The sun shone brightly at Cougar Stadium, where 303 teenagers received Kettle Run High School diplomas Friday night.
Meaghan Brill presided over her first commencement exercises since succeeding Major Warner as principal last summer.
Kettle Run’s Class of 2018 — the school’s 10 group of graduates — earned more than $2.6 million worth of college scholarships.
Texts of the graduation speeches follow, along with a copy of the program.
Sara C. Massei SCA President
Hello everyone! Good afternoon and welcome to the Kettle Run High School Class of 2018’s graduation ceremony. I’m Sara Massei, and I have had the pleasure of serving as Student Council president this year. First things first: Those of you who were here last year heard my friend Ethan Schmidt talk about his unachieved goal of getting microwaves, and I want to give you an update: We got two. Ethan, your legacy lives on.
It’s now been 10 years since Kettle Run opened. In fact, my older brother was part of our first graduating class. He’s here today actually, where are you Connor? There he is! That’s my whole family actually, my parents, grandparents, brothers. Everybody say hi! I never promised not to be an embarrassment. I’d like to also “embarrass” our “heroes” who are here today: Dr. Jeck, Major Warner, David Graham, Amy Acors and the entire Fauquier Country School Board. Thank you for your continued dedication to our youth.
In the 10 years this school has been open, a lot has changed. However, what hasn’t is the strong sense of community. When you enter our school, you’re guaranteed a smile and a “have a nice day” from Mrs. Kuhlberg. As you continue your day, you’ll run into many more people who care about you, even if they don’t know you, and that’s something really special. But like I said, some things have changed.
As many of you know, Major Warner was the principal here for nine years. When he left us last year, we knew his replacement had some big shoes to fill. She has NOT filled those shoes. She has created a pair of her own. Mrs. Brill, thank you for genuinely caring about your students; we’re honored to be your first graduating class.
I’m a strong believer in capturing moments, so if you’ll excuse my “millennialness” and say cheese for a selfie. Thank you. Today is one of those days that we will remember for the rest of our lives, hence the selfie. The moment we receive our diploma is the last page of a book we’ve been writing for about 12 years.
Many people say that graduating means starting a new chapter in our lives, but that’s incorrect. Today, as we leave high school, we finish writing the last chapter of our first novel and begin a second one entirely.
Mrs. Overholt, I’ll be sure to send you a copy of that metaphorical book after today’s over, but here’s a preview:
• Prologue — I ride a bus for the first time, my parents wave and cry. I go to some sort of new garden called kinder?
• Chapter 5 — I’m running with the big dogs, I AM a big dog. Swag. Can’t wait for middle school.
• Eight — Welp, that was awkward. Really, the whole three-year experience was just pure awkwardness, but I learned a lot.
• Nine — Seniors look like adults, and they tell us to go back to middle school. We tell them we’re glad they’re leaving.
• Eleven — Excuse me, what? I’m more than halfway done with high school? You mean I actually have to start thinking about my future? Whoa.
• Twelve — I’m on the home stretch now, but it still doesn't feel real. And finally, the very last page: today. Everything we’ve worked for, everything we’ve been through amounts to this. Our first book is full, and our next is nothing but blank pages. No matter what we choose to do after high school, we are all the same because as of today, as we become high school graduates. Every single one of us is on a level playing field. Whatever happened in high school is behind us as we enter the real world, as we become Kettle Run alumni.
We are not lucky to be here today in our caps and gowns; they’re really uncomfortable, and honestly not that cute. I’m kidding, they’re actually nice, and we look great if I do say so myself, but that's not my point. We’re fortunate to have had access to the education that we did, but if we relied on luck alone to graduate, this ceremony would be much shorter and could be held in a classroom. Today is the result of luck combined with hard work. If we continue to work hard in our adult lives, we CAN make change. We’ve lived through countless tragedies, we’ve seen their impact, and we know that we cannot become complacent. We were a part of the past and we’ll be a part of the future, so it’s up to us to ensure that it’s a bright one.
We’ve all heard the phrase “it takes a village.” No graduate would be here if not for the help of their own little village, so allow me to extend our gratitude. To our families: You are the ones who raised us, formed us into who we are today, and dealt with us even when it was hard. To our friends, those who have come and gone and those who have been by our sides forever: You have made great impacts on our lives. And, finally, to our teachers, to those we hated, those we loved, those for whom we somehow felt both: You have given us the gift of knowledge for which our gratitude can not be adequately expressed. You have changed our lives, you know who you are. Thank you ALL. Today is just as much your success as it is ours.
I’ll leave you today with something from this intriguing trend that I’ve been seeing a lot of our youth take interest in. It’s not selfie taking, I already mentioned that, but maybe you’ve have heard of it, it’s called “Netflix.” A while back it brought to my attention a quote that summed up what I wanted to say today. Don’t worry, it is an ACTUAL Churchill quote, and it goes like this: “Hear this, young men and women far and wide. Do not be content with things as they are. The Earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Don’t take no for an answer. Never submit to failure. You will make all kinds of mistakes, but as long as you are generous and true and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress Her. She was made to be wooed and won by the youth.”
To the audience members, I hope the next hour you spend here is as enjoyable for you as the past four years have been for me. If you get too hot, there’s water under all of your seats. Made you look.
Finally, to my fellow graduates: My hope for you all is that you reflect on Winston’s words and continue to live your lives as the generous, true, and fierce people that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing over the years. Class of 2018, thank you for everything and congratulations.
Joey Moore Senior Class President
Good afternoon parents, friends, esteemed guests and faculty — and, most importantly, the Class of 2018. I am Joey Moore, your senior class president. I’d like to start by thanking three very important figures in my life — SparkNotes, Wikipedia and VPNs that let me use Snapchat in school; I don’t know if I would be up here today without you.
But seriously, throughout our four years at Kettle Run we’ve been through 2 principals, multiple vice principals and counselors, maybe a relationship or two and too many boring classes. We have transformed from awkward 14-year-olds to awkward 18-year-olds. And, we have bonded over our love for Scantron tests and the attendance policy.
And yet, as I stand here in front of you all today, I could say that I see future doctors, generals, politicians and leaders. But, in reality, I am looking at my friend Nornye, trying to not be nervous thinking about the thousands of people in the stands right behind him. Throughout our four short years of high school, we have made many new friends and asked for many extensions on deadlines from our teachers. Some of us peaked in high school and some of us may have hated high school, but getting through it together allows us to push forward towards greater things. Even if sometimes people try to stop us from believing it, no matter how we look or how we talk, we are all great, and it will be vital to remember that — especially once we fail our first class in college.
This is why if there is one piece of advise we could all use for the coming years it would be to look on the bright side of things and have a positive attitude. The only thing we will be able to control in every situation is our attitude. So whether you are a broke college student eating Ramen noodles, just think — at least it is something. Or whether you are Justin Magill and you broke your collar bone against Fauquier during the soccer season for the fourth time — just think, at least I didn’t break my neck.
Because, in the end, there is only one person there for you and that is you, so try to think positively. And now, as I stand before you today, completing the last assignment of my high school career, there is one thing I ask of all of you. If the whole Class of 2018 could please stand up and turn around and give your parents a round of applause, because without them we definitely wouldn’t be here today.
So finally, Class of 2018, don’t be average, don’t be good, be great and be phenomenal or be forgotten. Congratulations.
And without further ado, give a round of applause for our musical performance, Lizzy Morris singing Blessed by Daniel Caesar.
Meaghan Brill Principal
Kettle Run High School Class of 2018, the time is inching nearer. Today’s your day, and we are so proud of all that you have accomplished thus far, all that you have overcome, and we find ourselves looking forward to the adventures that await you on your journey. In fact, we are honored to say that, collectively, we have made a connection to you and, in just a few short moments, we will be able to call you a graduate of Kettle Run High School.
Before we do that, I would like to personally thank all of the people who are here to show you their support. Seniors, please help me to do so by offering them a round of applause. It is important to remember that these are the people who have been there for you. These are the people that you can call when you are in need, and I expect that their support is unconditional because they genuinely care for you.
To get to this wonderful event today, you woke up each morning and pushed past the circumstances that were beyond your control to make it to Kettle Run. Even that small feat, could some days be a big task. Naturally, some days were better than others. There were hurdles along the way and challenges that made you question yourself and others.
The point is, you persevered. You didn’t let your circumstances define you. Those things that you have no control over were not going to determine your outcome. Keep this in mind. It’s not how we are on our best days . . . . It’s how we are on our worst days. Remember that you are in complete control of the outcome. You have the ability to change it, so stay focused on what you believe to be the most important thing.
While today we find ourselves wishing you well, remember that you are a group that we believe has the ability to make a change. You have inspired us to re-think the way we do things and sometimes find a new, even better way to make things happen. It is because you are courageous and committed. You are not deterred by how difficult something may be and you are always ready to advocate for the causes that you find to be most important. You have the chance to make your mark on the world, and we certainly believe that you will do just that.
In conclusion, I leave you with a quote that resonates with me, “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”