At Magna Vista High School’s commencement Friday night, Principal Gracie Agnew said, “It is an honor to end my career with this wonderful, wonderful” Class of 2014, the 25th to graduate from the school.
“Talk about Warrior Pride, this class has it. Talk about excellence in education, this faculty provides it,” said Agnew, who will retire effective June 30.
Magna Vista’s 193 graduates included six summa cum laude graduates, 13 magna cum laude graduates, 24 cum laude graduates and 96 graduates who earned advanced studies diplomas.
The top 10 percent of seniors academically were given an opportunity to prepare graduation speeches, and a committee selected the speakers.
Speaker Michael Chavez said, “... 25 years ago, the very first graduating class of Magna Vista High School was in the same situation as you and I are currently. All of the seniors were sitting anxiously, eagerly waiting to hear their name called to receive their diploma. After working so diligently for 13 years of preparation, they were longing to begin the next step in their lives. Even 25 years later, we still share a commonality with that first class: the path to becoming a Warrior.”
He described transitions and growth in the graduates’ lives during four years at Magna Vista and the achievement of graduation. He ended by saying, “Being a Warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the last moments of our lives.”
Speaker Cullen Moran said students celebrated their successes and learned from their failures.
“We all have special memories of our time in high school, and these are memories that will last for a lifetime. Whether they be memories of time spent with friends, memories of a particularly influential teacher, or memories of our own personal successes, we will cherish them forever,” he said.
He said as graduates “venture out into the world, we will make even more lasting memories. It is up to you to decide what these memories will be. If you continue to work hard, I am certain that all of you will find great success in your future.”
He also stressed the importance of persistence, following one’s dream and not being afraid to take risks in one’s search for happiness.
“...An unfulfilled life is an unhappy life,” he said.
Speaker Jasmine Boardwine said: “In the words of Arie Pencovici, ‘Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.’”
“This declaration accurately captures our lives leading to and after this incredible evening,” she added. “Tonight we commemorate the accumulation of all of the graduations we have encountered throughout life so far. Whether they be in academics, athletics, or personal lives, we must celebrate them.”
She recognized not only her classmates for their varied accomplishments, but their mentors for helping shape them.
“We say goodbye to an era of our lives that may not have been easy but was surely amazing,” she said. “It was when we took a chance and really lived. We were young, and maybe dumb, but we did it. With that era go friends, advisers, good times, bad times and everything in between.”
She ended by saying: “Now that we have remembered, celebrated and said goodbye, it is time to move forward. After today we proceed into a brand new time of our lives. It will be unusual and task filled, yet thrilling. My advice ... is never stop graduating. Never cease to accomplish goals and break barriers. You are a Warrior.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates flung their caps into the air and celebrated with family and friends.
“I’m really excited, but it’s kind of bittersweet, ” said graduate Tiffany Manning. She explained that she’s happy to be moving on but sad to be leaving people she has known since preschool.
“Amazing” is how graduate Kayla Lynch described her feelings. Tiffany and Kayla, who are sisters, plan to be roommates at Radford University. Tiffany aspires to become an English teacher. Kayla plans to major in criminal justice and hopes to become a police officer.
Graduate Austin Dunford said he felt “relieved” and “kind of” excited.
His mother, Denise Dunford, said she felt “great. He had a good year. He was in the top 10 percent of his class. I’m very proud of him.”
She said Austin plans to go to Patrick Henry Community College for a year and hopes to then transfer to Virginia Tech.
Austin said he aspires to become a computer engineer.
“I feel great. It’s an amazing experience,” said graduate Mariah Moyer. She plans to go to PHCC for two years and hopes to transfer to Jefferson College of Health Sciences. She aspires to become a physical therapist.
Mariah’s mom, Shandolyn Moyer, said she felt “great, excellent. Mission accomplished. I’m very proud.”
Melody Martin said her daughter, Kelsey Mabe, was excited but sad, and ready to start her new venture. Kelsey plans to attend PHCC and then hopes to transfer to Virginia Wesleyan Community College and study dental hygiene, Martin said.
Graduate Zachary Hall said he felt “great. It’s amazing.”