Filling in the Blanks: Success of graduates is a testament to schools’ commitment

Filling in the Blanks: Success of graduates is a testament to schools’ commitment
School board chairwoman Karen Graf

By Karen Graf

Dear seniors: Can you believe it? This year, T.C. Williams is graduating the Class of 2016 in the 50th year since it opened.

T.C. Williams is a very different place than it was 50 years ago — we have a new building, different classes and many more opportunities for students.

What’s next? Maybe you are going to college to learn a discipline, joining a branch of the armed forces or entering the workforce. Perhaps you are taking a year or more off to decide what you want to do.

Whatever you choose, strive to be the best. Do not hold yourself back and remember to give to others along the way. There is no right choice and no wrong choice in life. Just make sure you have no regrets and keep moving. Do your best, Class of 2016.

Dear Alexandrians: We have a unique school system in our city and our students are reaching great heights due to our staff’s commitment. Every day, a small army of people comes together to transport, feed and teach our city’s youth. Teachers, bus drivers, lunchroom workers, paraprofessionals, principals — they are the everyday heroes of our community.

This month, another group of students passes through our doors for the last time. Many of the students have been with Alexandria City Public Schools since kindergarten and some have joined us along the way. But every student who comes through our doors has an opportunity before them to learn, to find adult mentors in their teachers and to make lifelong friends.

The average resident may not know that students from T.C. Williams are going to some of the best schools in the nation, such as Stanford, Princeton, the University of Virginia and the University of California, Berkeley. There is even a student going to my alma mater, Northeastern University in Boston, which also famously graduated Schools Superintendent Alvin Crawley.

Scores of students are taking advantage of attending one of the many strong colleges here in Virginia. And many are opting for smaller private institutions around the nation, providing a different type of experience than the larger urban high school setting.

When I think of our program of studies, which looks like a college catalogue, I am inspired by the offerings in science, language and the arts that we have provided for our students. We are providing opportunities that I didn’t have in high school due to the advancement of education and the size of our high school.

We are producing students that are fanning out into the world to places like Colorado, Mississippi, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and even Germany. They can proudly say they graduated from ACPS and I am confident they are ready to take on the world.

Our city can be proud of them too, for they are a reflection of our investment as a community.

The writer is the chairwoman of the Alexandria City School Board.