ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Titan colors of red, white, and blue appeared all over Alexandria last Saturday, June 20. The festive lights honored T.C. Williams High School’s Class of 2020, which included 865 students.
For the first time in city history, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial was illuminated in school colors, recognizing this class of graduates, as they celebrated with their families through the night.
“This class of students has shown that they are able to seize the moment and shape their own futures,” said Peter Balas, principal of T.C. Williams High School, during the live telecast. “Their resilience during the pandemic, combined with their desire to take a stand against social injustice has proved that this is the generation to change the world, and we need them now more than ever.”
As of this writing, 569 graduates have indicated they will be attending college or university in the fall. Twenty-two more students have declared their intention to join the U.S. Military. And 39 others have accepted jobs in the workforce.
This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the rites of passage that high school seniors experience were adjusted to follow Gov. Ralph S. Northam’s (D-VA) stay-at-home order.
“This pandemic has created a moment in time — one where we have a chance to create a new normal. This may mean re-evaluating who we are as individuals, who you are as a student body, and who we are as a nation. There is no going back. We can only move forward,” said ACPS Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
The virtual graduation welcomed keynote speaker and Olympic hopeful Noah Lyles. Anticipation preceded the speech of this T.C. Class of 2016 alum and track and field standout.
During his address, Lyles called the Class of 2020 “courageous” and told them they are “different” from classes that have come before.
“Some might say that accomplishments are everything, that accomplishments are what make you,” Lyles said. “But I want to challenge that thought. I’m here to say it’s more the journey and how you got to those moments that are what really make you. Well, what are those things that really get you there? And I’d say it was adversity.”
Amiya Chilsom, 2020 Class President, gave a moving speech in which she expressed hope that her generation would end racial injustice.
“Being in a swimming pool of different ethnicities, different cultures, and many different backgrounds has given us the opportunity that many high schools cannot say they have had,” Chisolm said. “This is adaptation and acceptance.”
To view more pictures and see the full graduation video, click HERE.