It says something about Lafayette High School’s Class of 2019 that even right up to the day before Saturday’s graduation, this class of Rams achieved things that forced some last minute changes.
On the Friday before graduation, the Rams baseball team won the state championship, and the three senior members the team, Geo Rivera, Ricky Sullivan, and Ozzie Torres, earned mention along with their team from several speakers, including during the address from Lafayette’s acting Principal Daniel Miani.
“To the class of 2019, you have worked hard, achieved great things and even won the state baseball championship,” Miani said. “Among your number there are eight National Merit commended scholars, four Governor’s School attendees, one W-JCC Honors Program Graduate, and (you) have earned $3,403,871 in college scholarships and grants.”
Miani then named the Class of 2019’s salutatorian and valedictorian.
Alexandria Touron was named salutatorian, and was commended for her work in student government and the National Honor Society;
the Valedictorian was Ian Lucas, who served as the student government treasurer and played lacrosse and football for the Rams.
The first commencement speech was given by Briar Camille Ownby Connolly, a member of the Rams volleyball team and marching band and the daughter of Lisa Ownby, current chairwoman of Williamsburg-James City County Schools.
“Last summer, over the course of a month, every evening, I would go out and collect garbage from a little stretch of beach,” Connolly said. “I picked up 704 food wrappers, 670 cigarettes, 255 bottle caps, 172 plastic bags, 79 plastic straws, and over 3,200 pieces of trash over a month, and was disappointed that (much) of it was left by graduating seniors.”
After asking those who may celebrate Beach Week not to do the same, Connolly urged her fellow seniors to find a way to make a difference.
. “We cannot live our lives ignorant of the world around us, or our impact upon it, and we each have the power to make a difference, whether that be something big like voting, or something as small as cleaning up a beach.”
The other senior commencement speaker, Amara Bland-Haynes, was a three-season athlete at Lafayette as both a member of the cheerleading squad, and the basketball, soccer and outdoor track teams.
“With every moment in life, we have a choice to stop or keep going, and each day as we move closer to our goals, we must remember that things will get easier as we go,” Bland-Haynes said. “Today, we are at the top of a mountain that took us 13 years to climb, and we all wear the scars of that struggle and what it took to get us to this peak.”
In her case, Bland-Haynes thanked her mother and Archie Jefferson, a student advancement coach at Lafayette High School, before telling her fellow seniors to stand up and thank those who helped them.
“Climbing mountains is what rams do, and we will always be part of one big Ram family as we charge forward and achieve our dreams, and I’ll see you at the top of the next mountain.”
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.