Regency Furniture Stadium was a sight to behold as Westlake High School’s Class of 2023 donned caps and gowns to celebrate graduation. The air was filled with excitement and pride as the students, adorned in teal, gathered on the infield while the class’s Top 10 stood out in their striking orange attire.

Jocelyn Burrell, the Student Government Association (SGA) president, addressed her fellow graduates, encouraging them to chase success on their own terms. She emphasized the importance of self-belief, stating, “Life doesn’t stop for anyone. You will face obstacles, and you will fall on hard times, but if you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody will. Opportunity isn’t something you wait for; it’s something you make happen.”

Principal Diane Roberts took the opportunity to highlight the resilience and achievements of the Class of 2023, urging parents, guardians, community members, and leaders not to define the graduates by anything less than their accomplishments and perseverance. She acknowledged their challenges, saying, “This group has skillfully borne the weight that our community has placed on them as being Westlake High School students. It has not always been fair, reasonable, or earned. However, they have victoriously walked through the fire of press releases and public opinion to make it to this point.”

Roberts reminded everyone that these graduates would one day become parents, guardians, community members, and leaders. She affirmed their importance, stating, “They are the real ones you will need in your corner one day.” Addressing the graduates directly, she said, “I need you to know that despite the losses you have suffered during these four years, you have heart.”

Highlighting the invaluable lessons the graduates have learned, Roberts emphasized the significance of fortitude, tenacity, and grace. She instilled a sense of empowerment, saying, “You are empowered to enter large spaces, and when you enter those spaces, understand that you add value. And when you depart, it will be deeply felt. Remember to handle your business before your business handles you. And now you will always have a community of educators who love and support you.”

Nina Dizon was announced as the valedictorian of Westlake’s Class of 2023, while Jolie Prasad claimed the title of salutatorian. Although Dizon did not share her plans for the future, Prasad revealed that she would attend James Madison University in the fall, pursuing a major in performing arts with a focus on music.

The achievements of the graduating class extended beyond their academic accomplishments. Westlake seniors received an astounding $12.5 million in scholarship offers this year, a testament to their dedication and hard work.

Westlake High School’s graduation ceremony was the fifth of seven Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) graduations. La Plata High School is scheduled to hold its commencement at 1 p.m. on June 1, followed by Thomas Stone High School at 9 a.m. on June 2. For more information about CCPS graduations, please visit

As the sun shone down on the Class of 2023, Westlake High School bid farewell to a remarkable group of graduates, confident in their ability to positively impact the world. With their hearts full of determination, they embark on the next chapter of their lives, armed with the knowledge and support of their educators and community.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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