Gwynn Park High graduates look back, ahead
Brandywine school's Class of 2011 honors supporters while planning careers
When Gwynn Park High School Principal Tracie Malone suggested her senior class find a way to honor those who have supported them through their educational careers, the Brandywine school's Class of 2011 was all ears.
"They've been extremely giving, helpful and willing to volunteer for any vision or goal," Malone said.
Malone said the class threw themselves at the idea, getting parents, and supporters together for a dinner May 5 at the Colony South Hotel and Conference Center in Clinton to honor their contributions to the class' success.
But on May 26, those seniors had the stage to themselves, celebrating their graduation at a ceremony at Upper Marlboro's Show Place Arena.
Melissa Osborne, one of the senior class co-sponsors and an English teacher, said this year's graduating class was one of the best she has had a hand in sponsoring, with 97 percent of seniors receiving their diplomas. Last year, Gwynn Park High School had a 96 percent graduation rate, while Prince George's County as a whole had a rate of 84 percent.
"They have a drive to succeed and a collective winning personality," Osborne said.
Nicole Berry, another senior class co-sponsor and business teacher, admired that collective spirit as well.
"They are intelligent and creative," she said. "And they're unified when they come together, trying to achieve a common goal."
Graduating senior Michael Dadson, 17, moved to Brandywine from his native London at age 13. He has had a passion for acting since his first play at age 7, but he had to give it up so he could adjust to learning in an American school.
"Coming here, it was a big challenge," he said. "I wasn't used to the type of work, or the way class periods were set up."
But now Dadson can return to pursuing what he loves, and he said he has an audition in July for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He said his passion for drama comes primarily from his love for movies, and he looks up to successful actors like Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts and Clint Eastwood.
Graduating senior Ashley Heard, 17, of Clinton said the concept of graduating was "surreal." She plans to attend the University of Maryland, College Park, and study music education and administration, a passion her parents instilled in her at a young age.
"My parents both played instruments, and my mother sings," Ashley said. "It's a passion of mine, and I want to be able to teach that same passion to other kids."
William Miller Jr., 18, of Accokeek will also pursue music at the University of Maryland by way of French horn performance, but he said his real focus is on pre-medicine and eventually becoming an anesthesiologist.
"Growing up, I've always had a strong penchant for science," he said. "I watch a lot of shows like House' and CSI,' so I want to be involved with surgery, just not necessarily as the guy behind the knife."