Waldorf, MD – The culmination of Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) graduation week occurred as Thomas Stone High School held its commencement ceremony on Friday, June 2. The event marked the completion of the high school journey for the 251 graduates who are now embarking on various paths, including pursuing higher education, joining the U.S. Armed Forces, venturing into the workforce, or training to become emergency services personnel.

Amidst the joyous celebration, the class leaders took the opportunity to share valuable life lessons and reflections they gained while striving to achieve academic excellence. Jonathan Rand-Crawford, the salutatorian, opened up about the sacrifices he made during his high school years. He acknowledged having missed out on enriching experiences, neglecting relationships, and being excessively self-critical at times.

“I found that I spent four years losing sleep, neglecting relationships even those among my family, and missing many opportunities for achievement and social connection,” Rand-Crawford confessed. “I did all of this just so I could have a high number next to my name and to stand here before you on this stage.” He revealed that he experienced burnout until he learned to relax during the final days of school, realizing the importance of a balanced life.

However, Rand-Crawford emphasized that he did not mean to undermine the significance of education. He encouraged his fellow graduates to consider school as only one aspect of a well-rounded life. Reflecting on his own experience, he concluded, “Looking back on my experience, I realize that the most important part of life should be a single part. But each individual part blending to form a cohesive whole.” As the graduates embark on their future endeavors, Rand-Crawford urged them to strive for balance, emphasizing that even the smallest changes can be considered successes if they bring them closer to achieving equilibrium.

Valedictorian Olivia Warren utilized her address to shed light on the challenges that the Class of 2023 will face as they step into adulthood. She emphasized the societal and economic issues that demand their attention. Principal Shanif Pearl echoed Warren’s sentiments, urging the graduates to harness their passion, innovative ideas, and unwavering determination to make a positive impact on the world.

“It’s up to you to carve your own path, seize opportunities, and create meaningful impact,” Principal Pearl asserted. “The world needs your passion, your innovative ideas, and your unwavering determination to shape a brighter tomorrow. Be the change agents, be the pioneers, be the catalysts for progress.”

Thomas Stone High School’s Class of 2023 proved their academic excellence by amassing a staggering $25 million in scholarship offers, with more expected in the coming weeks. To learn more about the accomplishments of the CCPS Class of 2023, visit the official website at www.ccboe.com. Additionally, the graduation ceremonies can be viewed on the online playlists.

The graduation ceremony at Thomas Stone High School served as a momentous occasion for the 251 graduates, who bid farewell to their high school years and embarked on a new chapter in their lives. As they move forward, armed with the wisdom shared by their peers and school leaders, the Class of 2023 is poised to make a lasting impact on the world while striving for balance and success in their personal and professional endeavors.

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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