By James Cullum
T.C. Celebrates Summer School Graduation
Last year Christopher Nguyen decided to join the Army, even though he was a science credit short from graduating with the rest of his 2008 T.C. Williams High School class. His problems were over, he thought, until the Army told him that he had to go to summer school to get his diploma.
Yesterday, 42 members of the T.C. Williams class of 2009 graduated from summer school. For Nguyen, 20, graduating late was better than never graduating at all. He is now considering going from the Army Reserve to active status.
“The Army told me I had to go back and graduate,” Nguyen said, wearing a crimson cap and gown over his Army uniform. “Just being here and seeing my friends gone and new people here is strange.”
But Nguyen’s case is the exception. Most of yesterday’s graduates attended T.C. for the 2008-2009 school year. Andrea Jimenez, 18, took science with Nguyen this summer. “Biology was too much, so I decided to come back in the summer. Hey, as long as I have the diploma I don’t care.”
T.C. summer school principal, Grace Taylor commended the students. “Whether it was to pass an SOL test or two or to complete course requirements, these young men and women took their task to heart and succeeded… I ask each and every one of you to focus on your next challenge, whether it’s to enter college, the military or the world of work. That drive and determination is inside each and every one of you as evidenced by your presence and participation on this glorious occasion,” she said.
Alexandria City Public School Superintendent Dr. Morton Sherman said that many of the summer school students could have gotten their General Education Diploma instead of going to summer school. “So many of you sitting here could have said, ‘GED’ or you could have said, ‘I’m tired of this. I am weary. I don’t want any more school. I want out,’ and you could have elected to be gone. You could have said so many things – some kind, some not so kind. Instead, you remarkable young men and women chose to say that getting a high school diploma is important. For saying that and for acting on that, we here in this auditorium and we here in this remarkable City of Alexandria salute you.”
Carolyn Lewis, retired Academy 1/STEP Center Principal gave the commencement speech. “Your role models are all around you. The fruits of your labor, through proper education, is evident everywhere you go. The struggles that await you are equally as evident if you choose not to succeed. Failure is a choice and I know you know that, because you refused to fail, which is why you are here celebrating with me today,” she said.