a well-deserved break. They are looking forward to warm and sunny weather, spending more time together, swim team and art classes, summer travel plans, gaining career experience through summer jobs and internships, and a plethora of fun family-friendly festivals and activities to enjoy. Our high school and college seniors have even more to look forward to as they celebrate their graduations and embark on their next steps into adulthood.

As the delegate representing the 16th House District in the General Assembly, the end of the school year means to me an opportunity to share in the excitement of new beginnings. I celebrate together with my constituents, especially the proud parents, by attending graduation ceremonies in Mount Vernon each year to celebrate student accomplishments and support their families and teachers. There is nothing more invigorating to me than listening to excited students speak about their wonderful high school experiences while anticipating what comes next.

Last week, I joined students and staff at Quander Road School for their graduation. Quander Road is one of two public high schools in Fairfax County that offers a learning environment to better accommodate students with emotional, behavioral or social challenges. Quander Road serves students in the eastern portion of Fairfax County. I also had the honor of attending the transition ceremony for students at the Pulley Career Center at West Potomac High School. The Pulley Career Center provides career and independent life skills training to students aged 18-22 with disabilities. Both of these schools offer programs designed to fit the unique needs of each student as well as small class sizes to ensure success, and I feel lucky that my district hosts such excellent academic programs. Thank you Fairfax County Public Schools.

On Tuesday, I traveled to the EagleBank Arena at George Mason University to attend Mount Vernon High School’s graduation exercises. Wednesday found me at the Bryant High School graduation up on Popkins Lane at what was once the old Groveton High School I attended while growing up in our community. It was great to be back in the, dare I say, historic high school. Next week, I will be back at GMU to attend West Potomac High School’s graduation ceremony for the class of 2024. Time certainly flies as it was only a few years ago when my daughter graduated from West Potomac, where she was well prepared for life after graduation thanks to her fantastic teachers and faculty.

Moreover, listening to these amazing young people’s speeches at each event, including their plans for the future and their recollection of their high school experience, and conversing with students and their parents — not to mention faculty and teachers — provides me with insight into the challenges and successes within our local education system to help inform me on future policy decisions. And, it’s a great way to stay in tune with the aspirations of our younger generation. It is my hope that many of these students will pursue public service too. Whatever they end up doing, the future looks bright as these engaged, capable and informed residents join the adult world and add what I expect to be amazing accomplishments to our community and beyond.