MATA Graduates 331

The Academies of Loudoun conducted its 2019 commencement for 331 seniors in the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy (MATA) on Friday, May 31st, at Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg.


The ceremony began with the National Anthem, sung by MATA graduating senior Paravi Das.


Academies of Loudoun Principal Dr. Tinell Priddy delivered the welcome.  In her remarks, Priddy praised her faculty and read student comments about the instructors.  One student wrote that radiology teacher Terri Settle “teaches us life.”  Another said that welding instructor Damon Putman “is there for us even when we think we don’t need him.”  Priddy thanked parents for “the invaluable role” they played in getting their children to graduation day.  She also thanked the students for their “caring mindset” while they opened a new building.


Assistant Superintendent for the Department of Digital Innovation Vince Scheivert brought greetings on behalf of Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams and school division administration.  He borrowed a phrase from Fortnite, telling students that they were “about to board the battle bus.”  He also thanked parents for allowing students to “follow their passion.”


Tony McGraw, the project executive for the Academies of Loudoun construction, delivered the commencement address.  The construction of the Academies of Loudoun was a project 10 years in the making and the facility, with all its specialized classroom spaces, is the largest in the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) inventory.  McGraw has served as the lead for the construction of 17 LCPS schools.  He retires at the end of this month after more than 40 years of service in the construction industry.


McGraw opened his remarks by reflecting on the evolution of the school.  “When Dr. Priddy asked me to speak today, I thought of the Academies of Loudoun as a project – how excited I was to learn in 2014 that this was finally going to become a reality… When I walked the site with our architect and civil engineer in the spring of 2015 and stood at the proposed entry plaza in the middle of the woods, how after 30 months of construction we were welcoming students at that same entry.  But what made this more than a project and really brought life to this fabulous school was you, the students.”


McGraw highlighted a number of leadership qualities that were required of him during construction of the school and that will be demanded of students as they enter their respective industries: work ethic, character, respect, integrity, commitment, honor.  He emphasized the importance of continuing to learn.  “Almost after 50 years of construction, I’m continuing to learn from others.  I know how to build, but not how schools are run.”  McGraw shared that Priddy’s input on specific aspects of the school, including the makerspace, made the facility better.


Because students attend the Academies of Loudoun’s MATA program on a part-time basis, students receive their diplomas at their home-school commencement exercises.  Students accepted certificates of completion from Priddy and blue-and-green honor cords from MATA Director Matt Wilburn.


School Board Members Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) and Tom Marshall (Leesburg) were in attendance to congratulate the graduates.