HARRISONBURG — As the Convocation Center continued to fill on Wednesday night, students from Massanutten Technical Center gathered with their program peers and teachers and prepared to cross the stage as graduates.
Each program was easily distinguishable from the others. The culinary students were dressed in chef whites, the health careers in a variety of different scrubs.
More than 400 students graduated from a program, completed an apprenticeship or received a certificate. Twenty-four programs of study were represented.
Ivore Johnson, a Broadway High School student, completed the culinary arts program.
Johnson said the two-year program was “really nice, and I learned a lot.”
She said learning to work as a team was the most important thing she learned in her studies.
“I’m proud of myself for accomplishing this and going through the program,” Johnson said.
Tyonna Brown, Britney Delgado and Ariadna Sandoval waited patiently for the ceremony to start on Wednesday, decked out in their red scrub tops. The three completed the heath careers program at Massanutten Technical Center.
When asked how they were feeling, the three seniors said a combination of nervous and excited.
“Ready to be done,” Brown said.
All three said they want to become registered nurses after graduation. They spent their first year of the program primarily in the classroom and the second in a nursing home getting practical experience.
“All the book work was really important, even though it wasn’t exciting,” Delgado said.
The second year being more hands-on was a lot more exciting, Sandoval said.
“It was good knowing what to do in a certain situation,” she said.
After MTC Director Kevin Hutton welcomed everyone to the ceremony, John Almarode, an associate professor of early elementary and reading at James Madison University, gave the keynote address.
Almarode challenged graduates to maintain an attitude of excellence. Just because they’re graduating, tests will continue to come, and will they rise to excellence?
“Is that going to be a distraction or will this be my destiny?” Almarode told students to question when presented with a test. “Do not hide your skills. Do not hide your talents. Don’t be embarrassed by them — let them shine.”