J.E.B. Stuart celebrated its 51st commencement on Thursday at Robinson Secondary School, as 370 students graduated from the class of 2012 and brought their high school careers to a close. Included in those numbers are 58 National Honor Society members and 47 International Baccalaureate diploma candidates.
For the first time, the ceremony offered family members live translation via headphones into four languages. Often recognized for its diverse demographics, Stuart students represent more than 80 countries.
Several newly minted alumni shared their feelings, and while most claimed to be experiencing a mixed bag of emotions, there was an overlying sense of excitement.
"It's been four really long years," said Leo Guedes, one of the most decorated Raiders in recent years. "At times really hard, at times really fun. This is just a really exciting time for everybody."
Guedes took home the Raider Award, voted on by the graduating class and given to the student who best represents the school. An IB diploma candidate and National Honor Society Member, Geudes was also a First Team All-District football player who helped lead the Raiders to two of their most successful seasons in nearly 20 years, and will attend William and Mary in the fall.
Eli Bass and Joe Dubas proved that at least some of they learned would stick in their minds for a while. The two responded - in unison - that ambivalence was the word to describe their feelings.
"That's the word beloved English teacher David Dahl used," explained Dubas, who will study music at Northwestern University. "It means a mix of emotions, and that's how I feel right now. It's not the best time of my life, because those years are still to come, but it definitely shaped who I am."
"A mix of nostalgia, but you're looking toward the future," added Bass, who plans to swim at Bowdoin College in Maine.
Not all of the graduates were as ready to move on though. Future Virginia Tech Hokie Ryan Mioduski claimed that he almost wished he wasn't graduating.
"I would be really happy, but I liked high school so much that I'm sad that I'm leaving. So I guess it's mixed emotions," he said. "I think J.E.B. Stuart is the coolest place to go to high school because everyone is really good friends and no one is mean."
Not everyone saying goodbye to Stuart was a student. Principal Pam Jones, who has been a member of the Stuart faculty since 1978, announced in May that she would retire at the end of the school year.
“It was an extremely difficult decision, but I am looking forward to seeing the next chapter of J.E.B. Stuart High School,” Jones told the Raider's Digest last month. “For almost 34 years I’ve been a Raider, it’s been an honor, [and] I’m glad I had the opportunity.”
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