It’s wonderful to focus on happy occasions rather than tragedies. Fortunately, there was a lot to celebrate in Alexandria this past weekend, as is highlighted in three stories in this week’s Alexandria Times.
First, the inaugural graduation ceremony for Alexandria City High School was held on Saturday, see page 1 story, “First ACHS class graduates.” It was a long, contentious struggle to remove the name T.C. Williams from the façade of Alexandria’s only public high school, a move that we advocated for on these pages dating back to the mid- 2010s, and this is the first class to graduate since the name was changed last July.
While the name change does not detract from the many thou- sands of students who graduated from T.C., there’s also no denying that it’s special to be the first class graduating from ACHS. Those 809 graduating seniors will long remember this day, and not just as a marker for one of the significant transitions in their lives.
We also celebrate the 16 students within ACHS who graduated from the Certified Nurse Aide Program, a collaboration between ACHS, Woodbine Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center and George Washington University. The program is part of the Virginia’s Gov- ernor’s Health Sciences Academy, which promotes careers in the health sciences.
These graduates – 14 women and two men – have a head start on good-paying jobs in a high-demand field. We commend them for their hard work and their forward-thinking about career paths at a young age. We also thank Woodbine for its 25 years of serving as a training ground for these fledgling healthcare workers. That is true community partnership!
We also congratulate the Bishop Ireton Class of 2022, which grad- uated on Saturday at a ceremony held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Last, but not least, we’re glad Alexandrians joined in the cele- bration of the platinum 70th jubilee festivities of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. See page 12 story, “Fit for a queen.” Queen Elizabeth is 96 and reportedly in ill health, which makes this jubilee all the more poignant.
This most public of figures has served – the days of monarchs actu- ally reigning were over by the time Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 – with decency. She’s been a figure of stability in a world that has undergone tremendous upheaval during the last 70 years. One doesn’t have to be a monarchist nor an anglophile to appreciate Eliz- abeth the person.
Perhaps we all feel that we understand her a bit better after watch- ing the Netflix series “The Crown” or “The Queen,” a 2006 movie in which the actress Dame Helen Mirren won an academy award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth. According to Wikipedia, Queen Eliza- beth was so impressed by Mirren’s portrayal that she extended her an invitation to dinner at Buckingham Palace.
British Actor Sir Michael Caine, in his 1992 autobiography, “What’s it all about,” describes a dinner he attended in Los Angeles at which Queen Elizabeth was the guest of honor. After a while, the queen became bored by the guest seated next to her, leaned around him and asked Caine to tell her a joke. According to Caine, he bemusedly spent the rest of the evening swapping jokes with Queen Elizabeth.
Our heartiest congratulations all around: to the first graduating class of Alexandria City High School, to the graduates of the Certified Nurses Aid Program, to the Bishop Ireton Class of 2022 and to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on jobs well done.