WCHS senior aiming to inspire

Abigail "Abby" O'Mara, 17, is senior class president and drum major of the Warren County High School marching band. She will deliver her speech to the graduating class at today's commencement ceremony at the school football stadium. Josette Keelor/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Abigail “Abby” O’Mara used to want to be president of the United States.

“That was what I was gonna do, was be the first woman president, and I stuck to my guns,” said the 17-year-old Warren County High School senior.

In seventh grade she was elected student council president, and she has been president of her class ever since.

Now preparing for Friday’s high school graduation, the trombone player and four-year marching band drum major said her career goals have changed but her passion to lead and inspire have not.

“When you stand in front of a 60-person ensemble, and they play your music, it is a feeling like I can’t describe,” she said. “Having that sound hit you and hearing all those moving parts, the melodies and the counter melodies, … I just loved it. I was addicted to it. I thought it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

At 6 p.m. today, outside on the lawn of the school football stadium, Abby will graduate with 184 other Wildcats.

After four days of rain, today’s forecast is mostly clear, so she said administrators approved an outdoor commencement ceremony.

Abby’s speech — her second one, since she also spoke at her eighth grade commencement ceremony — includes a little bit of everything, but it’s mainly about her classmates.

“I feel like it’s not my graduation, it’s our graduation,” she explained. “We’ve done this together. So it’s a lot about the students and I’d say it’s a lot of inspiration about the future.”

“There’s going to be hard times,” she said. “Sometimes you have a four-hour graduation practice in the rain, outside, and, you know, I just want them to know that they’re going to be successful, and they’re going to be wonderful. They’re all wonderful people, and even when it’s a little dreary, their futures are going to be bright.”

Though Abby hasn’t been afraid to take chances, she said she realizes it couldn’t have been an easy choice her band director made in choosing a freshman to be drum major of the marching band.

“I’m not the first, I’m sure I won’t be the last,” she said. “I think he was pleasantly surprised at the effort that I put in. When you see someone that young go for it, you get a little nervous, like it’s a wild card.

“But I think he saw how quickly I was able to improve and how steadily I kept the effort, and I think that was what impressed him the most was he knew that I was dependable,” she said. “He knew that I was going to be solid for the group.”

Abby has managed her school soccer teams for five years, one year as captain of the junior varsity team. She’s managed cross-country for three years, two as head manager; and she’s managed basketball for five years, two as head manager.

Recently certified as a nursing assistant through Valley Health’s CNA program, Abby volunteers at Lynn Care Center and plans on pursuing a degree in nursing from James Madison University with a double minor in psychology and music.

Though excited for the future, she said leaving high school is also bittersweet.

“I know once I graduate, it’s going to be a different feeling of not being able to come back,” she said. “I’m really sad to leave. A lot of the students, we’re going our separate ways, we’re really finding what we want in life, and that’s wonderful. I want them all to succeed in whatever their endeavors are going to be. But I’m sure as heck going to miss them.”

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

Warren County High School Graduation

• Ceremony will be held at Warren County High School, 155 Westminster Drive, Front Royal at 6 p.m. today in the football stadium
• 185 students will receive diplomas
• Superintendent Pamela McInnis will announce top male and female, and 2014 Hugh D. Hite outstanding student Glen Pinard will announce this year’s winner
• Commencement speakers will be Principal Ernestine Jordan and Abigail O’Mara, president of the senior class.