T.C. Williams High School celebrated the graduation of 793 students on Saturday, in a year in which the Class of 2018 will be remembered not only for the largest cohort of graduating students in T.C. Williams’ recent history, but also for the largest number of students in a single class heading to college.
The Class of 2018 saw a substantial increase in the number of students reporting a commitment to post-secondary education with 561 planning to attend college ― a 58 percent increase on last year.
The gains are due in part to the new leadership structure, which improves the ratio of counselors working with senior students to better support them in planning and pursuing their post-secondary goals. The new structure also aligns support from the College and Career Center with partners such as the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, Alexandria Workforce Development and Northern Virginia Community College, to ensure that every student had a plan following graduation and the support needed to implement that plan.
This year, our counseling team set a goal to increase the number of students committing to attending college. It was an incredible effort by all involved and has had a tremendous impact on our students and their academic pursuits. Hundreds more students are heading to college this fall as a result,” said Peter Balas, Principal of T.C. Williams.
Three-hundred-twenty-seven students graduated with an advanced diploma and 427 with a standard diploma in T.C. Williams’ 52nd graduation ceremony. Additionally, 25 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 34 students are pursuing careers in the military, while 17 will engage in apprenticeship or industry programs and another 57 plan to head directly into the workforce post graduation.
Interim Superintendent Lois F. Berlin noted that the ceremony, held at the Eagle Bank Arena at George Mason University, was a landmark in a lifelong journey for the 793 students graduating that day.
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. You have the opportunity to be a voice and not an echo as you spearhead changes that are yet to be imagined. I hope that whatever you seek, you find it with your eyes wide open. And I hope that you, each and every one of you, have the ambition to run the world because this world needs you,” Dr. Berlin said.
The students in the ceremony, one of Dr. Berlin’s final celebrations as Interim Superintendent before she completes her role at the end of June, is the first to graduate under the leadership of Principal Peter Balas.
Balas told the Class of 2018 that it had defined itself by its dignified and respectful reaction to events of the past year. He said that this class was unique in making its views heard, no matter what side of the political spectrum they were on and that being a part of history is about seizing opportunity and running with it.
Instead of standing back, you stood up and made your voices heard, whatever side of the argument you were on – and the fact you did it with respect, respect for others and their views with dignity and class – was the moment when you defined yourselves as a class. It didn’t matter what your views were politically, socially, or personally, you conducted yourselves with honor and respect, and that is what makes you a Titan,” Balas said.
Valedictorian Jackson du Pont and salutatorian Jonah Raphael Horowitz led the Class of 2018 into the next phase of their lives. Jackson heads to Yale University to study global affairs, while Jonah heads to Amherst College in the fall. Other students will be attending other top schools in the United States, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Georgetown University, Boston College, Emory University, The Juilliard School, and Vassar.
When I look back at my time at T.C. Williams, I look at the relationships that I’ve forged and the people that I’ve met. Nowhere else can we find a group of individuals so diverse, from so many different backgrounds. Going to school here gives you a really unique perspective on the world because while other schools can learn about diversity and people of other nationalities in the classroom, we just live it here. It’s a given when you come to T.C. Williams,“ said Jackson.
Congratulations to all our graduates!
See photos from the event on the ACPS Facebook page.
Watch the full 2018 T.C. Williams Graduation Ceremony.