Loretta Dredger has been playing soccer since she was 4 or 5 years old, she said.

Dredger plays year-round, and it’s the only sport she’s ever played. She loves it and doesn’t feel like she missed out having not played any other sports.

But it’s not something the Spotswood High School senior thinks she’s going to take with her to college.

“Maybe club or intramural,” she said. “But I’ll be focused on academics.”

And that makes sense. Dredger was the recipient of a Jefferson Scholarship, a full-ride to the University of Virginia, where she plans to be pre-law.

When asked what her parents’ reactions were to finding out the entire cost of her four years at U.Va. was covered, Dredger said: “There were definitely some tears.”

When it comes to college, Dredger is looking forward to some independence and figuring out what she enjoys.

“I’m looking forward to doing my own thing and to lead my own path,” she said.

Along with soccer, Dredger is the vice president of her class and a state champion in debate.

It’s been a tough senior year for everyone, and Dredger said that she is looking forward to moving on from it.

“It’s been hard because you’re not even sure what you’re missing, because you’re not experiencing it,” she said.

However, she was very excited about the idea of having an in-person graduation, something she wasn’t sure would come to pass.

In fact, Dredger was one of the speakers at graduation Friday night at James Madison University’s Atlantic Union Bank Center.

Greeting the 218 graduates on Friday was Principal Robert Dansey. He thanked the students for saving the year, saying that their laughter, stories and normal teenage issues brought normalcy to an abnormal year.

“The fact that you are willing ... to check on us to see how we were doing, was uplifting,” he said. “You are our joy, our blessing and our thanksgiving. Without a doubt, it truly was a great year to be a Blazer.”

Class officers then addressed those in attendance, including Dredger.

“Instead of dwelling on the bad, we should focus on everything we’ve learned,” she said.

Dredger shared some advice for her fellow graduates: step out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to go the extra mile, take a step back when the world feels like it’s ending and be excited about the future.

She thanked her teachers for sending out Zoom links and assignments over and over again, and most importantly, Dredger thanked her peers for helping each other get through the most challenging year of schooling they will ever face.

Hannah Bryant, SCA President, also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic in her speech to students.

“If I never hear Zoom, social distancing or contact tracing, it will be too soon,” she said with a laugh.

“We are the second class to be affected by the pandemic,” Bryant said. “Let others know you care ... let’s be the graduating class that supports everyone.”

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or mwilliams@dnronline.com. Follow Megan on Twitter @Valley_Learn

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