More than 200 seniors graduated from Magna Vista High School on Saturday morning with splashes of color, excitement and solemnity.
Fingers began to point to graduates and VIPs who were marching onto the football field as the Magna Vista Band played “Fanfare and Processional.” Family members scoped the field trying to find their loved ones. There were cheers, laughs and waving hands.
Overheard in the stands as spectators looked for their graduates:
“There she go with her hair swinging.”
“Her hat came off.”
“What row she on?”
Danielle Kristine DePeau, Class of 2013 president, presided. The JROTC Color Guard presented the colors and the Magna Vista Choir sang “Star Spangled Banner” as everyone stood.
Principal Gracie Agnew advised graduates, “... It is OK to march to the beat of the drummer you hear. ... Define your own destiny.”
Tyler La’Von Parker, Class of 2013 vice president, introduced the student speakers: Morgan Leigh Gravley, Mickie Michelle Doman and Sara Marie Poff, all graduating magna cum laude.
Speaking on “Our Future, An Unwritten Book,” Gravley said, “What will you make of your education, and where will it lead you? ... With this education, we can become anything we want.”
She said there will be setbacks, disappointments and mistakes.
Learn from them; don’t view them as failures; have courage, Gravely advised.
In her speech, “Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior,” Doman said she had dreamed of graduation since she was a little girl and that her parents supported and at times pushed her along the way.
She talked of lasting friendships formed with classmates, and teachers and administrators who challenged and helped shape them.
“You should be very proud of yourselves,” Doman told the graduates. “Always keep moments like this close. ... ”
Poff titled her speech “A Lifetime of Memories.” She recalled being scared as a freshman, pushing her way through the halls; getting a shot of enthusiasm at football games; and doing her part to help win screaming contests at pep rallies. Magna Vista teachers tried to get students to succeed in school and in life, she added.
The Magna Vista Choir sang “Graduation Song (Song of Joy).” Awarding of diplomas began.
The graduates, for the most part, walked with dignity as they approached the stage, received their diplomas and returned to their seats.
But several students couldn’t seem to control their excitement. A few pumped their fists or diplomas into the air. One girl raised her arms straight up, as if a sign of victory. One boy danced. Spectators waved, cheered, called out graduates’ nicknames and took photographs and videos.
The graduates turned their tassels amid applause and cheers. The Magna Vista Band played “Fanfare and Recessional” as the graduates marched off the field and onto the track where they gathered in front of the spectators.
A hip-hop tune began to play, and many students danced the Harlem shuffle. Well-wishers poured onto the track.
“I’m very, very proud,” said Coretta Giles, mother of graduate Jasmyne D’Brele Giles. “I struggled (financially) in the last five years. I didn’t see a way, but he (God) did.” Her daughter plans to study criminal justice at Patrick Henry Community College.
“I’m excited to move on to a new chapter in my life,” said graduate Danielle DePeau. She plans to study veterinary science at PHCC and then transfer to Ferrum College.
“I’m super excited. It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” said graduate Hannah Savedge, who has applied to Virginia Intermont College and Roanoke College. She plans to major in pre-med.
Her mother Kim Savedge said she felt “wonderful,” but it was a bittersweet occasion, too, because Hannah is her third and last child to graduate from Magna Vista. Kim said she especially will miss going to Hannah’s softball and volleyball games. Hannah made All-District first team in softball and hopes to play in college.
“I’m the first one in my family to go off to a four-year college. It’s like a dream,” said graduate Tiara Giles. She plans to study criminal justice at Virginia State University.
Seniors of the Class of 2013 were offered $1.55 million in scholarship opportunities, according to a handout distributed at graduation.
It added that Tate Jones served as Beta president for Virginia and that Magna Vista has not lost a football game at Warrior Field since the Class of 2013 entered high school.
An estimated crowd of more than 1,000 attended the ceremony.