Filling in the Blanks with Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Ed.D.: June is a time for Titan pride

Filling in the Blanks with Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Ed.D.: June is a time for Titan pride
Dr. Gregory Hutchings Ed.D. (Photo Credit: Susan Hale Thomas/ACPS)

This week, a record number of Titans will take the stage at Eagle Bank Arena to become part of one of the largest graduating classes in the history of T.C. Williams High School.

You will see pride in their eyes as they come to realize their achievement, and what it means to graduate from Virginia’s largest and most diverse high school. You will also see camaraderie as they line up in the hallway and wait to walk, along with a genuine respect and appreciation for what they have learned during their time at T.C.

Looking out over that sea of new graduates, you will understand the deep commitment of our community, support from our families and passion of our staff in ensuring every student gets this opportunity and feels what success is like.

These new graduates represent a school division with students from 114 different countries who speak 119 different languages. Among them is a student who joined T.C. Williams with no formal education three years ago when her family moved from Afghanistan and who is now on the path to becoming a nurse; a student who underwent nine surgeries and now plans to become a pediatric oncologist; 20 star athletes who will be playing for colleges or universities next year; two students who came first and third in Virginia on the highest level of the National German Exam; students who help run the Kick Coffee Shop at T.C. Williams; and one student who recently won the nation’s top student science award and will be going to Harvard.

But what unites these students, apart from their individual successes, is the richness of their high school experience and how it connects to their sense of Titan pride.

There is no other place that instills the same sense of pride as T.C. Williams. No matter where our graduates go to college or what they do in the fall, the new friends they make will already know the name of their high school.

We are part of a legacy that helped transform race relations in Alexandria in the 1970s. Paying tribute to his white assistant coach William “Bill” Yoast last week, T.C.’s first African American head coach Herman Boone said that although they were as different as night and day, they found a way to talk to each other, trust each other and become best friends.

Today, this legacy is being carried by the students who walk across the stage together and continue to feel this same Titan pride. Our high school – contrary to the origins of its name – has become synonymous with a drive for equitable opportunities for all.

There is no other school division where students can experience such a rich global environment as ours at ACPS. Time and time again, our students come back and tell us they were better prepared for college or their military career or the work environment thanks to their ACPS experiences.

June is a time when we should stop for a moment and reflect on how we got here, on our commit- ment as a community to each and every one of our students, and, like our students swell just a little with Titan pride. Once a Titan, always a Titan.

The writer is superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools.