Remarkable stories abound for the more than 4,500 students in Virginia Beach City Public Schools Class of 2023. Here is a sampling.
Smiles across the world for Ocean Lakes graduates
Senior Andrew Luksik at Ocean Lakes High School recently went to India as part of his longtime volunteer work with Operation Smile. He’s been recognized by the organization for his good work.
While working in the hospital in India, he helped ease the fears of children having cleft lip and palate surgeries. Andrew’s other role was educational, teaching people in the community about health care practices. He has been involved with Operation Smile for the past seven years and plans to continue his volunteer work throughout college.
Another Ocean Lakes senior, Joshua Bryant, is developing a vest that will allow people with visual impairments to get around more easily and even work in war zones. He participated in the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, and is waiting to see if he receives an award for his invention, for which he’s seeking a patent.
Graduate soars with pilot’s license, other distinctions
Senior Gabriel McLendon at Landstown High School earned private pilot and commercial drone pilot licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration before graduating with honors.
Among his many other achievements:
- ranked as a senior airman with the Civil Air Patrol Coastal Composite Squadron.
- a Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 504.
- participated in the STEM environment program with NASA Langley Research Center all four years of high school.
He hopes to earn good money piloting drones this summer before attending Tuskegee University in the fall.
On the job training, before graduation
Nearly 20 seniors at Green Run Collegiate recently completed two-week internships at 16 businesses in Hampton Roads, including Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, the Naval History Museum and Virginia Stage Company.
“In the amazing opportunity I had while working with CHKD, I have learned that endocrinology is not just focused on diabetes, but also focuses on issues with growth, thyroid, and puberty,” said Lexi Taylor, who interned at CHKD Endocrinology.
Paige Richardson interned at First Colonial Inn Senior Community.
“The lesson I learned from this internship is the importance of staying active and living your life to the fullest,” she said. “I also learned how important it is to help others; sometimes all they need is a push.”
The Green Run Collegiate Foundation Board provides the internship program’s budget, and school staff members supervise the program.
“It serves as an excellent bridge between students’ academic work in pursing International Baccalaureate diplomas and certificates and their next chapter in college and careers,” said Dr. Lara K. W. Green, business internship coordinator.
Falcons rise above the storm
Frank W. Cox High’s graduation included reflections on the tornado that devastated neighborhoods near the school less than two months ago.
“This is a year of resiliency for the community of Cox High School,” Principal Dr. Michael Kelly said. Although it will take years to repair the damage from the storm, he encouraged students to continue to pursue their passions, to learn from failures and take care of their mental health.
Graduate Olivia Harriman lost her home and her car to the storm, but that didn’t prevent her from counting her blessings.
“I’ve had a great support system,” she said, praising friends and community members for providing meals and other help.
During a pep talk before graduation, Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence encouraged students to continue having a positive impact.
“To live a life worth living, you have to put yourself out front,” he said. “You can. You have been prepared here at Cox to do that.”
Here are some statistics about VBCPS graduates, as of June 16, 2023:
- Total number of grads: 4,579.
- This includes February and June graduates.
- Total scholarships offered: $97.9 million; total accepted $62 million, continuing a three-year, upward trend.
- Total number of grads earning at least one VDOE Diploma Seal: 2,602.
- Students meeting specific requirements for graduation and demonstrating exemplary performance may receive diploma seals for recognition.
- Post-Secondary Plans (reported by students to their high schools).
- Two-year college: 880
- Four-year college: 2,675
- Apprenticeship/business school/trade school: 196
- Enlisting in the military: 156
- Entering the workforce: 424
More about graduation:
Images from Green Run Collegiate’s graduation:
Images from Cox High School graduation: