With all the pomp and circumstance they could muster, the 231 graduating seniors of Maurice J. McDonough High School marched through The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro Friday morning, May 30.

“I want to share a secret with you,” Charles County Superintendent of Schools Kimberly A. Hill told the graduates. “This is my very first high school graduation as superintendent of schools for Charles County. I’m also very proud to be a graduate of McDonough High School. This is a very special day, a day we’ve worked toward for many years. This is a day that marks the end, but also a day that marks the beginning.”

Isabelle Browning, president of the Class of 2014, told the assembly that although their high school careers had come to a close, as they stepped forward into the future, they would remember those they leave at McDonough.

“We must all walk our separate paths,” Browning said. “It may seem as if we’re saying goodbye to each other, but we will always have that best friend, we will always have those people who built us up and taught us life lessons. They will remain with us forever.

“Parents, graduates and educators, the future sits before you in this graduating class,” she added. “We have your future. This year, 2014, is our year, and it is just beginning.”

Salutatorian Taylor Blare, headed to the University of Maryland (UM) College Park, told her fellow seniors, “Today, we gather here as a complete class. Tomorrow will be different as well as the next day. Never again will we gather together as we are gathered today.

“We have all had miserable moments doing late night projects we had procrastinated on, but our teachers and counselors, no matter how unsure we felt about ourselves, they were always there to support us,” Blare said.

“From here, we start to go our separate ways,” she concluded. “Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’ We are not losing a day, we are gaining the future as well.”

Valedictorian Christina Paras, also headed for UM College Park, quoted Benjamin Franklin to her fellow seniors.

“You will find the secret to success under the alarm clock,” Paras said. “Those of you who become successful will have made the decision to be successful. But remember that each secretary, every staff member, every teacher and worker, each has played a monumental role in helping us to reach this milestone. They have all served as mentors. It is up to us to stay motivated and reach our goals. Although we have tough years ahead, we can face them with confidence because of the experiences we have had in high school.

“One final thought,” she offered. “Get up, grow up and don’t give up.”

McDonough Principal Bradley Snow told the seniors, “It seems like only yesterday you entered our doors for the first time, now look where you’re sitting. This is just one of the many milestones to come. T