A Tony award winning actor, a renowned mystery novelist and Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor are among the keynote speakers chosen to impart life lessons at Montgomery County Public Schools’ graduation ceremony, the school district recently announced.
Among the speakers will be Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, a Darnestown resident who will be speaking at Montgomery Blair High School on June 1.
“Education is the foundation for our entire state, nation, and families as we move forward,” Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller told MoCo360 in November.
Commencement ceremonies are scheduled to take place at various locations May 31 through June 15, including at high school campuses; at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.; Mount St. Mary’s University; and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Seniors from Poolesville and Rockville’s Thomas S. Wootton high schools will be the first to cross the stage on May 31.
Ahead of the festivities, MCPS announced the names of several prominent local figures anticipated to speak at graduation this year. Speakers include:
- Myles Frost, Tony Award-winning actor (Wootton)
- Aruna Miller, Maryland’s Lieutenant Governor (Montgomery Blair)
- George Pelecanos, author and television producer (Northwood)
- Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, husband-and-wife journalists from The New Yorker (Winston Churchill)
- Walt Williams, University of Maryland and former NBA star (Sherwood)
- Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (D-Dist. 21), Maryland House of Delegates member (Richard Montgomery)
- Will Jawando (D-At-large), Montgomery County Councilmember (Clarksburg)
- Gabe Albornoz (D-At-large), Montgomery County Councilmember (Kennedy)
Several of the celebrity speakers are MCPS alumni—including Pelecanos, who grew up in Silver Spring and graduated from Northwood High. He later got married, adopted three children—two Black sons from Brazil and a daughter from Guatemala—and chose to raise them in Silver Spring.
“I didn’t want to be somewhere where they were growing up around kids who didn’t look like them. This is real,” Pelecanos told Bethesda Magazine in April 2022. “This is truly a mixed neighborhood, not just racially and ethnically, but also economically. So, yeah, that’s been good. I don’t think we’re going to leave here.”
In the summer of 2021, he began directing a television series set in Baltimore called “We Own This City,” which explores the relationship between people of color and law enforcement. Pelecanos previously told Bethesda Magazine some of the show’s dynamics were inspired by real events his family experienced living in Montgomery County.
“We raise a lot of questions and maybe have some answers,” he said of the show. “Things have to change. The idea of constitutional policing and public safety are not mutually exclusive. You can have both if you work at it.”
Nearly 12,000 MCPS students across 26 high schools will receive diplomas at their graduation ceremonies this spring, which will include prominent local celebrities and officials as keynote speakers.
Last school year was the first time MCPS returned to in-person graduation ceremonies since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the school district to go virtual in 2020. The graduation rate for the class of 2022 was 90.3 percent, a 1 percent drop from the previous year’s graduating class.
Several schools will also feature teacher and student speakers. A full list of MCPS graduation dates, times and locations can be found on the school district’s website.