R-MA seniors look to future

Jacob Dodson, left, and Tyler Vaughan, both 18, will graduate Saturday from Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal. Dodson will be the salutatorian at the 9 a.m. graduation ceremony and Vaughan is valedictorian. Both live in Front Royal. Josette Keelor/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Front Royal residents Tyler Vaughan and Jacob Dodson are near opposites, but together represent some of the best qualities the graduating class at Randolph-Macon Academy and has to offer.

The school’s commencement ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Saturday. Vaughan will speak as valedictorian and Dodson as salutatorian.

In his speech, Dodson plans to quote Arie Penvovici: “Graduation is only a concept. In real life, every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.”

“Never give up on your dreams,” Dodson’s speech goes on to say. “Reflect on how far you have come, but always remember to remain focused on where you are going.”

Dodson plays snare drum in marching band and timpani in concert band. He’s president of the Honor Council and the English Honor Society, vice president of the National Honor Society and senior class treasurer.

He and Vaughan started at Randolph-Macon in sixth grade, and Dodson said the experience has afforded him numerous opportunities to lead. At a small school, he said “[You] can be outspoken and truly take ownership of your education.”

Named Best All-Around Cadet at Thursday night’s award ceremony, he plans to attend the University of Virginia, study political science and become a lawyer.

Vaughan participates in football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball and wrestling and on Thursday was named Athlete of the Year. After high school he plans to pursue biology at James Madison University and become a radiologist.

Though his family lives nearby, he said he lived at school his senior year on his mother’s recommendation.

“She said it would prepare me for college.” And he expects it has.

Cooperating with others around the clock has been a lesson he’s glad to have learned, but he said managing his time has also prepared him for life away from home.

“You just have to learn how not to procrastinate,” he said.

In his valedictory speech, he will talk about the uncertainty of each graduate’s future but the need to give it your all anyway:

“Change is not something to be scared of or something to get nervous about, but instead something to look forward to,” he wrote. “It is all about how you react to it.”

“This is an enormous moment in our lives and one in which the future is controlled by us. Make the most of it, live your life to the fullest, and be the person you want to be.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

In brief:

• Randolph-Macon Academy’s Melton Memorial Gymnasium
• 10 a.m. Saturday
• Commencement speaker will be Tracy Fitzsimmons, first female president of Shenandoah University.
• The school plans to honor 59 seniors, two postgraduates and five Falcon Scholars. The school has boasted a college acceptance rate of 99 percent this year, with $6.5 million in college scholarships granted to its students.