LA PLATA, Md. (June 06, 2017)—It is the smallest graduating class of 2017 in the county, but Maurice J. McDonough High School seniors graduating June 3 were strong in pride. The class stood united, all clad in purple gowns this year.
The theme of connection ran deep during McDonough's graduation at the Charles County Public Schools Convocation Center in Waldorf. Having faith in yourself and humility will take the Rams far as they start the next chapters of their lives, according to class leaders.
"Today's world is full of noisy people who always seem to be shouting past each other," Jack Browning said in his valedictorian speech. "Everyone wants to be heard, and so they yell louder and louder in the hopes that their voice will be recognized."
The dull roar of people shouting can be distracting, but Browning reminded his peers they have the chance to go from student to teacher. "I believe that we, the Class of 2017, have the opportunity to remind people that it is equally important to listen as it is to be heard," said Browning who plans to major in biology systems at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. "What matters is not how we did individually on a test or a sports game, but rather how we did as a class or a team. What matters is having empathy to understand that we all make mistakes and nobody is perfect."
Sarah Chen, the class salutatorian, urged her classmates to not fall prey to impossible standards flashing from ubiquitous social media sites. "As we all get ready to go into the real world, the truth is that no one cares about the outfit you're wearing or how much it costs, they only care about you. The real you," said Chen, who plans to study nursing at Messiah College. "The you that supplies the passion. The you that drives success."
Principal Steve Roberts offered a challenge to the graduating seniors. "My challenge to you today is to be present," he said. "Wherever you are, wherever you go, be 100 percent there."
McDonough graduates earned more than $5.3 million in scholarships this year with 183 students earning diplomas. McDonough was the sixth out of seven high school commencement ceremonies.