All you need to see to know that King William High School’s graduating class of 2019 is different from years past is the change of venue — the class of 2019, all 166 of them, along with their families, have at last outgrown the King William High School gymnasium, requiring ceremonies to be held at the Meadow Event Park.
As Principal Corey McConville said during his opening remarks, growth like this is “a good problem for a school to have.”
Members of the Class of 2019 have earned $1,512,681 in scholarship money, a dozen students have enlisted in the military, and a dozen others walked across the stage to collect associate’s degrees from Rappahannock Community College alongside their high school diplomas.
The commencement speaker was Rodney Robinson, a Richmond Public Schools teacher who was recently named the National Teacher of the Year. A graduate of King William High School’s Class of 1996, Robinson proudly talked about his roots as an "old school” King William graduate, and the impact growing up there had on him.
“I was in the same position as all of you 23 years ago, so I know how you’re feeling right now,” Robinson said. “Some of you are happy, some of you are sad, and some of you are hoping I stop talking so you can get out of here to go celebrate. But if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, it’s that life comes at you fast.”
Robinson said that life is like boiling water, and in reacting to that heat and pressure, some collapse while others thrive.
“Some people are like potatoes, where that pressure breaks them down, and others are like eggs, where feeling that heat just makes them hard,” Robinson said. “I hope all of you react to life the way the coffee bean reacts to that water, not only surviving but improving the water, adding energy and flavor to everything around it — I hope all of you take control of your life, don’t let life control you.”
In his speech to graduates', salutatorian Tyler Bailey joked about how life may not always go as planned, but that sometimes that’s for the best.
“Just look at me — I’m proof that if you work hard, study, burn the midnight oil, set goals and really dedicate yourself, that you too, can come in second place — which is the best lesson you could learn,” Bailey said. “Looking out at everyone here today, and everything which we achieved together, we all have reason to be proud of standing here today.”
Class valedictorian Logan Layne would say much of the same, pointing out how many of them had been in King William schools for years, had been changed for the better for it, and that they’ll always have the bond of the community they formed there.
“We have all come a long way since the beginning, and though we are all very different people, we all got here together, helped each other over the years, offered each other ideas and support,” Layne said. “To all of you: Be happy with whatever it is you do from here, and never forget, you always have us and what we did together at King William.”
King William High School Class of 2019
Christopher Parkhurst Jr.
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email email@example.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.