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Northwest High School Says Goodbye to Class of 2016 and Its Principal

It was a bittersweet day for Lance Dempsey, the principal of Northwest High School, on Tuesday, as she oversaw her seventh and final graduation Northwest seniors.

The 494 members of the Northwest High School Class of 2016 gathered with their friends and families at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. to make the official transition from high school student to high school graduate on Tuesday.

Student Speaker Miren Chenevert spoke reminded her classmates to hold on the special memories created within the walls of Northwest High School. “We’ve all rushed out of the building at the end of the day by the one security guard yells ‘Everybody Out!’ Now, we really are leaving. Some of us for college, others for technical school, or work. We are all leaving from the same beginning. Our building is special, but what is inside is greater. Lucky for us, those are the things we can take with us.”

“We are a community, a family,” said Chenevert, “and our experiences here are ones that no one else has or could ever match. We are all for one and one for all. We are the home of the Jags 2016.”

Commencement Speaker and former assistant principal and class advisor for the Class of 2016 at Northwest, Matthew Niper reminded the graduates that each decision they make can have an impact both great and small on the course of their lives.

“The next chapter begins today, and whether you will travel, join the armed forces, attend college, gain part-time or full-time employment you will grow and learn from these experiences, and they will help guide your future decisions. For me it was an internship that I had when I started college, the opened the door to a part-time job. That experience was key to the start of my career, and I still have contacts from that job. It was a few years ago that a friend asked me to substitute teach for him. And here I am today.” Niper is currently the assistant principal at Rocky Hill Middle School, in Clarksburg.

“It is not whether you are ready for the world,” said Niper. “It is whether the world is ready for you. Make sure you voice is heard. Share your impact with others. Guide them with your life lessons and pass along your message. Do not let life pass you by. Seek those new experiences. Keep your head up, and always stay classy. I want you to be epic. You already have a good start.”

Indeed, the Class of 2016 has been a record breaking class at Northwest. As a group they have completed more community service hours than any other senior class, logging 77,380.5 hours of service to the community. The class has received over 970 offers of admission to attend over 200 different colleges and universities and has received a record-setting $13,675,944 in scholarship offers, according to Principal Lance Dempsey.

She said that 94 percent of the graduating class plans to attend a two- or four-year college or university. “One of our students, Zeke Gandy, has taken that commitment to the next level and enlisted in the United States Air Force he will begin his enlistment in July,” said Dempsey. “And one of our students, Robert Sood, has accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.”

Academically, Northwest was led by Sae Won Kwak, who earned the highest weighted GPA in the class with a 4.78, and Jayan M. Kamdar was close behind with a 4.77 weighted GPA. Both will be attending the University of Maryland at College Park in the fall, according to Dempsey.

“Over the past four years,” Dempsey told the Class of 2016, “I know that I have pushed you a lot. But it is because I have always known of the greatness that is in each and every one of you. Being your principal for the past four years and principal at Northwest High School for the last seven years has been an honor and privilege. I hope that my voice will always be in your ear telling you never to give up and to always put forth your best effort in everything you do. Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

“Make no mistake; Northwest High School is not the same high school it was eight years ago. We have made our mark on Montgomery County and the State. That is because of the staff that sits before me. Thank you for preparing and teaching our graduates.”

“Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives for the past years. You will always hold a special place in my heart, and I wish all of you the best in everything that you do. My heartfelt to congrats to the Class of 2016, I will miss you, and I will really miss Northwest. Thank you, one and all, to my students, to their families, and my staff I leave you with a very heavy heart but with memories that will last me a lifetime. Thank you.”


Top: Northwest Class of 2016 walks the Constitution Hall stage at graduation on Tuesday afternoon.

Next: Student Speaker Miren Chenevert reminded the graduates how special Northwest High School and how it will always be in their memories.

Next: The Class of 2016 from Northwest High School at graduation.

Next: In his Commencement Address Matthew Niper told the Class of 2016 to stay true to themselves and to stay classy.

Next: Northwest Principal Lance Dempsey gives her final commencement address to the Class of 2016. She is moving on to a post as Associate Superintendent of Human Resources for MCPS beginning July 1.

Photos by Germantown Pulse.


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