On June 9, Rappahannock County High School’s 45 seniors – one of the school’s smallest graduating classes in recent memory, but one that boasts four of its members about to enter the University of Virginia in the fall – received their diplomas at the school’s 62nd annual Commencement Ceremony.
Despite its size, as rising junior Shelby Burnett wrote for the RCPS newsletter this week, “this class is brimming with energetic, enthusiastic, intelligent, talented and unique young people.” Among the morning’s speakers were principal Robert Stump, vice principal Andy Hipple, school board president John Lesinski, salutatorian Tessa Crews (introduced by her brother, the class of 2010’s Tyler Crews) and valedictorian Bryn Sonnett (introduced by her older brother, RCHS graduate Malcolm Sonnett), who challenged her classmates with: “Our world is in desperate need of innovators, and although we may not all be ‘the chosen ones,’ there’s no saying what we have the ability to create. Let our memories from here be our driving force. Let Rappahannock be a place to spark ideas, or simply a place to leave our hearts when our feet get tired.” Sonnett and classmates Tessa Crews, Clayton Hatcher and Adam Carter were accepted to U.Va. this fall.
After the initial speeches and tears shed by family, friends, teachers and staff, senior band members took their places with the rest of RCHS’s award-winning Panther Concert Band, led by David DeBoer, to give their final band performance, which included a rousing “Exaltation” by James Swearingen and a lovely vocal solo of Stephen Schwartz’s “For Good” by senior Joanna Hughes, which included the resounding message, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
Senior class president Cullen McCarthy made the closing remarks, and guidance counselor Jason Gochenour conferred degrees, administrators Stump and Hipple awarded the diplomas, and superintendent Aldridge Boone offered final advice and pronounced the students, “with great honor and pleasure,” graduates of Rappahannock County Public Schools.
The newly announced graduates threw their caps in the air, according to Burnett, and exploded into a silly-string-and-air-horn-clad bunch. Picture-taking and hugging recessed into the parking lot.
The MaryBeth Williams Memorial Fund committee announced the recipients of its annual scholarships this year were Candace Rutherford and Alaina Devine. The memorial fund established in MaryBeth Williams’ name has as its purpose the funding of scholarships for higher education and other activities for the youth of Rappahannock County. MaryBeth Williams was killed in an automobile accident on Route 729 on May 14, 1997. She was interested in higher education and agriculture and the fund was established as a memorial to her and her dreams.
Louise Johns of Woodville has been awarded a $1,000 Tim Krahl Memorial Scholarship from the University of Montana, where she is a sophomore majoring in journalism. The 2010 graduate of Wakefield Country Day School is the daughter of Chris and Elizabeth Johns of Woodville. Family and friends established the scholarship award in memory of Krahl, a 1998 UM photojournalism graduate.
Among those on the University of Mary Washington spring 2012 dean’s list, which recognizes academic achievement by fulltime students who attain at least a 3.5 grade-point average, were Annelise M. Riedel, a junior, from Washington, and Krista M. Riggleson, a junior, from Sperryville.
In Harrisonburg, Anna Owens of Sperryville graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from James Madison University, which held its commencement exercises May 5. Also among JMU’s graduates were, from Washington, Wade Norman (who earned a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology) and William Norman, whose master of science degree is also in kinesiology.