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Seneca Valley High School Class of 2018 Set Off to Follow Their Dreams

For generations, it has been true, as June begins high school comes to an end as seniors begin the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The first phase of that transition is the high school graduation. This week, the three high school serving Germantown — Seneca Valley, Northwest, and Clarksburg — graduated over 1,300 seniors this week.

The Class of 2018 from Seneca Valley High School gathered together for the last time at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. on Monday, June 4.

“This morning roughly 300 students will receive their diplomas,” Seneca Valley Principal Marc Cohen told friends and family gather to celebrate with the graduates. “They have collectively been offered millions of dollars in scholarships, and many of them have been accepted in the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country, including UCLA, Spellman, Hopkins, UVA, UPenn, The United States Naval Academy, and of course the University of Maryland.”

Cohen said that seven of Seneca Valley grads, including United States Naval Academy midshipman Hannah Montau had committed to joining the military following graduation.

The Screamin’ Eagles heard from one of the teachers, Charles Burrall, in the commencement address. Burrall is an author and English teacher at Seneca Valley who is retiring after serving 25 years at the school.

He offered the new graduates three points of advice; Save your money. Square your relationships, and Follow your dreams. Burrall spoke of his life before teaching when he travelled the world working many odd jobs from sailor to dishwasher in Europe, Africa and Asia in preparation for the book he wanted to write. He spoke of having finished the book but being unable to get it published, and feeling like a failure. Until his mother suggested he try his hand at teaching. He was hired as substitute and eventually as full-time English teacher. The classroom allowed him to tell his stories and teach teens at the same time.

“After seven years of pouring my life in you students,” Burall told the Class of 2018, “one day a 10th grade young lady walked up to my desk at the end of year. She said, ‘Mr. Burrall, you should put your stories in a book so that everyone could read them and not just us.’ After that, I knew exactly what I had to do. I rewrote the book the way I tell it to my students, and guess what, it got published. It was a dream come true. So save your money, square your relationships, and follow your dream.”

Seneca Valley High School Class of 2018


Top: The Seneca Valley Class of 2018 at DAR Constitution Hall on graduation day, Monday, June 4.

Next: Principal Marc Cohen snaps some photos of the Class of 2018 or four selfies to send to parents.

Next: Commencement speaker Charles Burrall, author and retiring Seneca Valley High School English teacher.

All photos by Germantown Pulse.