Warhill students told, "You will always have the heart of a lion."

WILLIAMSBURG- After a morning power outage at William and Mary, the Warhill High School graduation ceremony in William and Mary Hall was going to be reduced to an abbreviated ceremony with no speeches and little more than a distribution of diplomas.

But with power restored at the last minute, Williamsburg-James City County school officials decided to conduct the full ceremony, with the exception of one choral performance.

If they hadn't, several speeches would have been prepared in vain. 

The graduating seniors heard from 10 of their own, several of whom spoke about the lessons learned at Warhill and the prospect of moving on to the next phase of life.   

Senior Class President Hayley Schulz told her classmates to hug a teacher before the day was over.

John James Hogan talked about the impact of adversity. He said during his freshman year, he broke three bones and then found out his sister was diagnosed with cancer. 

"But my family came out stronger, closer and more in tune with each other," he said. 

Kenton Roberts McDonough compared high school to Purgatory, saying that as freshmen they entered ready to be taught, but as they leave they are ready to think and pursue their dreams. 

"Our time in Purgatory is over. So we shall have our parties, I say. What else shall we do? All that is left is to shoulder on, head held high," McDonough said. 

And Principal Jeff Carroll enthusiastically listed statistics about Warhill's class of 2016: 256 graduates, 215 students going on to college, 84 varsity athletes, 35 thespians, 27 honors band musicians and two state champions - softball and volleyball. 

Carroll reminded the students to appreciate their parents.

"Do not forget these people who nurtured your exploration and watched you grow into fine young men and women," he said. 

He closed his comments by telling the students, "You will always have the heart of a lion." 

Autumn Liu was named the class valedictorian, and Hannah Rose Hrncir was named the salutatorian. Deepa Ghimire completed the WJCC Honors Program, a rigorous curriculum track requiring several advanced-placement classes and community service. 

McKinnon can be reached at 757-345-2341.

Note: This has been updated to clarify that the power outage led to the cancellation of a choral performance. 

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