The Westlake High School Class of 2021 celebrated their accomplishments today during their graduation ceremony held at Regency Furniture Stadium. Under clear blue skies, a total of 257 seniors took to the stadium field to receive their diplomas.
Westlake’s ceremony is the second Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) graduation planned for the stadium. Dressed in orange and teal robes, some graduates exuded excitement while crossing the stage while others shed tears as they said goodbye to their high school careers. This year, seniors were encouraged to explore their creativity and decorate their caps. Some donned caps with flowers and jewels, while others added lights and special messages to honor their families.
The celebration was not without reflection. The Class of 2021 took a moment of silence to honor the late Dominic Zaccarelli Sr., Westlake’s longtime athletic director, who passed away in January. “A life that touches others goes on forever,” student-athlete Sa’Niyah Council said. “And Coach Zac’s influence is far reaching.”
In her address to the graduates, Principal Diane Roberts asked them to slow down and not be in a rush to embrace adulthood too fast. Adulthood comes with an increase of responsibilities and bills. “Enjoy where you are in this moment,” she said. Roberts had more life lessons for the Class of 2021. “Sit down and be humble,” she said. “It is better to humble yourself than be humbled because of your pride. Being humble does not mean you let people walk all over you. It means you are confident, in control and recognize the power your words carry.”
She advised the graduates to not burn bridges. “Bridges are the connection between your experiences and your future that provide access to the next level,” she said. “The world is smaller than you think, and life has shown us that we need access to what those bridges can provide.”
Roberts ended her address with more advice. “Don’t forget who you are. Don’t forget to be thankful. Don’t forget to apologize. Don’t forget those who helped you get here. Don’t forget to say ‘I love you.’ Don’t forget to call home. Don’t forget you have a community of educators at Westlake who have your back. And just in case, in this business of life, someone forgets to tell you – you have a divine purpose on this earth and you are loved beyond measure,” Roberts said.
The graduating class from Westlake High School is led by valedictorian Kendyl Lane and salutatorian Joshua Binsol. Both Lane and Binsol were accepted to the University of Maryland, College Park. Lane wants to pursue a career in marketing to help brands grow. She will major in digital marketing. Binsol plans to major in mechanical engineering. He is interested in taking classes in the fire protection engineering program and hopes to secure internships after he graduates.
In her valedictory speech to her peers, Lane wished her classmates well and encouraged them to always strive for excellence.
“The fact that I am able to stand in front of you all and give this speech after the year we’ve had feels surreal,” Lane said. “Now is the time to remember we got through one of the toughest years of high school during a global pandemic. The memories weren’t able to make this year, only make the memories we do have even better.”
“The Class of 2021 will be remembered not only for our dedication and hard work but for our perseverance to push through the toughest and most unprecedented year,” Lane said.
Earlier this school year, CCPS worked with the Charles County Government to secure Regency Furniture Stadium for outdoor high school graduations. Due to COVID-19 safety and health guidelines, CCPS had to scale down ceremony activities, including the number of guests who could attend, to follow social distancing and safety measures.
The Wolverine Class of 2021 earned $18,353,577 in scholarship offers. Scholarship totals reported for high schools may change as students report offers.