‘We will always be Titans:’ In-person graduation marks final class with T.C. Williams name

Graduates are socially distanced and wearing masks at the last ceremony with the T.C. Williams name in Virginia. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)

After a topsy-turvy junior and senior year, 2021 graduations mark a moment in history and progress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At one high school, it’s also historic for another reason that will take effect on July 1.

“Whether we’re T.C. Williams High School or Alexandria City High School, we will always be Titans,” Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. assured this year’s graduates.

In the 1960s, T.C. Williams High was named after a former city schools superintendent who was a staunch segregation proponent.

“I just feel like we all kind of just needed that fresh start,” said Kayleigh Andrews, a member of the T.C. Williams class of 2021.

She also recognized the historic significance of being the last class to have the name on their diplomas.

Of course, COVID-19 overshadowed almost everything about this year’s ceremony, from the paired-off chair arrangements to the three feet of space in between each seating duo — and the masks.

The ceremony, a fitting capstone to a year of uncertainty.

“With the mask, but we’re still here, so I’m very grateful, it’s very emotional,” Andrews said.

This year’s graduation happened to be a vicarious one for a summer intern who was covering the ceremony for The Zebra Press, a local Alexandria media outlet.

Chris Damond graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. in 2020.

Chris tells WTOP he didn’t attend his graduation, “but I’m attending T.C.’s. So this will act as my graduation. I am [a member of] one of the classes that can relate to their high school experience. Not many will be able to … a lot of hardships, but I think this makes it more meaningful that they were able to overcome despite the hardships of the pandemic.”

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