Last week Alexandria’s only public high school, T. C.  Williams, held its graduation ceremony. The Class of 2018 gathered at the EagleBank Arena at George Mason University and celebrated some significant achievements. The ceremony was remarkably student centered with class members making the major addresses to their peers. The adults who spoke urged the students to remain on the path they had established so they could make a difference in their lives and society.

There were 793 graduates this year with another 25 eligible if they successfully complete summer school.  That totals 818. Last year there were 720 graduates with another 65 eligible if they successfully completed summer school for a total of 785.

This year 561 of the 793 were going on to college. Last year only 354 of the 720 planned to do so. This is an amazing increase.

T. C.’s new principal, Peter Balas, deserves credit for providing his school with enhanced academic focus. It is very difficult to compare classes because there is so much variability among them. There is, however, no mistaking the improvement in further education plans brought about by T. C.’s counselors. This is critical since most good jobs now require at least one or two years of education after high school.

T. C.’s very diverse student body is going to a very diverse selection of colleges and universities. The largest group, over 220, is planning to attend Northern Virginia Community College. This is not unexpected given the make up of the student body. A two-year Associate Degree from NOVA will give many the credentials they need for fulfilling employment. For others it will be a gateway to a four-year institution that participates in NOVA’s Guaranteed Admission Agreement making a BA or BS degree much more affordable.

Credit also should be given to Interim Superintendent Dr. Lois Berlin, who returned to her academic roots in Alexandria and skillfully guided the system through a year of many challenges. She leaves the system in good shape for our new Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, who is also returning to his academic roots and hometown to take over.

Our City and School Board should be justly proud of the T. C.  Williams Class of 2018. There sure are a lot of them and they sure piled up a lot of terrific accomplishments. We are optimistic that this is a fine indication of things to come for our City.