T.C. Williams High School saw 757 students graduate on Saturday, with more than a quarter earning a diploma in a language other than their native one.
A total of 204 students who collected their diplomas at the Eagle Bank Arena at George Mason University received English Learner services during their time as a student with ACPS.
More than 80% of the Class of 2019 have said they will be going on to college in the fall, with 474 students reporting confirmed places.
The increase in the number of students graduating on time who received or are receiving English Learner services is partly attributed to an amplified focus on ensuring all students get the needed support. Programs such as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) provide support for students who may be the first in their family to go to college, while access to scholarships help make college a reality.
The gains are also attributable to the start of a concerted focus on equity to ensure all students have access to higher level courses and a rigorous curriculum. This year’s focus on equity has included an equity audit and equity training for counselors and administrators.
“Our differences are our strengths. Many of our students face significant barriers and they have to work late nights, hold down part-time jobs and make sacrifices so that they can take the next step into college or the military or the workforce or out into the world. I am immensely proud of each and every one of them,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. said.
This year’s graduates will be attending Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins universities as well as Georgetown University, Duke University, the University of Virginia, Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Tech, the College of William and Mary and the military. Many students who are the first in their family to go to college could not do so without support from their school counselors, the T.C. Williams College and Career Center, the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria and Alexandria Workforce Development.
This spring, T.C. Williams earned state acknowledgement for having the highest number of seniors (54%) apply for federal funds to further their studies upon graduation.
The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria awarded more than $460,000 in scholarships to more than 170 T.C. Williams students and a further $550,000 to T.C. Williams alumni to continue to support them through college.
The superintendent used his graduation speech to launch the Coming Home Campaign, where former students who go on to study education in college, achieve a 3.0 grade point average and obtain their Virginia Licensure will be guaranteed a job on college graduation with Alexandria City Public Schools. Two years ago, ACPS established a Teachers For Tomorrow Program, taught by 2019 Virginia Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year Kim Wilson.
“There is no other school division where students can experience such a rich global environment with so many courses and opportunities as the one we offer at T.C. Williams. Time and time again, our students come back and tell us they were better prepared for the college experience or the work environment thanks to their experiences at T.C. Williams. We are confident that we have taught you so well that you will want to come back and pass on your knowledge to the next generation,” said Peter Balas, Principal of T.C. Williams.
Three hundred thirty one students graduated with an advanced diploma and 406 with a standard diploma in T.C. Williams’ 53rd graduation ceremony. Additionally, 47 students will be eligible to graduate this summer after they complete summer school in August. The final on-time graduation rate will be calculated by the state and released in September once adjustments have been made.
A total of 18 students are pursuing careers in the military, while 8% of those graduating will engage in apprenticeship or industry programs. Another 57 plan to head directly into the workforce post graduation.
Congratulations to all our graduates!