WINCHESTER — Millbrook High School co-valedictorian Kyle Gresko is not a fan of the quote his class chose for their senior year.
“Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go,” the anonymous quote states.
“The unknown of it all is terrifically ironic,” he said mockingly. “And so I guess I’m just a little dissatisfied personally. If my life’s work to this point is going to be summed up in a quote, I think we have plenty of excellent options from the students and staff of Millbrook before we stretch into the unknowns.”
Gresko was among the 320 students who received diplomas Wednesday evening in Millbrook Pioneer Stadium. His co-valedictorian, Celine Bousquet, was not present to make her speech.
Gresko rattled off some suggestions to replace the class quote, including one from Millbrook math teacher Benjamin Ratliff, “Don’t be stupid.”
“That’s great advice, of course, but I don’t know if it really fits the vibe of the class that managed to set a bathroom on fire on accident,” Gresko said.
He offered another suggestion from Millbrook social studies teacher Garrett Hammer, who once calmly told Gresko, “Kyle, do not speak for the next 15 minutes.”
“Maybe there’s something in there about the value of silence, but I’m not sure a quote telling us to keep our thoughts to ourselves instead of letting them out into the world is the best thing we want right now,” Gresko said.
His personal favorite, however, is a quote from Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent David Sovine when he personally told Gresko, “FCPS will be closed today, Dec. 19, 2019.”
“He told me that personally. I felt it in my heart of hearts and then I went back to sleep,” Gresko said about the snow day announcement.
Maybe none of his suggestions are better options, Gresko admitted.
“Not being stupid, taking time to be quiet or taking time for self-care may be good ideas, but I find them empty and ineffective,” he said.
The quotes all feel like a “cop out,” he said, questioning how 13 years of education could be summed up in a two-line quote.
“As a class we are more than a series of adjectives or witty juxtapositions,” he said.
“My point is, don’t be proud of how far you’ve come or faithful in how far you go. Let other people be the proud and faithful ones. Let everybody else distill your experience and your life at this school and beyond, and all you should be focused on is doing as you will and doing it well,” Gresko said.
Millbrook’s Class of 2021 has a lot to be proud of, including weathering the COVID-19 pandemic that upended their senior year.
“Although this year has been anything but traditional, these seniors have shown resilience, flexibility and strength as they navigated this challenging year,” Millbrook Principal Joanne Altendorf told the crowd. “They are the embodiment of what we look for in our Millbrook graduates, and I know they have the courage and knowledge to be successful in whatever they choose to do for their lives.”
The class collectively received $2,425,000 in scholarships; 471 graduates earned industry credentials through Career and Technical Education courses and 160 received an advanced diploma.
Kevin Andrew Pritchard, a Millbrook senior who passed away in the fall of 2020, was honored during the ceremony, with his family accepting his diploma. A moment of silence was held in his honor.
In emotional remarks, Millbrook graduate Shoaib Zamani shared that Pritchard “is still and will always be in our lives.”
“He was somebody who would light up the room with his smile,” Zamani said.