Goodbyes were part of Thomas Dale High School’s graduation June 5 at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center.
Bermuda District county supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle noted that, since she is retiring soon, this is her last year speaking at high school commencement ceremonies. Jaeckle said goodbye and thanked Mark Fowler, whom she called a “great teacher, coach and assistant principal.” Jaeckle said that the 2005 boys soccer team coached by Fowler won the school’s first state championship. They followed that up with another title in 2006. The team made it to state again this year before bowing out in the quarterfinal. “You will be greatly missed,” she said. “What a legacy.”
The Wales native has 31 years in education and is taking a job as an assistant principal at Chesterfield Career & Technical Center at Hull. Fowler worked at TDHS for 21 years, including the last 14 as an administrator.
Thomas Dale’s first-year principal Chris Jones announced the Top 20 graduates, including valedictorian Kaitlyn Gray and salutatorian Cameron Barker. Gray had a GPA of 4.95 and Barker’s was 4.91, Jones said.
Barker thanked her mother and four sisters, whom she called her best friends and support system.
Gray was awarded the J. Wilson Crump Scholarship, which was named after Thomas Dale’s former principal, who worked 26 years in the position. The scholarship was awarded based on a vote of the faculty.
Superintendent Merv Daugherty encouraged the graduates to “focus on goals, not obstacles. Your attitude will decide if it’s a positive or negative experience.” Referring to integrity, he said, “The most important thing in life is your name … always protect your name and model high standards.”
Graciela Espana and Rahil Kapoor each received the Superintendent’s Excellence in Academics $1,000 scholarship, which was donated by an anonymous business. Espana will be the first person in her family to attend college, Daugherty said, noting that she plans to major in elementary education at VCU. Kapoor was born in India and plans to attend the University of Virginia.
Bermuda District School Board member Carrie Coyner noted it was her eighth and final year as a school board member. “My daughter’s favorite baby sitters are in your graduating class,” she said. Coyner encouraged the grads to “take care of your body, mind and heart.”