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ArlingtonEducationW-L grads to embrace individuality on the path ahead

W-L grads to embrace individuality on the path ahead

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Members of the Washington-Liberty High School Class of 2022 will definitely have stories to tell down the road about a high-school experience that started in person, then went “virtual” only to rebound for their senior year.

“We’ve experienced history in the making. A lot. A LOT,” valedictory speaker Ariel Gill-Ehrenreich said at the school’s annual commencement exercise, returning to D.A.R. Constitution Hall June 16 for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

“You’ve got something to be proud of,” Gill-Ehrenreich told her fellow graduates, but now the question will be “how much you’re willing to put in” to achieve desired results now that they are collectively being “released into the world.”

The path forward is unlikely to be a straight one, nor is it necessarily meant to be, she noted, and not every day will be a good one.

“It’s OK to not be OK all the time,” Gill-Ehrenreich said. “We have the whole rest of our lives.”

Commencement speaker Jen Dean, who since 2006 has served as a teacher at the school, praised “a class that has thrived against the odds” and shown “resiliency, adaptability and maturity” in addressing the pandemic and all the other, more commonplace challenges of adolescence.

Like Gill-Ehnenreich, Dean suggested that there’s nothing wrong with a few detours in life.

“Walk your own path,” she advised. “It doesn’t have to be all mapped out.”
Speaking of her own high-school graduation – held in the same venue nearly a quarter-century before – “I wish I had known [then] the best is yet to come,” Dean said.

The Class of 2022 at Washington-Liberty included 102 students who earned International Baccalaureate diplomas, as well as 251 who were counted as valedictorians for having grade-point averages of 4.0 or higher.

But no matter the class rank, the ceremony represented the culmination of years of hard work and accomplishments, principal Antonio Hall said.

“Take your time through your life’s journey to make sure your souls grow,” Hall advised. “Be self-reflective. Never be afraid to change your path when necessary.”

On a more immediate note: “Take your parents, your friends, your loved ones aside and say ‘thank you,’” the principal said.

Summing up the day, and the four-year experience the new grads have lived through, senior-class president Rosalie Couture distilled it down to a single word.

“Whoo!” Couture exclaimed.

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