The Seton Senior High School Class of 2004 graduated to a standing ovation Saturday morning.
A crowd of family and friends that filled All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas watched 54 departing seniors accept their diplomas.
After the ceremony, there were tears and laughter as the graduates tossed their caps in the air in unison and received congratulations from their families.
Seton Junior & Senior High School, which has over 350 students enrolled, was founded as a private Catholic school in Manassas in 1975.
Valedictorian Olivia Lucas said she was happy to have graduated. “It feels good. It was kind of surreal. I’ve watched all the classes before me graduate, and it’s hard to believe that it can happen to you,” she said.
Lucas said she planned to attend William & Mary College in the fall to study foreign languages and music.
Salutatorian Michael Duda, who is headed for West Point this fall, said graduating was a big relief. Duda used a humorous and somewhat self-deprecating metaphor to make a serious point, comparing the perseverance of Seton’s boys’ volleyball team members with being a persevering member of the Church.
“Since I have a microphone, and you all have to listen to me for the next few minutes, I’m going to use the opportunity from some shameless advertising,” joked Duda, who was a member of the team.
Delegate Richard Black (R-Sterling) served as the keynote speaker, urging the graduates to keep their faith in the forefront and work for change.
“You are headed into a deeply conflicted world,” said Black during his commencement speech. He went on to discuss a number of figures such as Howard Stern, Mel Gibson and former Alabama judge Roy Moore, each of whom has been involved in recent national controversies. He also called abortion the defining moral issue in American society.
“Each of you can influence the society around you,” he said at the end of the well-received speech.